Rough Weekend Leaves Work For Lutes
THIS WEEK: After two crushing losses to Whitman College and Whitworth University this past weekend, the Pacific Lutheran University men's basketball team will have to work to make the Northwest Conference playoffs. In games separated by several days, the Lutes will take on bitter rivals, the University of Puget Sound, on Tuesday and Lewis & Clark College on Saturday down in Portland, Ore. Tipoff for both games will be at 8 p.m. on Tuesday and Saturday. In their pursuit of a spot in the four-team NWC playoffs, all of the final four games on the 2010-11 schedule are crucial for the Lutes gaining one of the four spots.
LISTEN LIVE: All remaining PLU men's basketball games can be heard live in the Puget Sound area on KLAY 1180 AM, with veteran broadcaster Bob Robertson calling the action. The games can also be heard on the internet - go to http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/plu.portal and select the appropriate game.
ROAD WARRIORS: Of their final four regular season games, the next two come away from Olson Auditorium, and that seems to be good news for this PLU team. The Lutes are currently on a five-game road winning streak in Northwest Conference competition. This is the longest conference road win streak in program history since PLU joined the NWC in the 1965-66 season.
LUTES VS. LOGGERS: In a quick turnaround from the weekend, the Lutes will head across town to take on their Tacoma rivals, the UPS Loggers. Puget Sound (8-13, 5-7) is tied with George Fox for fifth place in the NWC standings, only two games back of the Lutes. Led by senior Kaleb Shelton, who is averaging 15.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, the Loggers have struggled to find the form that saw them claim the NWC title and a perfect conference record in the 2008-09 season. The Lutes are 2-1 in their last three match-ups with UPS after losing 13 straight between 2002 and 2009. PLU lit up Olson Gym earlier in this 2010-11 season when the Lutes smothered the Loggers, 71-59, with senior Curtis Trondsen coming off the bench for PLU to score 16 points in 17 minutes of work. PLU holds a slight edge in overall victories between the sides, winning 65 of the 125 games that the teams have played since 1940. A win on Tuesday will give the Lutes the tie-breaker the Loggers and will make it very difficult on George Fox. PLU has the tie-breaker over George Fox courtesy of the series sweep this year, and GFU still has to visit Whitman College and the unbeaten and No. 1-ranked team in the nation in the Whitworth Pirates.
KEY SATURDAY SHOWDOWN: After a few days rest, the Lutes will travel to Portland, Ore., on Saturday to take on the Lewis & Clark College Pioneers (15-6, 8-4). After an upset loss to George Fox this past weekend, the Pioneers are now tied for second in the NWC with Whitman College. With the backcourt duo of Kelly Edwards (16.6 ppg) and PJ Taylor (16.2 ppg), L&C is potent from behind the arc. In the first meeting between the Lutes and Pios, PLU was out-scored 33-15 from three-point range, with Kelly Edwards going 4-for-5 from deep. In the past seven matchups L&C holds a 4-3 advantage, but the Lutes will hope to steal one on the road this weekend and move up the table before tournament time. Lutes guard Andrew Earnest will hope to match the deep-shot threats from L&C as he is shooting 53.4 percent (39-for-73) from three-point range this season, earning him the top spot in the conference. The showdown of top NWC teams will be an important test for the Lutes as they attempt to establish themselves amongst the best this season.
PASSING GREATNESS: Senior Kyle MacTaggert has joined the 1,000-point club at PLU. With his game-winning lay-up against George Fox on Jan. 28, MacTaggert earned points 1,000 and 1,001 for his career, ranking him 22nd in program history. Since then, MacTaggert has scored 37 more points and needs 83 points in the final four games, and possibly post-season, to pass Seth Albright (1994-98) for 20th. He is averaging 11.1 points a contest this season.
WHITWORTH 85, PLU 59: Unbeaten Whitworth University made a claim to the No. 1 national ranking in Division III men's basketball on Saturday night in Olson Auditorium with an 85-59 Northwest Conference victory over the host Pacific Lutheran Lutes. In winning their 32nd consecutive conference game, the Pirates improved to 21-0 overall and 12-0 in the NWC. They had entered the game ranked No. 2 in the D3hoops.com national poll, but No. 1 Wooster was defeated by Wabash on Saturday, leaving the door open to Whitworth's probable rise to the top spot in the national poll. With the loss, Pacific Lutheran is now 12-8 overall and 7-5 in the conference standings. Junior forward Jack Loofburrow scored 23 of his game-high 31 points in the second half to pace the Pirates to the victory. Loofburrow knocked down a total of eight three-point shots, six in the second half, and some from way beyond the arc. During one stretch in the second half he scored 11 straight points and 17 of his team's 20 points. David Riley poured in 21 points for Whitworth. Victor Bull had a strong game for the Lutes, recording a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Bull, a 6-7 senior post, pounded away inside, grabbing four offensive boards against the taller Pirates, and he also stepped outside to hit a couple of medium-range jumpers. Curtis Trondsen was the only other PLU player in double figures, scoring all 13 of his points in the second half. Both Trondsen and Andrew Earnest, who finished with nine points, drilled a trio of three-point shots. The visitors shot 53 percent from the field (30-for-57), including 46 percent (11-for-24) from beyond the three-point line. The Lutes, meanwhile, made 37 percent overall (21-for-57) and also from long range (7-for-19). The rebounding battle was even at 34 apiece, and both teams took care of the basketball, Whitworth committing just five turnovers and the Lutes only nine.
WHITMAN 69, PLU 57: Brandon Shaw scored 16 points to lead four Whitman players in double figures as the visiting Missionaries spoiled Pacific Lutheran's return to Olson Auditorium with a 69-57 Northwest Conference men's basketball win on Friday night. The Lutes came into the game on a four-game winning streak, all of them on the road. The Missionaries shot 50 percent and limited the Lutes to 41 percent accuracy. PLU took a 12-7 lead on Andrew Earnest's three-point basket with 5 1/2 minutes gone, but Whitman went on a 13-4 run to take a 20-16 lead with 11:43 left in the half. Ignas Pavilonis both started and ended the surge with long-range three pointers. The Missionaries then broke away from a 21-21 tie and eventually took a 35-28 lead into halftime, and they never trailed in the second period. Kyle MacTaggart led PLU with 16 points, including 7-for-8 from the charity stripe, but he was the only Lutes player in double figures. MacTaggart also paced PLU with seven rebounds, though Whitman won that statistic, 32-26.
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