The Linfield men’s basketball team, without its leading scorer and all-conference player, entered Saturday’s game at the University of Puget Sound having lost eight games in a row and 13 of the prior 14.
All signs indicated the Loggers would cruise to a fourth straight victory as they entered the final weekend of their season hunting for the Northwest Conference’s final postseason slot.
That was before the opening tip. After that, things quickly changed.
The Loggers’ shooting woes cost them a 77-66 loss against Linfield, one night after having one of their best games of the season.
UPS (9-14 overall, 4-10 NWC) made 33 percent of their shots, 17 percent from the 3-point line and missed 14 free throws. The loss ended its hopes of playing beyond the final two home games of the regular season.
“Just very disappointing,” UPS coach Justin Lunt said. “Very disappointing.”
The Loggers scored 93 points in their win against Lewis and Clark on Friday night. They lacked the same sharpness against a struggling Linfield team Saturday, even with the Wildcats’ Andrew Batiuk – who leads the NWC in scoring (18.6) and is second in rebounds (8.3) – sitting out for the fifth straight game because of an injury.
“We played with zero energy to start off, which was obvious,” Lunt said. “I don’t know if that was from how hard we played (Friday) night or what. We did a nice job of shooting the basketball and getting good looks (Friday) and I don’t think we did that tonight.”
Linfield took its largest lead of the game at 69-52 with about 21/2 minutes remaining. But that’s when the Loggers started playing with the urgency Lunt expected.
Rex Holmes made a 3-pointer and connected on 1-and-1 free throws on consecutive possessions to start a 10-0 UPS run to cut the deficit to seven points with 1:09 to play. The run was also fueled by three consecutive Linfield turnovers, with each leading to UPS points.
Freshman Erin Barber was a big offensive catalyst for the Loggers in the second half. The Puyallup High grad hadn’t scored in double figures in his time at UPS, but finished with a team-high 17 points – 14 in the second half.
“But the deficit was too much with the Wildcats making 19 of 21 free throws for their fourth win of the season and first since a 70-65 victory over the Loggers on Jan. 11.
“I thought we fought back really well,” Barber said. “But this hurts. Especially after we played so well the past three games. We just came out flat.”
Tim Logan led Linfield with 17 points and Nick Cantonwine added 14.
Nick Holden added 13 points and eight rebounds off the bench for the Loggers.
At Pacific 68, Pacific Lutheran 62 (OT): The Bruins scored on four of their first five possessions in overtime, and defeated the Lutes, who led most of the way in Forest Grove, Ore.
Pacific (14-9, 8-6) also got two steals and blocked a PLU shot in the extra session.
PLU (7-16, 5-9) had a 57-55 lead late in regulation, but Colin Wester – who led all scorers with 22 points – made a 14-footer with four seconds to go to tie it. Cameron Schilling’s long jump shot bounced off the rim at the buzzer, and the game went to OT.
UPS 79, Linfield 57: Amanda Forshay scored a season-high 21 points as the Loggers used a big second-half surge to rebound from a two-point loss against Lewis and Clark the night before.
Forshay recorded 15 of her 21 in a second half that saw UPS (13-10; 6-8) outscore Linfield by 18 points. She was one of four Loggers to score in double figures. Emily Sheldon tied a season-high of 15 points, Sarah Steward added 13, and Kelsey McKinnis had 10.
UPS finishes its season with home games against Pacific (Ore.) and George Fox next weekend.
At Pacific 87, PLU 43: The Boxers scored 12 consecutive points early in the game, and never looked back, handing the Lutes (6-15, 3-11) their worst defeat of the season in Forest Grove, Ore.
Samantha Potter was the only PLU player in double figures with 19 points. It was the Lutes’ eighth loss by 20 or more points this season.