Written by Student Assistant Christian Bond
SPOKANE, Wash. – The Pacific Lutheran University men's basketball squad had three players in double figures but it was not enough on Saturday night, falling 80-72 to eighth-ranked Whitworth University in a Northwest Conference battle inside WU Fieldhouse. The Lutes owned the lead at the halftime break before the Pirates pulled away early in the second half.
PLU (7-8, 2-4 NWC) led by as many as five points in the first half, enjoying a slim 34-33 edge at the halftime break. The Pirates (13-2, 4-2 NWC) earned separation in the opening six minutes of the second stanza, scoring 17 of the first 22 points to stake an 11-point lead. PLU whittled the gap to four with 51 seconds left on a Kyle Sawtell layup but free throws down the stretch preserved the win for nationally-ranked Whitworth.
The Pirates offense was efficient, shooting 47 percent (23-for-48) from the field while limiting the Lutes to shooting just 37.7 percent (26-for-69). Whitworth converted from the free throw line going 84.4 percent from the stripe. The Lutes took care of the ball, turning it over just six times to the Pirates 11
"We had better decision making and better focus on the task at hand," said Head Coach Steve Dickerson. "Still fouling too much but a lot of positives. Took 21 more shots against one of the top teams in the country."
Jared Christy was sensational for the Lutes, scoring 26 points while going nine-for-14 from the free throw line. Christy wasn't his usual self in the boards, pulling down just five rebounds.
The rebound leaders came from unusual sources for the Lutes. Brandon Lester and Tyson Birrer each grabbed seven boards. Lester scored 10 points while Birrer led the bench with eight points, going four-for-nine from the field.
"Whitworth was concerned about Christy and our guards were more aggressive," Dickerson said. "Tyson is capable of averaging seven rebounds per game."
Dylan Foreman was efficient in his scoring for the Lutes. He dropped 17 points, going seven-for-12 from the field. He added three rebounds and an assist on the evening. Garth West contributed six points off the bench while getting three rebounds.
PLU travels to the University of Puget Sound on Tuesday night. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.