Whitworth University has the opportunity to host the second round of the NCAA Division III men's basketball tournament on Saturday night when the Pirates take on Emory University at 7:00 pm in the Whitworth Fieldhouse. The game will be heard in the Spokane area on KSBN 1230 am and online at KSBN.net.
Sixth-ranked Whitworth is making its seventh straight appearance in the NCAA Division III tournament, and eighth overall.
Last Saturday Whitworth erased a 10-point second-half deficit in a 75-69 win over visiting Redlands in the first round of the tournament. The game was a see-saw affair that saw the Bulldogs turn a six-point deficit in the first half into a 41-35 lead at halftime following a 14-2 run.
After Redlands opened its largest lead (57-47) with just over 13 minutes to play, Whitworth went on a 19-2 run to take over a lead it would never relinquish. Colton McCargar, who shared game-high honors with 21 points, hit the big shot that gave Whitworth a five-point lead with less than a minute to play.
The Pirate defense helped turned the tide as well. After Redlands made 48% from the field, including 50% (6-12) from three-point range, in the first half, Whitworth held the Bulldogs to 39% (overall) and 23% (three-point range) in the second half. McCargar's 21 points were a career-high and he scored 15 of those after halftime. Wade Gebbers also had 21 points, while Dustin McConnell scored 15. George Valle finished with 12 points.
The win over Redlands also marks the seventh straight season that Whitworth has won its first game in the NCAA tournament. The Pirates' win over the Bulldogs was their second of the season and fourth all-time.
Emory University is located in Atlanta, Georgia and is a member of the University Athletic Association (UAA). With an enrollment of nearly 7,000, Emory is a nationally-renowned academic institution.
The Eagles are 20-6 heading into Saturday's game. They finished in a three-way tie for the UAA championship with Rochester (N.Y.) and Washington (Mo.) at 10-4, picking up one of the 18 at-large berths to the national tournament.
It is the Eagles' first trip to the NCAA Div. III tournament since 1990 and they made the most of it by crushing Randolph (Va.) 77-56 at home in the opening round in a game that was not as close as the score might indicate. After racing out to a 41-24 lead at halftime, Emory opened the second half with a 12-0 run to quickly extend the advantage to 53-24.
Whitworth and Emory have never played in men's basketball. The Eagles will be only the second UAA team the Pirates have faced. Whitworth is 1-1 all-time against Washington University of St. Louis.