Forward Cameron Schilling did a little bunny-hop move, then skipped toward the middle of the floor ready to burst.
The senior at Pacific Lutheran University had made practically every shot from the floor all game. Why not a 30-footer prayer to tie fourth-ranked Whitworth?
Schilling’s buzzer-beating attempt hit the inside of the front rim and fell off, and the Northwest Conference-leading Pirates got out of town with a 71-68 victory over the Lutes.
Dustin McConnell led Whitworth (18-1, 10-0) with 18 points. His two free throws with five seconds remaining gave the Pirates a 71-68 lead.
The Lutes tried throwing a long pass from backcourt that was deflected by the Pirates. Somehow the basketball ended up in Schilling’s hands near the left sideline, and he unleashed the 30-foot 3-point attempt.
“It was dead on,” Schilling said.
That the Lutes were even in the game was due to Schilling’s fantastic all-around effort. He scored 25 points on 10-for-13 shooting. He used an array of moves to get just enough space to launch baseline jumpers or floaters in the lane – all of which seemingly went in.
“I think Cameron Schilling is one of, if not the best player in the league,” Whitworth coach Matt Logie said.
Andrew Earnest’s 3-pointer with 4:47 to go started a 12-2 Lutes run, which was capped by Schilling’s nifty 6-footer off a redirect move along the baseline. PLU (5-14, 3-7) led 66-62 at the 2:08 mark.
But George Valle came up with two huge defensive plays for the Pirates, blocking an Earnest 3-pointer in the corner, then on PLU’s next possession, ripping the ball from Schilling that keyed Whitworth’s 7-0 run that regained the lead.
“Bottom line with us, and I told the guys we are fragile enough, we were up (four points), and we made a defensive mistake and an offensive mistake,” PLU coach Steve Dickerson said. “We can’t do that. We don’t have the firepower to do that.”
Schilling made a pair of free throws with six seconds to go to cut it to 69-68. The Lutes immediately fouled McConnell, who made both of his free throws as well.
Then came the Schilling prayer that both sides thought was going in.
“They’re as tough an out as we have in our league,” said Logie, a former star at Mercer Island High and grandson of legendary former Islanders coach Ed Pepple.
Whitman 89, at Puget Sound 62: Matt Mounier poured in 18 points, and the Missionaries ran out to a big lead after an 18-4 run late in the first half to cruise to a victory, handing the Loggers their sixth consecutive defeat.
After UPS (6-13, 1-9) trimmed it to 23-20, Whitman got back-to-back 3-pointers by Drew Raher and Jackson Clough to begin its scoring spurt. A.J. Maw led the Loggers with 13 points.
Whitworth 67, at PLU 54: The Lutes dropped their fourth in a row, going cold from the floor in the middle of the second half while the Pirates were building a 16-point lead.
Emily Travis led Whitworth with 20 points. Megan Abdo and Sarah Barnes led PLU (6-11, 3-7) with 10 points apiece.
Whitman 59, at UPS 40: An 8-0 run early in the second half gave the Missionaries the lead for good, and the Loggers lost their fifth game in a row at Memorial Fieldhouse.
After Sarah Stewart’s jumper gave UPS a 26-24 lead at the 17:41 mark of the second half, the Loggers went scoreless the next four minutes. They were 4-for-24 from the floor in the second half.
UPS shook up its lineup by giving Kelsey McKinnis her first career start at point guard. She led the Loggers (10-9, 3-7 NWC) with nine points.Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 todd.milles@ thenewstribune.com