Defense Carries PLU to 68-53 Win Over Linfield
PARKLAND - Forcing 19 turnovers and keeping the taller Linfield Wildcats away from the offensive boards on Friday night, Pacific Lutheran rolled to a 68-53 Northwest Conference men's basketball victory in Olson Auditorium.
With the win, the Lutes improve to 6-3 in the conference while also bringing their overall record to 9-9. Linfield is now 2-8 in the NWC and 4-15 overall.
Linfield actually shot the ball better than did the Lutes, converting 51 percent of its shots to just 39 percent for PLU, but the hosts also shot the ball 71 times, 28 more than Linfield. The Lutes went to the offensive boards effectively, grabbing 14, and that helped PLU get more opportunities at the basket.
The Wildcats had 36 rebounds, one less than PLU, but only six of those came on the offensive end of the floor.
Senior point guard James Conti had another stellar night with 16 points, six assists and no turnovers in 27 minutes of action. Cameron Schilling collected 15 points, six rebounds and three steals, and Drew Earnest added 11 points for the winners.
Linfield got 20 points on 10-for-19 shooting from 6-foot 8-inch center Andrew Batiuk.
Pacific Lutheran trailed only once in the game, that at 3-2 after Zach Anderson hit a jump shot about 2 1/2 minutes into the game. PLU then used a 10-2 run, highlighted by two Conti layups and a pair of Schilling three-point baskets, to take a 12-5 advantage. Linfield was able to get within a point, 23-22, on a Brandon Harris three-ball, but the Lutes again pulled away and eventually settled for a 35-26 halftime lead.
Batiuk scored the first basket of the second half to pull the Wildcats to within seven points, but that was as close as they got as Earnest responded with a three-point hoop to give the hosts a double-digit lead that they would not surrender. PLU built its largest lead at 21 points on a couple of occasions in the final half.
PLU finished the game shooting 28-for-71 overall (39 percent) and 8-for-27 from three-point range (29 percent), while Linfield was 22-for-43 (51 percent) and 2-for-8 (25 percent) from beyond the arc.
PLU back in conference action on Saturday, hosting conference cellar-dweller Willamette at 8 p.m. in Olson Auditorium.
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