Jan. 12, 2007
Withers To Play in 100th Career Game
Northwest Missouri State, winner of five of its last six, returns to Bearcat Arena to host the Washburn Ichabods tonight at 7:30 p.m. The 16th-ranked Bearcats (10-2, 2-1 MIAA) have swept the Ichabods (9-3, 1-2) in each of the last two seasons, including an 86-84 double overtime win last year in Maryville.
Taking the floor for the 100th time in his career will be Northwest senior center Matt Withers, who will become the 15th player in school history to reach the century mark. Withers is expected to make his 75th career start. He's scored 627 points and pulled down 419 rebounds in his four-year career.
"I knew it was coming up, but I didn't know it was Saturday," said Withers. "My career here has been everything that I've hoped for. I love it, and I won't want to leave."
Withers recorded his third-career double-double, 10 points and 11 rebounds, in the Bearcats' win against Missouri Western Wednesday in St. Joseph. The 6-7 center from Taylorsville, Utah, is averaging nine points and six boards in conference play this season.
Withers is on pace to become the most accurate shooter in Northwest history. Rick Jolley (1994-96) currently holds that distinction with a 55.5 percent career shooting percentage with a minimum of 300 field goals made. Withers' has 241 field goals and a career percentage of 58.1.
"I don't think anybody can say enough good things about Matt," said Northwest head coach Steve Tappmeyer. "He's grown as a player every year. He has that type of blue-collar toughness that we hope gets contagious so other guys can follow suit."
Withers started six games as a freshman for Tappmeyer. He's started all but seven games since. He's one of few big men to reach 100 assists (130 to be exact) and he currently stands with 86 steals. It's this versatility that Tappmeyer has appreciated most.
"I don't worry as much when a team has a big time inside player because Matt's going to be geared up and ready to go," said Tappmeyer. "He loves a challenge. He has to go against guys that have him outmatched size wise, in athleticism and in reputation, but he gets it done."
Washburn will throw a pair of 6-8 players at Withers in junior Darnell Kimble and senior Brady Sisk. Kimble will start, but Sisk has averaged double figures coming off the bench.
"I've played against Sisk for two years," said Withers. "Washburn has some big guys that can work down low. It's going to be a real team effort to get this win."
All five Northwest starters scored in double figures against Missouri Western Wednesday. It's the fourth time the Bearcats have placed five in double figures this season (4-0).
"We're starting to get used to each other," said Withers. "We struggled with chemistry at the beginning of the year but we're starting to get it together."
Washburn started the year 8-1 with its lone loss to Division-I Kansas, but has dropped two of three to begin MIAA play. The Ichabods beat defending co-champion Central Missouri at home, but has lost road games at Missouri Western and Emporia State.
Angel Santiago, Washburn's leading scorer, comes off the bench and has averaged better than 17 points in his last five games. He's hit 19 3's in that span and handed out 20 assists.
Washburn's 85.2 points per game is second to Emporia State in the league. Northwest has allowed one team to reach 70 points this season.
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