Written by Student Assistant Christian Bond
TACOMA, Wash. – With five seconds on the clock, Kyle Sawtell knocked down a game winning three to give the Pacific Lutheran University men's basketball team a dramatic 59-57 win over the Northwest Conference rival Lewis & Clark College on Saturday night inside Olson Gymnasium. The back and forth affair featured 18 lead changes and three ties before Sawtell's winner to extend the Lutes' home winning streak to seven games.
Jared Christy grabbed a rebound with 20 seconds left on the clock with PLU (10-9, 5-5 NWC) trailing by one point. The Lutes had two timeouts, but Head Coach Steve Dickerson chose to let his team play it out. It was the right decision, as Andrew Ardissone kicked the ball to Sawtell in the corner. The result was a win for the Lutes.
"Once I shot I was confident with it," Sawtell said. "I was wide open. Didn't think about the time, I just caught it and went up for the shot. It felt good off the hand and went in."
The Lute defense was stout throughout the first half, holding the Pioneers (7-12, 4-6 NWC) to shooting 30 percent (nine-of-30) from the field. Brandon Lester went on a mini tear to close out the half, scoring eight points in the final 67 seconds of the half to put the Lutes up 33-25 at the break.
"We were pretty stagnant on offense, we weren't moving the ball a lot," Lester said. "We ran a play to me, and I made a shot. We kept going to the same play two more times in a row. My teammates got me the ball in the right spot and I hit some shots."
The Lutes made an effort to run the offense through Jared Christy in the second half. The 6 foot 6 inch post scored 13 straight over the closing 9:22 stretch in the second half. Christy finished with 16 points.
"He's a playmaker," PLU assistant coach Arvid Isaksen said. "We need him to have the ball in his hands because he can do a lot of good things. He passes well, he can finish around the rim. Sometimes when he can be inconsistent throughout the game, but when he's consistent, he's the best player in the league."
Lester was deadly from deep going four-for-six as he led the Lutes with 17 points. The guard added five rebounds and assist to his totals. Christy had eight rebounds and two assists to go with his 16 points.
Dylan Foreman had a productive night for the Lutes, scoring 12 points with a perfect six-for- six from the free throw line. Sawtell made one other shot apart from his game winner, finishing the night with six points.
A key run from Lester to the end the first half, and a huge shot from Sawtell won the game for the Lutes, but free throws were just as important. The team was 13-for-14 from the free throw line, finishing the game 92.9 percent effort.
After sweeping the weekend, the Lutes hold sole possession of fifth place in the Northwest Conference. They'll look to continue gaining ground with a pair of games on the road against Willamette University and George Fox University next week.