Written by Student Assistant Christian Bond
TACOMA, Wash. – The Pacific Lutheran University men's basketball team trailed by 10 just five minutes into the game, but great performances from Kyle Sawtell and Jared Christy launched the Lutes past the University of Dallas 76-66 on Saturday afternoon to cap off the PLU Thanksgiving Classic.
At the 16:03 mark in the first half, the Crusaders (1-4) had a 12-2 lead before the homestanding Lutes (4-2) went on a 16-6 run to tie the game at 18 with 9:18 left in the half. The two teams entered halftime tied at 29. The score was 36-35 in favor of PLU with 16:14 left in the game before PLU ripped off an 18-7 run that lasted 6:05 as PLU cruised to a 10-point win.
"We didn't move the ball well in the beginning of the game," assistant coach Arvid Isaksen said.
"We kind of got complacent on offense, we took early shots in transition and that isn't what we do. After that first media we were able to start pushing the ball and get back to playing Lute basketball."
A big contributor to that second half run was Kyle Sawtell. He led all scorers with 18 points, all coming in the second half. He went six-for-12 from the field, sinking all three of his free throws. Jared Christy was a monster on the glass for the Lutes. He pulled down 19 rebounds while adding 10 points, one assist, one steal, and two blocks.
"Jared is a stud," Isaksen said. "He brings it every day rebounding wise. Kyle shot the ball well today. He's been playing really well for us. Both of those guys have been extremely helpful to our success."
Brandon Lester scored 14 points with a perfect four-for-four effort from the free throw line. Lester had four rebounds and three assists. Garth West scored nine, and grabbed six rebounds. Dylan Foreman had eight, and gathered eight rebounds.
Tyson Birrer led the PLU bench with 10 points. He was four-for-eight from the field, going two-for-four from deep. Andrew Ardissone had three points, three rebounds, and a block. Erik Swartout and Markus Glenn each scored two points.
PLU outrebounded the University of Dallas 49-39. That helped the Lutes gain an edge in second chance points (10-7) and points in the paint (30-26). PLU shot 70 percent from the free throw line going 14-for-20. The team also dished out 15 assists.
Northwest Conference play begins next weekend when the Lutes head down to Oregon to play Lewis & Clark College on Friday at 8 p.m. The next day, PLU plays Pacific University at 6 p.m.
"We got two good teams in Lewis & Clark and Pacific down in Oregon," Isaksen said. "It's going to be a fun work week getting ready for those two teams. We'll be ready to go."