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UMAC Game of the Week: Northwestern at Bethany Lutheran - Men's Basketball

The Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) Game of the Week is a feature that takes place each week throughout the conference portion of the season with one contest being selected and highlighted as the UMAC Game of the Week.  

The week's UMAC Game of the Week will tipoff at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 8 as the Bethany Lutheran and Northwestern men's basketball teams square off in a game that has post-season tournament implications for both teams. 

About the Eagles

Northwestern has been led by its quartet of seniors, Wade Chitwood, Tom Gisler, Lance Westberg, Ellis Libby who are currently averaging a total of 49.2 points per game for the Eagles. Collectively, the group has posted a .463 field goal percentage while also making 41.3% of their long-range attempts. Gisler’s sharp-shooting currently leads the conference in triple percentage, while Chitwood also ranks in the same category’s top five.  

Heading into Friday night’s contest, the Eagles have won six of their last seven games en route to a 15-6 overall record. NWC’s past two UMAC matchups have been decided by three points or less, while four of the Purple and Gold’s six season losses have been determined by a single possession margin.

Northwestern is currently ranked atop the UMAC in rebounds per game, with a mark of 38.8, and assists, after dishing out an average of 17.8 a night. At the national level, NWC is fourth among Division III teams in assist turnover ratio and eighth in assists per contest, thanks in part to Ellis Libby’s 113 season assists. With that mark, Libby currently holds the top conference spot in both total and per game assists.   

About the Vikings

Bethany controls its own destiny in their quest to repeat as UMAC regular season champions. In order to so, they'll need to go on a revenge tour. The tour begins Friday at home against Northwestern. The Eagles kept the Vikings out of the NCAA Tournament a season ago by beating Bethany in the UMAC Championship Game. Saturday they entertain North Central, a Rams team that beat Bethany earlier this season. (Northwestern leads both Bethany and North Central by a game in the UMAC standings.) The regular season concludes with a pair of road contests against UM-Morris and Crown. The Storm defeated Bethany in Mankato on January 25.

The Vikings success depends on their senior leadership, and most notably, Derek Peterson. He ranks in the top ten in the conference in points, rebounds, assists, and blocks. Peterson and fellow senior, Gavin Kroehler, became the fifth and sixth Vikings to score their 1000th career point and they achieved that feat on the same night in a win over Northland January 18.

Game Notes

- Bethany's Alex Weldon is one point away from joining Peterson and Kroehler in the 1000-point club.

- This is a matchup of teams that control the ball. Northwestern commits the fewest errors at 11.5 turnovers per game while Bethany is 2nd at 12.8 a contest.

- The teams have split their last two meetings with Bethany earning the win in January of this year and Northwestern victorious in the 2012 UMAC Tournament Championship.

For information on other contests around the league this week, visit the UMAC live scoreboard.