Contact: Mark Albanese, Director of Sports Communication
PORTLAND, Ore. - A sluggish start ultimately sabotaged the Pacific Lutheran University men's basketball team in Friday's Northwest Conference opener, stumbling 84-62 to Lewis & Clark College inside the Pamplin Sports Center.
The host Pioneers (1-5, 1-0 NWC) staked an early 11-0 lead three minutes into the game and never looked back, leading wire-to-wire. The Lutes (4-3, 0-1 NWC) closed within a possession on three occasions in the opening stanza, heading into the locker room at half trailing just 40-35.
Pacific Lutheran didn't back down in the second half, utilizing a 9-3 spurt to close within a single point at 45-44 with 17:08 remaining on a Sean McLaughlin layup. Lewis & Clark answered with a three from Markel Leonard and slowly earned separation, building and holding a double-digit advantage for the final nine minutes in the league opener for both teams.
"Lewis & Clark was very good and well prepared and we weren't," said Head Coach Steve Dickerson.
Brandon Lester collected 23 points on the night, hitting four three-pointers and going nine-for-21 from the field. His point production was matched on the other side of the court by Lewis & Clark's Markel Leonard who had 23 points on eight-for-10 shooting.
McLaughlin had a career night for the Lutes, hitting seven of his 10 shots and pouring on 14 points off the bench. Dylan Foreman chipped in eight points and five boards while Joshua Baird secured a team-leading eight rebounds and Erik Swartout had five assists.
"Sean played well on the offensive end and Brandon had his moments. Erik pushed the ball well for us tonight but overall our preparation was poor and that's on me as the head coach."
PLU owned a 32-26 edge in points in the paint but was unable to keep pace with the Pioneers offense that owned a 29-8 advantage in fast break points. The Lutes shot 39.4 percent (26-for-66) from the field while the hosts enjoyed a 54.4 percent shooting percentage (31-for-57). That included PLU shooting just 34.3 percent (12-for-35) in the second half while Lewis & Clark hit 18 of its 31 attempts (58.1 percent) in the final 20 minutes.
Pacific Lutheran returns to the hardwood tomorrow evening, facing Pacific University at 6 p.m. to close out its two game tour of Oregon.