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Lutes "return to form" with 73-61 win over Pacific on Roger Iverson Night

Brandon Lester / Photo by Bailey Plumb
Brandon Lester / Photo by Bailey Plumb

PARKLAND – Pacific Lutheran tied a season-best with 11 three-pointers as the Lutes built a 21-point second-half lead and held off a late Pacific run to defeat the Boxers 73-61 in a Northwest Conference men's basketball game Saturday night at Names Family Court.

Pacific Lutheran celebrated Hall of Famer Roger Iverson, one of the top scorers in program history, at halftime of Saturday's contest, and the Lutes followed the Hall of Famer's example with one of the best shooting nights of the season. PLU shot an even 50 percent overall (24-of-48), including 57.9 percent from three-point range (11-of-19) to put away the Boxers.

"We returned to form tonight," PLU head coach Steve Dickerson said. "The thing that impressed me about our kids tonight is that last night was really disappointing, and they were tough enough to bounce back."

Brandon Lester made seven of his 10 shot attempts, including four of six from beyond the arc, to score a game-high 22 points, while Jared Christy and Bryce Miller each scored 12 and grabbed eight rebounds. K.C. Harrison made four three-pointers to lead Pacific with 21 points, while DeVon Pouncey added 11 for the Boxers.

Pacific shot 44.1 percent (15-of-34) in the first half before the PLU defense limited the Boxers to 10-of-28 shooting in the second period (35.7 percent). PLU improved to 10-5 overall and 3-3 in conference play, while Pacific fell to 8-7 overall and 2-4 in the NWC.

"Pacific is a good team," Dickerson said. "They're going to be right there in the hunt, so they're a team we have to beat. I think we got out of our funk."

Dylan Foreman opened the game with a three-pointer and the Lutes took a quick 5-0 lead, but the Boxers scored eight straight points and built their largest lead of the night midway through the opening period. Rafe King's three-pointer made it 22-13 in favor of the Boxers, but Kyle Sawtell responded with a three of his own on the Lutes' next possession. The Lutes eventually reclaimed the lead on at 31-30 on a Lester three-pointer, and the junior guard added another the next time down the court as PLU closed the half up 41-35.

The Lutes tried to pull away early in the second half, but Pacific held firm until a 13-0 PLU run midway through the period gave the Lutes a 68-47 lead with just over six minutes remaining. While Pacific rallied late to make the final score closer, that run provided the Lutes enough cushion for the double-digit win.

"The guts of the game there came down to guys like Kyle Sawtell, Andrew Ardissone, Tyson Birrer and Shane Jacob," Dickerson said. "All those guys contributed to that 13-0 run while our starters were on the bench, so that was really big for us."

That complete team effort helped the Lutes break a three-loss streak and claim their 10th win of the season. Now PLU heads into perhaps its most challenging trip of the season, as the Lutes head to eastern Washington to take on top-ranked Whitworth Friday night and 21st-ranked Whitman Saturday night.

"It's a tough road trip," Dickerson said. "We'll have to play well both places, but if we play like we can play then we'll be right there."