Written by Student Assistant Christian Bond
TACOMA, Wash. – After a huge win against George Fox University last Saturday, the Pacific Lutheran University men's basketball squad returns home for a pair of games inside Olson Gymnasium. The first happens on Friday when the Lutes host Willamette University at 8 p.m. for Military Appreciation Night and then face Lewis & Clark College on Saturday at 6 p.m.
PLU (4-8, 1-3 Northwest Conference) picked up their first conference win of the year with a thrilling 91-90 win over George Fox. The Lutes played tremendously, but the win wouldn't have happened without Zac Webb. With five seconds left, Webb hit the game tying and winning free-throws for the Lutes.
"As I stepped to the line I felt nervous but I just imagined myself at the park near my house where I had spent countless hours shooting and practicing," Webb said. "I thought of it as another two free throws I had to make to end my workout like I have done forever. My dad always comes and rebounds for me while I shoot. It's funny because we always talk about how shooting at the park makes me a better shooter because at the park we're outside, hoops are metal and the rims are stiff, and I'm playing with a bouncy rubber ball. Afterwards my dad talked about how all those hours and hard work had prepared me for that moment."
Webb has provided the Lutes with toughness in the paint. At just six foot, five inches, the junior out of Enumclaw, Washington is undersized for a center. It isn't slowing him down. Webb is having his best year as a Lute, averaging 21.5 minutes per game, 5.8 points per game on a 47.3 percent field goal percentage. Webb rebounds as well as anyone on the team, pulling down 4.6 boards per game. All of those statistics, are career-highs.
"Since middle school I have been playing against guys that were taller than me," Webb said. "I'm used to it by now. I've been able to be successful this year by playing to my strengths and taking what the defense gives me. Offensively, I can use my mid-range game to my advantage by shooting jumpers over my defenders if they sit in the paint. Defensively, I have to be very smart, scrappy, and work harder than the guy I am guarding. I gotta do my work early to front the post and to prevent deep post catches. It's all about leverage, I have to be lower than my man when fighting around to front the post and when I am boxing him out on a rebound."
The Lutes return home on Friday for a game against Willamette at 8 p.m. The on Saturday, the Lutes play Lewis & Clark at 6 p.m. Friday's game will include free admission to all members of the armed forces as part of Military Appreciation Night.
Jan. 12: PLU vs. Willamette at Olson Gymnasium (8 p.m.)
Series History: The Lutes and Bearcats have met on 114 occasions with PLU owning a 61-53 edge in the all-time series. The Lutes have won 12 of the last 14 encounters, including sweeping the series last season with an 81-70 win on Jan. 7 in Tacoma and a 77-65 decision on Feb. 3 in Salem, Oregon.
About the Bearcats: Willamette (6-7, 1-3 NWC) heads to Tacoma looking to snap a three-game slide. The Bearcats toppled non-conference foe Trinity University(Texas) by a 75-66 scoreline on Dec. 29 but has since dropped contests at the hands of Elmhurst College (82-80), Linfield College (65-49), and the University of Puget Sound (105-87).
Three Bearcats average double-digit scoring production including Jordan Jenkins who leads the way with an 11.7 points per game average. Brendon McCullough adds 11.3 ppg with Nico Troplent collecting 10.5 ppg. Jenkins additionally leads the Bearcats on the glass with 7.9 rebounds per game along with dishing out a team-high 3.5 assists per game.
Jan. 13: PLU vs. Lewis & Clark at Olson Gymnasium (6 p.m.)
Series History: The Lutes and Pios have battled 126 times on the hardwood with PLU holding a 69-57 edge in the series. The two teams split the series last season with L&C prevailing 84-62 in Portland on Dec. 2 before the Lutes got the last laugh with a 59-57 win on Jan. 28 in Tacoma.
About the Pioneers: Lewis & Clark (4-9, 0-4 NWC) heads into the weekend still searching for its first road win of the season. The Pios downed intracity rival Portland Bible College 77-65 on Dec. 20 but have struggled since, dropping their last four games heading into their clash on Friday against Linfield.
Lewis & Clark hung tough last weekend's against the nation's elite. The Pios battled hard in a 98-91 setback to third-ranked Whitworth University before falling 79-72 to top-ranked Whitman College.
Four Pios average double figure scoring with Andrew Vickers leading the charge with a 15.9 points per game average along with a team-best 5.5 rebounds per game.