Written by Student Assistant Christian Bond
SALEM, Ore. – Huge nights from Brandon Lester and Jared Christy led the Pacific Lutheran University men's basketball team to a 78-65 win over Northwest Conference rival Willamette University inside Cone Field House on Friday, extending the Lutes' win streak to four. Lester and Christy combined for 50 points helping the Lutes pull away from the Bearcats in the second half.
PLU (11-9, 6-5 NWC) raced out to a 17-8 lead eight minutes into the game but the host Bearcats (3-17, 1-10 NWC) battled back, closing the gap to just 34-32 at the halftime intermission. Willamette continued to battle in the second half, seizing the lead at 43-41 but the Lutes wouldn't go down without a fight, launching a 30-4 run over the next nine minutes to build a 24-point cushion. Lester ignited the run with a three and the Lutes enjoyed a comfortable lead the rest of the way to secure the 13-point win and the season sweep of Willamette.
Brandon Lester was ridiculous, dropping 29 points on the evening. The senior guard was efficient, going 11-for-15 from the field, knocking down five of his seven three point attempts. Jared Christy also had a monstrous night, scoring 21 points while grabbing eight rebounds. Christy additionally went four-for-five the free throw line.
"We pushed the ball in the beginning of the game and that jump started us offensively," Lester said. "We showed our toughness tonight."
Dylan Foreman led the supporting cast, scoring 10 points in 24 minutes of action. Joshua Baird was efficient, scoring six points while going two-for-three from the field.
The bench scored 11 points on the evening. Tyson Birrer led the group, scoring seven points while grabbing two rebounds. Kyle Sawtell knocked down a three, pulled down six rebounds, and finished with five steals.
"We had good ball movement and points off the defense," Head Coach Steve Dickerson said. "Brandon and Jared took over game"
Pacific Lutheran was on point from deep, going nine-for-19 from three point range (47.4 percent). The defense was stellar for the Lutes, as they won the turnover battle 13-9 and capitalized, scoring 19 points off turnovers. Nine of Willamette's 13 turnovers came courtesy of PLU steals.
The Lutes return to action tomorrow night when they take on George Fox University. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.