WALLA WALLA, Wash. – Whitman’s Sherwood Center turned into a House of Horrors on Friday the 13th for the Linfield Wildcats.
The Missionaries’ Josh Duckworth connected on a buzzer-beating bucket with .09 seconds to shock the Wildcats 67-65 in Northwest Conference action.
Whitman (10-4, 3-2 NWC) kept pace in the NWC title race, dealing the Wildcats their ninth road loss of the season. Linfield (3-10, 1-3 NWC) got a terrific all-around performance from forward Zach Anderson, who tallied 23 points, eight rebounds and three steals.
Whitman’s towering big man, Ben Eisenhardt scored a game-high 28 points on 10-of-18 shooting. He also snatched six rebounds and passed out four assists for the Missionaries.
Relying pinpoint long-range shooting of Peter Clark, Whitman opened the game on an 11-2 run and held a steady advantage throughout the first half. Clark scored all nine of his points in the first five minutes, then went scoreless after that.
Anderson planted a layup in the paint to draw the Wildcats back to within three, 16-13, midway through the period. Eisenhardt scored five consecutive points to pump Whitman’s lead back to seven, 29-22, with 3:02 left.
Anderson totaled 12 of his 23 points in the first half, sinking 5-of-10 shots from the field while keeping the ‘Cats within striking range at 36-30 at the break.
The deficit grew to 11 with 12:54 to play but the Wildcats steadily inched their way back. Anderson’s 3-point play with 8:24 to go cut the margin to five, 54-49, with 7:28 to go and a pair of free throws by Anderson pulled the Wildcats even at 56. The Missionaries bolted back in front by five on Eisenhardt’s layup with 2:47 to play five straight points from Andrew Batiuk and a clutch layup from Wildcats senior David Lee with 2.0 seconds to play tied the game once more at 65.
On the winning play, Jordan Dickson tossed a length-of-the-court pass to Duckworth, who released a 15-foot jumper with .09 seconds, over the outstretched fingers of Lee. It would be Duckworth’s only field goal of the game follow six consecutive misses.
Batiuk, a freshman making his first trip to Sherwood Center, finished with 14 points, four rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots. Lee scored 10 points, sinking 4-of-6 shots.
NEXT: The eastern Washington road swing continues Saturday with a 8 p.m. matchup in Spokane against the defending NWC champion Whitworth Pirates. Live play-by-play coverage starts at approximately 7:50 following the women’s contest.
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