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January 14, 2011

Lewis & Clark's Three-Point Barrage Topples Lutes

PARKLAND - Visiting Lewis & Clark College got out to an early lead behind hot three-point shooting and then held off a stern Pacific Lutheran challenge in the waning minutes Friday night to take a 77-66 Northwest Conference men's basketball victory over the Lutes in Olson Auditorium.

Behind 23 points from Kelly Edwards and 17 more from PJ Taylor, the Pioneers (11-3 overall, 4-1 conference) stayed within a game of first-place Whitworth in the Northwest Conference standings. Pacific Lutheran (8-6, 3-3) got 16 points from James Conti and 15 more from Andrew Earnest in the loss.

In the early part of the game, the Pioneers were hitting long-range jumpers on one end and the Lutes were answering mostly with mid-range jumpers and layups at the other. Edwards and Taylor got their team off to a good start with back-to-back threes, though the Lutes eventually grabbed an 11-8 lead on consecutive layups by Kyle MacTaggart and Conti about six minutes into the contest.

Edward nailed another three to tie the game at 11-11, and he followed with another long ball with 12:19 left in the half to put his team on top, 14-11. Lewis & Clark would not trail the rest of the way. The Pioneers kept the Lutes at arm's length for most of the remainder of the half, though they used a 6-0 spurt, including another three by Taylor, to grab a 37-28 advantage. Lewis & Clark settled for a 40-33 halftime lead.

A 15-4 run over a 4 1/2-minute period in the middle of the second half put the Pioneers on top  71-51 with 7:04 on the clock, and the game seemed to be out of PLU's reach.

The Lutes had one last surge of their own, scoring the next 15 consecutive points to cut the deficit to 71-66 with 1:18 left. Earnest hit threes on either end of the run and Conti scored seven straight points to highlight the spurt.

That was all the scoring for the Lutes, who missed their last five shots while the Pioneers were closing the game by making 6-for-8 at the charity stripe in the final 1:12.

Lewis & Clark shot 56 percent for the game (27-for-48) and 46 percent (11-for-24) from beyond the arc. PLU shot 45 percent (28-for-62) overall and 38 percent (5-for-13) from long range.

In addition to his 16 points, Conti had six assissts and two steals in 30 minutes of action, while the 5-11 Earnest worked inside for seven rebounds, tying L&C's Edwards for game-high honors.

PLU plays its next four conference games on the road, including next Friday's tilt against Linfield in McMinnville, Ore.

- PLU -