Dec. 8, 2008

Courtesy of Whitman College

WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- After falling behind by 22 points seven minutes into the second half, the Whitman College men's basketball team rallied down the stretch before falling by a single point, 79-78, to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) in Saturday's championship game of the 61st Annual Lee Fulmer Tournament in Redlands, Calif.

Playing its fifth game in nine days, Whitman pulled to within 74-73 when Max Adcox (Eagle, Idaho; Bishop Kelly HS) nailed a 3-pointer with 52 seconds left to play. But the Missionaries misfired on their next 3-point attempt and CMS cashed in four three throws to push its lead back to five points.

Whitman wasn't quite done. Brandon Shaw (Dallas, Texas; Colleyville Heritage HS) made two free throws with 18 seconds left, and after the Stags missed three of their next four charity tosses, Jordan Wheeler (Seattle, Wash.; Seattle Prep) hit a 3-pointer with two seconds remaining to cut the CMS lead to 79-78.

That was it for the scoring, however, as the Stags escaped with the win, improving to 6-1 on the season. Whitman, which slipped to 3-4, played last weekend in San Antonio, Texas, and then headed to Redlands for Thursday's start of the tournament.

Senior Chris Faidley (Shoreline, Wash.; King's HS) paced Whitman's offense with 29 points. Shaw, a freshman, added 23 points, five rebounds and three steals. Wheeler had nine points and four assists.

Faidley, who averaged 25.3 points in his three tournamant games, was named to the all-tournament team. He also climbed another rung on Whitman's all-time scoring list, increasing his career point total to 1,383. That moves him into the seventh spot at Whitman, past 1959 graduate Max Johnson, who scored 1,354 points.

CMS's victory Saturday night was due in large part to Chris Blees, who was a one-man show with 35 points, nine rebounds and five assists.

Whitman was up 5-4 to start the game, but CMS uncorked a 17-6 run to lead 21-11 with 11:10 left in the first half. The Stags extended their advantage to as many as 14 points, but Faidley was fouled on a 3-point attempt at the buzzer and made all three free throws to trim Whitman's deficit to 41-30 at the break.

CMS pulled away to start the second half and led 58-36 with 13:01 mark left to play. The Stags did not score again for nearly five minutes, however, as Whitman climbed back into the game. Faidley's 3-pointer with 4:38 remaining had the Missionaries within four points, 66-62, and the outcome was in doubt the rest of the way.

The Missionaries, who have played their first seven games on the road, head to Portland next Saturday to battle Warner Pacific.