Cameron Schilling and Andrew Earnest aren’t used to watching the opening tip from the bench.
Both seniors had started all 20 games coming into Pacific Lutheran University’s Northwest Conference matchup against visiting Linfield. But Lutes coach Steve Dickerson was frustrated with his team’s lack of effort in its 16-point loss against the University of Puget Sound on Wednesday, and benched his two stars to send a message.
“He was really trying to get across to us that it doesn’t matter who you are in the program, or what you have done, you have to bring it every game or you could lose your spot,” Schilling said.
“But that’s fine. We have other guys who can step up.”
The Lutes (6-15, 4-8 Northwest Conference) used every player on their roster and had four players score in double-digits in a 62-54 victory over the Wildcats, a game PLU never trailed.
Earnest led the Lutes with 16 points, Arvid Isaksen scored 14, Terrell Williams had 12 and Schilling added 10 points and 8 rebounds.
“I was just thinking ‘Wow, I can’t remember the last time it was like this,’” Earnest said of having to watch the opening tip from the bench.
But despite their top two scorers sitting out the first five minutes of the game, the Lutes possessed the lead throughout the first half and went into halftime with a six point lead.
The Lutes extended their lead to 12 in the first three minutes of the second half as PLU looked like it would continue to pull away and cruise to a home victory.
But Linfield soared back and used a 14-2 run to tie the game at 44-all with nine minutes left. The Lutes went seven minutes without making a field goal (0-for-14) during the stretch.
“You know, sometimes you just go through stretches like that,” Schilling said. “Maybe not that drastic, but you can’t let it get to you. You just have to keep focused.”
Though PLU made only 1 of 19 shots during Linfield’s comeback, it never fell behind. The Lutes forced turnovers on two consecutive possessions and went on a 10-0 run in the final three minutes thanks to big baskets by Williams and Isaksen.
“We missed a lot of good shots,” Dickerson said. “But the thing this game proved is that when the game is on the line and we are facing adverse times, we can get some stops and find a way to win. We hadn’t been able to do that much this year.”
Linfield (3-17, 2-9) was without its leading scorer and rebounder Andrew Batiuk, who missed the game with an undisclosed injury, sports information director Kelly Bird said. Batiuk leads the NWC in points per game and is second in rebounds.
Linfield 62, at Pacific Lutheran 49: The Lutes (6-13, 3-9) saw another big game from Samantha Potter, but the team still fell short of the Wildcats (2-14, 1-9) for their sixth consecutive loss.
Potter led PLU with 22 points and nine rebounds. But Linfield held the Lutes to 23 percent shooting in the first half and took a 33-17 lead into the break.
It was Potter’s fifth game with at least 20 points, yet all have ended in losses.
Kaely Maltman paced the Wildcats with 18 points and 11 rebounds.