By Christian Bond, PLU Sports Information Student Writer
PARKLAND – In a game that featured 12 ties and 15 lead changes, the Pacific Lutheran men's basketball team scored the final six points of the night to claim a 67-61 Northwest Conference win over George Fox at Names Family Court.
With the game tied at 61-61 with 1:59 remaining, Erik Swartout was fouled going up for a shot. Swartout muscled through the contact, sinking the layup, and converted the free throw to put the Lutes up three. PLU never looked back, making 3-of-4 free throw attempts down the stretch to seal the win. Swartout finished the game with nine points on 4-of-6 shooting, and he dished out four assists.
"Erik probably played the best game he has played all year," PLU head coach Steve Dickerson said. "Bryce Miller has been consistent for us all year. Seth Anderson came in and stepped up for us as well. It was ugly, but at this time of the year, it really doesn't make a difference how you do it, as long as you do it."
Nine different Lute players contributed points to the team's victory. Miller led the way with another double-double – his ninth of the season – as he racked up15 points and 11 rebounds to go with three steals. Brandon Lester poured in 14 points for PLU, including a late 3-pointer that turned a one-point deficit into a two-point advantage. Dylan Foreman was two points away from a double-double, finishing the night with eight points and 10 rebounds. Jared Christy filled up the stat sheet with seven points, eight rebounds and four assists. Anderson played 10 minutes off the bench for the Lutes and contributed six points, two rebounds and one block.
"They played a really difficult style of defense," Miller said. "It's like a 1-3-1, but they did a really good job of matching up on us. We did a good job penetrating the lanes. It feels like Jared found me for 12 of my 15 points with his dump-off passes, which made my job easy. It wasn't the best win that we had, but we definitely toughened up in the second half, played good defense. We held them to zero 3's in the second half, and they are a really good 3-point shooting team."
The presence of Miller, Christy and Anderson was apparent as PLU outscored George Fox 34-18 in the paint. The Lutes held the Bruins to a 37.3 shooting percentage (22-of-59) from the field for the game, and after George Fox shot 6-of-14 (42.9 percent) from beyond the 3-point line in the first half, PLU shut down the GFU long-range attack in the second and held the Bruins scoreless on eight 3-point attempts.
"At their place, they shot something like 50 percent from 3, with an ungodly number of 3's," Dickerson said. "I was proud of the defense. We always play hard, sometimes we just don't execute."
PLU improved to 13-7 on the year, boasting a 6-5 Northwest Conference record that gives the Lutes a two-game lead over Linfield and Pacific for the fourth spot in the standings. The victory against George Fox was also Dickerson's 100th career win with PLU. Dickerson and his team will look to get win number 101 against Linfield on Saturday, with tip-off set for 6 p.m.
"Tomorrow will be another tough game," Dickerson said. "At this point, they are all playoff games."