TACOMA, Wash. - Darne Duckett equaled a game-high of 21 points off the bench to lead four players in double figures and the No. 2 Whitman College men's basketball team completed its third straight undefeated Northwest Conference season with a 96-78 win over Pacific Lutheran Saturday night at Olsen Gymnasium.
The Blues (24-1, 16-0 NWC), having already clinched the top seed in next week's NWC Tournament, shot a blistering 53% from the field and an even more impressive 46% in three pointers. Whitman now sets its sights on a Thursday, Feb. 21 matchup against Puget Sound at the Sherwood Center.
Joey Hewitt scored 17 points, Jack Stewart added 11 points on 3-6 shooting from beyond the arc and Cedric Jacobs-Jones put up a 10-point, six rebound performance. The Lutes shot at a high clip as well (49%) but ultimately were unable able to keep up with Whitman's pace who finished the game with a 46-16 disparity in bench points.
For the Wildcats, who were firmly planted into the third seed and will travel to Whitworth in one semifinal, Leighton Kingman and Zac Webb both dropped 21 points with Kelton Williams adding 15 points and five assists.
The Blues jumped on the Lutes early, scoring 10 of the game's first 11 points through just over three minutes of play. Duckett capped the run with an and-one three point play. PLU stemmed the tide but the Blues continued to lead, even pushing it to as many as 20 points late in the first half. Jaron Kirkley's jumper with 4:45 remaining gave his team a 55-35 lead. Kingman's three pointer cut the Whitman lead to 13 points but Austin Butler found Kirkley for an easy layup just as time expired to put the Blues up 59-44 at halftime.
PLU returned from the locker and opened the second half with an 8-0 run to shave the lead to 59-52. The Blues then did a little stemming of the tide themselves as back-to-back three pointers from Stewart and Duckett followed by a Butler layup re-established control. Duckett continued his hot shooting, connecting from three to give his team a 75-60 lead with 12:08 remaining.
The lead never got below 11 as the Blues raced away with the win. Butler contributed a solid effort, scoring eight points while dishing out a game-high seven assists.