Lutes Host "Whits" After Three Straight NWC Wins
THIS WEEK: Pacific Lutheran (5-6 overall, 3-1 Northwest Conference) hosts Whitman (9-4, 3-1), Friday, 6 p.m.; PLU hosts Whitworth (11-2, 4-0), Saturday, 4 p.m.
FLIP FLOP: For the first time, Northwest Conference men's and women's basketball games played this weekend will be switched with the men playing first, followed by the women. Thus, if you want to watch the entirety of the PLU men's games, be in Olson Auditorium by 6 p.m. on Friday and by 4 p.m. on Saturday. Once those games are done, stick around and enjoy some outstanding NWC women's basketball action. The same schedule will be in play when the Lutes travel to Eastern Washington to play these same two teams in February.
LISTEN TO THE LUTES: You can listen
to this weekend's PLU men's basketball games on KLAY 1180
AM in the Tacoma area and also at www.klay1180.com. Long-time
announcer Bob Robertson returns to call the action for the
MORE CONFERENCE ACTON: After sweeping a pair of perennial powers in the Northwest Conference last week, the Pacific Lutheran returns to action this weekend at home. The Lutes will host Whitman and Whitworth, the only two NWC teams with winning records at this point in the season.
ABOUT THE MISSIONARIES: Whitman comes to Parkland boasting the highest scoring offense in the Northwest Conference. Through 13 games, the Missionaries have averaged 88.7 points per contest, 6.5 points more than second-ranked Whitworth. Along with a lot of points for the Missionaries, their up-tempo style of play leads to a lot of points for their opponents as well. Whitman ranks seventh in the NWC in scoring defense, giving up 80.7 points per game. The Missionaries' +8.0 scoring margin ranks second in the conference behind only Whitworth. Although Whitman scores a lot of points, the Missionaries struggle shooting the ball. Whitman ranks seventh in the conference in field goal percentage at .407. The Missionaries lead the conference in both steals (12.08 per game) and turnover margin (+8.15), but they rank last in assist/turnover ration (.65). Whitman boasts great balance, with five players averaging double-digit points per game, led by Brandon Shaw's 14.8. Shaw also leads the conference with 37 steals in 13 games, an average of 2.85 per contest.
THE SERIES: Pacific Lutheran has dominated Whitman since the two teams first met during the 1953-54. The Lutes own a 68-30 record in the series, including five separate streaks of at least six consecutive wins. The two teams split last season's contests, with the Lutes taking a 105-97 victory in the first meeting and Whitman pulling out a tight 69-68 win in the second game.
ABOUT THE PIRATES: Through 13 games, Whitworth has been the class of the Northwest Conference this season. The Pirates rank second in the league in scoring offense with 82.2 points per game and first in scoring defense, holding opponents to 69.6 points per contest. Whitworth boasts the league's best scoring margin by far at +12.6. The Pirates also lead the conference in field goal percentage (.469), field goal percentage defense (.419), rebounding defense (34.1), assists per game (16.77), assist/turnover ratio (1.5) and made three-point field goals per game (8.85). Whitworth ranks second in three-point field goal percentage (.376). The Pirates boast five players ranking in the NWC's top 30 in scoring: Nate Montgomery (7th, 15.2 points per game), Eric Beal (tied-11th, 13.9), David Riley (16th, 12.9), Jack Loofburrow (25th, 10.9) and Bo Gregg (30th, 9.6). Montgomery also ranks fifth in the conference in rebounding, averaging 7.2 per contest. Beal ranks first in assist/turnover ratio (2.61), second in assists (6.23 per game) and fourth in free throw percentage (.850) and steals (2.23).
THE SERIES: Whitworth has won the last seven meetings with the Lutes to pull even in the overall series at 64-64. Pacific Lutheran dominated the series between the first meeting in the 1946-47 season and the 1980-81 season. After the teams' first meeting in the 1980-81 season, the Lutes held a 50-24 advantage in the series. Since that time, the Pirates have gone 40-14 aganst the Lutes. Whitworth swept last season's contests by scores of 88-60 and 83-57.
PLU 96, PUGET SOUND 81: Kyle MacTaggart scored 24 points to lead five players in double figures as Pacific Lutheran ended a 13-game losing streak to the Puget Sound Loggers. The Lutes overcame a seven-point halftime deficit by taking care of the basketball and shooting 53 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes. After a fast start, the Lutes turned the ball over 13 times in the first half to fall behind, 48-41, at the intermission. The final 20 minutes was a completely different story, however, as the Lutes out-scored the hosts, 55-33. Interestingly, both teams enjoyed their largest leads in the second half, the Lutes taking an 18-point advantage with 27 seconds left in the game after the Loggers had taken a 10-point lead in the opening 20 seconds of the final period. The Lutes out-scored the Loggers by 28 points during a 19-minute stretch. MacTaggart continued his recent run of outstanding offensive basketball, making 8-of-12 shots from the field, including 3-of-4 from beyond the arc, on his way to a game-high 24 points. Joining the 6-4 junior wing in double-figure scoring were Curtis Trondsen with 14, Gabe Smith and Victor Bull with 13 each and Cameron Schilling with 11. Schilling, a 6-5 freshman forward, was a strong physical presence under the basket, tying the hustling 6-1 Smith for game-high rebound honors with nine. That duo helped the Lutes to a 50-39 dominance on the backboards. The Lutes finished the game shooting 48 percent (32-of-67) from the field, including 6-of-14 from beyond the three-point arc. PLU also made 79 percent of its free throws (26-of-33).
PLU 83, LEWIS & CLARK 73: Freshman Cameron Schilling scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead Pacific Lutheran to an 83-73 victory over the visiting Lewis & Clark College Pioneers. Schilling, a freshman forward out of Federal Way's Decatur High School, made 7-of-10 shots from the field and both of his free throw attempts. He grabbed eight of his rebounds on the defensive end and helped Pacific Lutheran to a 48-36 dominance in that category. Andrew Earnest came off the bench to score 15 points in the winning cause, and he was followed by Kyle MacTaggart with 12 points and James Conti with 11. The Lutes shot 47 percent from the field (31-of-66) and 29 percent (5-of-17) from three-point range. PLU enjoyed an advantage at the foul line, making 16-of-20 to just 5-of-11 for the visitors, who took more than half of their shots from beyond the three-point line.
LUTES BY THE NUMBERS: Kyle MacTaggart, a 6-4 junior wing from Goodyear, Ariz., leads the Lutes in scoring with an average of 14.2 points per game. James Conti, a 5-10 sophomore point guard from Edmonds, scores 10.8 points and 3.64 assists per game, while Victor Bull, a 6-7 junior post from San Francisco, averages 10.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Bull averages 28.73 minutes per game to lead a team that has eight players seeing an average of at least 14 minutes per contest. PLU is shooting 36 percent from three-point range but needs to figure out how to slow down its opponents, who are making nearly 49 percent of their attempts from the field. They've also got to figure out how to get more first half offense - while PLU has out-scored its opponents by 32 points (452-420) overall in the second half this season, the Lutes have been out-scored by 66 points (421-355) in the opening period. The Lutes, additionally, are a plus 0.2 rebounds per game compared to their opponents.
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