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WALLA WALLA, Wash. – Four Whitman players scored in double-digits and the Missionaries soared to a landslide 102-53 Northwest Conference victory over the defenseless Linfield Wildcats Friday night inside Sherwood Center.
Lanky center Ben Eisenhardt and Philip Chircu each pumped in 14 points for the Missionaries. Matt Mounier added 13 and Ignas Pavilonis had 11, enabling Whitman to surpass the century mark. Whitman’s domination was especially apparent from three-point range, where the Missionaries sank an impressive 13 bombs outside the arc. Whitman swarmed the Linfield backcourt the length of the court the entire game and the result was 25 Linfield turnovers to just 11 for Whitman.
Brandon Harris had a team-high 10 points for Linfield. Nick Cantonwine sank 3 of 6 shots off the bench on his way to eight points. Cody Jurgens added eight points, sinking 3 of 7 from the field, while adding a team-high five rebounds. The ‘Cats slipped to 3-13 on the season and 2-5 in NWC play with the loss.
Whitman (10-6, 4-3 NWC) came out firing as the Missionaries drained two threes in the opening two minutes to jump to a 6-0 early lead. Andrew Batiuk, held to a season-low five points, hit a three to get Linfield on the board, and a pair of free throws from Harris put the score at 8-5 in favor of Whitman.
Eisenhardt, one of the NWC’s leaders in points per game (16.5), rebounds (7.3), and shooting percentage (53.4), got off to a quick start with six points during the opening three minutes.
Five turnovers led to more than a minute without either team scoring, until Dominic Lippi broke the silence with a three to put the Missionaries up 16-7. A jumper from Mounier capped off an 8-0 Whitman run and forced the ‘Cats to take a timeout with the score at 21-7.
A three from Peter Clark broke another nearly two-minute dry spell, and Whitman extended its lead to 24-9 with 10:04 to play in the first. The Missionaries kept Batiuk quiet, holding the NWC’s leading scorer to just three points in the opening 10 minutes.
Linfield felt the game slip out of control after a three from Chircu upped Whitman’s advantage to 33-10. A 7-0 run by the ‘Cats helped cut into the deficit before Whitman responded with a layup from Ryan Gilkey to make the score 35-17 with 4:07 remaining.
Whitman reestablished its 20-point lead and never looked back, cruising into the halftime locker room with a comfortable 48-22 lead. Nine buckets from long range helped the Missionaries storm out in front in the first, and 10 points from Mounier led all scorers in the period. Linfield outrebounded Whitman 21-15 over the game’s opening 20 minutes.
The Missionaries took advantage of a steal by Drew Raher in the early minutes of the second period and quickly built an insurmountable 55-24 cushion. The ‘Cats would not get closer than 30 points the rest of the way as Whitman maintained separation en route to the lopsided win.
AHEAD: Linfield heads three hours north to battle Whitworth in Spokane Saturday. The ‘Cats and Pirates tipoff at 6 p.m. immediately following the women’s game.