By Jackson Sundheim
The Lewis & Clark men’s and women’s basketball teams are entering the most challenging phase of the 2017-18 season as they prepare to face off against some of the highest-ranked teams in the Northwest Conference (NWC) and the nation.
The Pios competed on Jan. 27 against the Willamette University Bearcats, which resulted in a 71-51 defeat for the women’s team, setting them behind the Bearcats to be ranked 4th in the NWC with a win-loss record of 5-5. When the men’s team took the court in the second half a strong effort in the paint led them to a close 62-57 victory, putting them in 7th place in the NWC with a record of 3-7.
“We’ve been having a hard time trying to close out games, and we really needed to close this one out just to give us confidence,” guard Daelon Floyd ’21 said.
Next, the Pios will face their most formidable opponents, Whitman and Whitworth, in back-to-back games on Feb. 2 and Feb. 3 in Pamplin Gymnasium. The Whitman men’s basketball team is the top-ranked NCAA Division III team in the nation, and the women’s team is also ranked highly at number five. The Whitworth Pirates also rank highly within the NWC, with the men’s team at number two and the women’s team at number seven.
“I’ve got the utmost confidence that we can beat these guys and win these games,” Floyd said. “I really believe so.”
“Both teams are very solid, so we will be working hard all week to prepare,” assistant women’s basketball coach Kristina Williams said.
After playing Whitman and Whitworth, the Pioneers will have more teams to face. These will include home games against Pacific Lutheran on Feb. 9 and Puget Sound on Feb. 17, as well as away games against Linfield on Feb. 10 and George Fox on Feb. 16.