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December 20, 2011

Lutes Head To Texas For Trinity National Invitational

THIS WEEK: The Pacific Lutheran University men's basketball team travels to San Antonio, Texas for two games at the Trinity National Invitational. At 4-5 on the season, the Lutes head to Texas looking to snap a three-game losing streak. Although Pacific Lutheran is in the midst of a three-game skid, the Lutes have faced a tough schedule during the streak including NAIA No. 10 Northwest University, NCAA Division I Eastern Washington University, and NCAA Division II Saint Martin's University. As the Lutes get back into Division III play, they will look to snap the losing streak and get their record back above the .500 mark. Wednesday afternoon, PLU takes on the University of Redlands Bulldogs. Tip-off is set for 4:00 p.m. The next day, the Lutes are back in action against the Wheaton College Thunder. Game time is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.

A LOOK AT THE BULLDOGS: Reigning from the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, the University of Redlands Bulldogs are 3-4 in the 2011-12 season. After opening the season with four straight losses, the Bulldogs have rattled off three wins in their past four games and took the crown at the Lee Fulmer Tournament. Redlands brings a balanced offensive attack as five players are averaging 10+ points per game. Junior Brian Kuklok leads the team with 13.1 points per contest. Center Jack Colston leads the Bulldogs with 9.4 rebounds per game. The 6-10 senior is also averaging 10.7 points per game. The Lutes and Bulldogs have met only one other time in the history between these two programs. During the 1960-61 season, PLU beat Redlands by a score of 97-80.

HERE COMES THE THUNDER: At 7-2 this season, the Wheaton College Thunder have dropped out of the D3hoops.com Top 25 poll after opening the season occupying the No. 13 spot. Continuity is the key for the Thunder this season as the starting lineup in Wheaton's first nine games has not changed. Senior tandem Tim McCrary and Aaron Garriott lead the Thunder offense this season. McCrary is averaging 18.4 points per game while Garriott adds 17 points per contest. McCrary also adds a strong presence on the boards averaging 7.6 rebounds per game. PLU and Wheaton have met one other time in the series history. In the 2007-08 season, the Lutes dropped an 86-71 decision to the Thunder.

SMU 69, PLU 52: Saint Martin's shot 59 percent from the field while limiting Pacific Lutheran to 34 percent accuracy in taking a 69-52 victory in a non-conference men's basketball contest played Monday night in Marcus Pavilion. The NCAA Division II Saints improved their season record to 5-6 and also got a measure of revenge against the Division III Lutes, who upset the Saints last season in Parkland. With the defeat, PLU is now 4-5 this season. Roger O'Neill led the Saints with 17 points on 8-for-14 shooting from the field, and Jeremy Green ended up with 16 points while shooting 8-for-12. Brok Pendleton had a double-double with 10 points and 15 rebounds, including 11 on the defensive end of the floor. The Saints opened the game by scoring the first 12 points, holding the Lutes without a basket until Cameron Schilling's layup with 12:43 on the clock. SMU showed patience on offense in the opening period, turning the ball over just three times and shooting 65 percent from the field in building a 35-24 halftime lead. Green had 14 of his points at the break, shooting 7-for-9 from the field. Pacific Lutheran got its deficit under 10 points at 39-30 about 2 1/2 minutes into the second half when Johnny Tveter went to the floor for a steal, passed to James Conti, who hit Drew Earnest to finish off a fast break. The Saints replied with a clutch three-point basket by Roger Votaw the next time down the floor, and they gradually pulled away from the Lutes after that. The hosts led by as many as 20 points on a couple of occasions before settling for the 17-point win. Saint Martin's ended up shooting 32-for-54 from the field but got to the foul line only five times, making two of those. Conti scored 13 points to lead PLU, but he was the only Lute player to hit double figures in scoring. He added five rebounds to his line. Schilling had seven rebounds and four assists for the Lutes, who were 20-for-59 from the field and 4-for-15 (27 percent) from three-point land.

EWU 82, PLU 72: Steve Dickerson, sixth-year head coach of the Pacific Lutheran Lutes, loved his team's effort but rued the missed opportunity to pull a major upset. Jim Hayford, the first-year head coach of the Eastern Washington Eagles, surely didn't expect it to be this close. PLU, a NCAA Division III school, came into EWU's Reese Court and gave the NCAA Division I Eagles all they could handle before dropping a 83-72 non-conference men's basketball decision on Friday night. Eastern Washington improves its record to 6-5, while the Lutes are now 4-4 this season. Eastern is the same team that two days prior battled Pac-12 powerhouse UCLA before losing by 13 points on the road, and that eight days ago destroyed Linfield, like PLU a member of the Northwest Conference, by 50 points. Suffice to say that Hayford, formerly the head coach at NWC member Whitworth, may not soon again put PLU on his new team's schedule. Pacific Lutheran pulled within three points of the Eagles, 65-62, on Kai Hoyt's layup with 5:55 left in the game. With 2:03 left, Cameron Reister drilled his fifth three-point basket of the game to make it a six-point game at 74-68. After that, however, Eastern gradually pulled away for the 11-point victory. The Lutes hung with the Eagles through the first 10 minutes of the game, though they never led. Cameron Schilling, who scored nine of the team's first 11 points, hit a three-point basket and a jumper to help the Lutes tie the game at 3-3 and then at 5-5 about 2 1/2 minutes into the contest. Those were the only ties in the contest. PLU pulled to within four points, 23-19, on Hoyt's layup with 12:12 left in the opening half, but Eastern eventually broke away from the Lutes. Using a 9-0 run, capped by Cliff Collimon's three-point run with 5:32 left, Eastern opened up a 42-24 lead with 5:32 in the half. PLU held Eastern without a point the rest of the period, however, and Terrell Williams buried a a three-point shot with 27 seconds left as the Lutes closed out the period with a 9-0 run of their own to trail, 42-33, at the break. Eastern led fairly comfortably by low double digits for more than 10 minutes of the second half before Reister led a spirited Pacific Lutheran rally. Reister's second trey in a one-minute stretch made the score 60-52 with 9:39 left, and a couple of minutes later Drew Earnest and Reister drilled threes to make it a five-point Eastern lead. Hoyt followed with his layup with just under six minutes on the clock, but three points was as close as the Lutes would come. Colimon scored five straight points to put Eastern on top 79-68 with 32 second left, and the Eagles held off the Lutes by hitting four consecutive free throws in the closing seconds. Collimon and Collin Chiverton both scored 26 points to lead Eastern, while Cliff Ederaine added 12 points. Eastern shot 57 percent overall and 50 percent (11-for-22) from three-point range. Collimon and Chiverton both knocked down four three-point shots. PLU, which owned a 29-26 rebounding edge against the much bigger Eagles, got 18 points from Schilling, 15 from Reister and 14 from Hoyt. All of Reister's points came on three-point baskets as he scorched the nets with 5-for-10 accuracy from long range. Hoyt, a 6-foot-4 wing, led all players with six rebounds. Senior point guard James Conti contributed seven assists and Schilling had five as the Lutes finished with 18 assists on their 25 baskets. The Lutes shot 47 percent from the field overall (25-for-53) and 48 percent from three-point range (10-for-21).