MACTAGGART IS NWC HM PICK: Kyle MacTaggart, Pacific Lutheran's leading scorer this season, earned All-Northwest Conference honorable mention accord in a vote of the league coaches. The 6-4 junior wing averaged 15.2 points and shot exactly 50 percent from the field in 16 Northwest Conference games. MacTaggart averaged 4.6 rebounds during conference action, second best on the team. He scored a career-high 31 points in a Jan. 22 win at Willamette. For the entire All-NWC team, click here.
BETTER THAN EXPECTED: While Pacific Lutheran came up short in its bid to earn a Northwest Conference postseason tournament berth, it far exceeded preseason expectations of the league coaches. The NWC preseason coaches poll showed PLU finishing last in the nine-team league. Instead, the Lutes finished 7-9 in conference play, good for fifth place. The Lutes, with only one senior, compiled a 9-14 season record.
ONE SENIOR, LOTS OF RETURNEES: Gabe Smith, a 6-1 guard out of Tahoma High School in Maple Valley, Wash., was the only senior on PLU's 2009-10 team. He played in 20 games, starting 15, and averaged 5.3 points and 4.2 rebounds per contest. That leaves 13 other players, including the top six scorers and top two rebounders, returning for the 2010-11 campaign. That's a good place for PLU head coach Steve Dickerson to start.
LUTE NOTES: Kyle MacTaggart and Curtis Trondsen, a pair of juniors, were the only PLU players to average in doubles figures this season, MacTaggart at 14.2 points and Trondsen at 10.4 points. Sophomore point guard James Conti was close behind at 9.6 points per game and junior post Victor Bull finished with an average of 8.3 points per contest. Bull led the Lutes in rebounding wtih an average of 5.3 boards per game, followed by MacTaggart at 4.4 per contest. Conti led the Lutes with averages of 3.7 assists and 1.9 steals per game.
BEARCATS TOUGH AT BEGINNING AND END: Willamette jumped out to a big first half lead, weathered a furious Pacific Lutheran rally in the middle of the second half, and then pulled away late in defeating the host Lutes, 80-58, in a conference game played last Friday night in Olson Auditorium. The visiting Bearcats blitzed the Lutes in the opening half, opening up a 38-22 lead at the intermission. Willamette took a 45-26 lead with 18:08 left in the game, and that when the Lutes started their charge, whittling away their deficit and closing to three points, 54-51, on a Curtis Trondson layup with 8:43 left in the game. That's all the closer the Lutes would get, however, as the Bearcats responded with a 20-2 run. Gabe Smith and Victor Bull were the only PLU players in double figures, both scoring 10 points. Bull led the Lutes with seven rebounds.
SMITH FINISHES STRONG: Gabe Smith closed his PLU men's basketball career with 10 points and 12 rebounds as the Lutes defeated the visiting George Fox Bruins, 70-67, last Saturday night in Olson Auditorium. The Lutes rallied from an early 10-point deficit, making plays in the closing minutes of the game to pull out the victory. The Bruins raced out to a 17-7 lead barely five minutes into the game as Travis Toedtemeier knocked down a trio of three-point shots and Dan Lingenfelder added two more. That shooting set the tone throughout the contest as the Bruins were 15-for-32 from beyond the arc, good for 47 percent accuracy. After the Lutes took a 36-34 advantage on James Conti's three-point basket two minutes into the half, the Bruins regained the lead and held it for most of the final period. PLU finally went ahead for good, 63-60, on Conti's layup and ensuing foul shot with 2:27 left. Curtis Trondsen knocked down a pair of foul shots with five seconds left to give the Lutes a 70-67 margin, setting the scene for one last George Fox effort to tie the game. Instead, Kyle MacTaggart stripped the ball from Alex Stockner as he rose for a three-point shot, and the Lutes grabbed the loose ball as time expired. Trondsen led the Lutes with 16 points, followed Victor Bull with 11 points and Smith and Conti with 10 each.
- PLU -