By Christian Bond, PLU Sports Information Student Writer
FOREST GROVE, Ore. – Late-game heroics, tough defense, and a solid night at the free throw line allowed the Pacific Lutheran men's basketball team to edge past the Pacific Boxers for a tight 54-51 Northwest Conference road win Friday night at the Stoller Center.
A Jared Christy free throw tied the game at 51-51 with 32 seconds remaining. With Pacific planning for the final shot and the clock down to single digits Dylan Foreman intercepted a pass, leading to an open court with no one in front of him. Foreman made a layup and was fouled on the play. He converted the and-one, putting the Lutes up three with four seconds left in the game. Tough Lute defense prevented the Boxers from getting a shot off, sealing the deal for the Lutes.
"It was a gut check game," PLU head coach Steve Dickerson said. "We made big plays down the stretch when we had to. Dylan had a big play on a steal."
The PLU defense stood firm, as the Lutes held Pacific to low shooting percentages from every spot on the floor. Pacific shot 36.1 percent (22-of-61) overall from the field and only 12.5 percent (2-of-16) from beyond the arc. The Boxers did not help themselves out, shooting 45.5 percent (5-of-11) from the free throw line. While the Lutes similarly struggled shooting from the field at 34.4 percent overall (21-of-61) and 15.4 percent on 3-pointers (2-of-13), the Lutes gained the advantage at the free throw line. PLU made 10 of 12 shots at the charity stripe (83.3 percent).
"Both teams played good defense," Dickerson said. "We told them before the game it was going to be a street fight, and that's what it was."
Foreman and Brandon Lester each had 12 points in the win. Erik Swartout and Bryce Miller each added eight points, with Miller also grabbing seven rebounds. Christy snagged a game-high 11 rebounds on the night.
Ten different Lutes saw court time in the win. Kyle Sawtell played 15 minutes and Tyson Birrer played 14, while Seth Anderson and Shane Jacob each played 11 minutes and Markus Mitchell Glenn played five minutes. The group provided great effort on defense, as they combined for seven of the team's 40 rebounds. Their play proved crucial in a game that featured eight tie scores and eight lead changes.
"Our bench gave us good minutes," Dickerson said. "Kyle, Tyson, Seth, Markus and Shane all contributed. All five of those guys gave us good minutes off the bench at critical times."
The Lutes improved to 15-7 overall and 8-5 in conference play with the win, and they'll have an opportunity to clinch a Northwest Conference Tournament appearance with a win Saturday night at Lewis & Clark. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. in Portland.
"We are going at it one game at a time," Dickerson said. "We demonstrated that we can win that close game. Tomorrow I hope we shoot a little better and keep defending the way we have been."