Almost as great as coach Justin Lunt’s desire to win basketball games at the University of Puget Sound is his in-game water intake.
At the scorer’s table near the home bench, four jumbo-sized Dixie cups are constantly filled to the brim at all times. When Lunt gets angry or anxious at what he is seeing, he goes right to the water and gulps it down.
But on a smooth-sailing Friday night, Lunt didn’t need to reach for the water. His Loggers were in full control.
For a sixth consecutive game, UPS held an opponent under 40-percent shooting. The Loggers bolted out to a big lead and overwhelmed Willamette, 64-45, at Memorial Fieldhouse in Tacoma.
The Loggers (8-7, 4-2 Northwest Conference) got 17 points from Rex Nelson. Erin Barber added 14 — all coming in an efficient first half.
And the 45 points allowed are the fewest a Lunt-coached team has ever given up at UPS. The previous low was 48 by Linfield during the 2007-08 season.
“We are a real physical team and get after it defensively,” said Barber, a Puyallup High product. “The way we focus in practice is the way we come out in games — defense first, offense second.”
Late last spring, Lunt decided to install the pack-line defense, which is designed to control penetration into the lane and force teams to take high-risk perimeter shots.
Because of its nuances, it is a defense that usually takes years to run efficiently. The Loggers are off to a good start with it — they rank 25th in NCAA Division III in defensive field goal percentage (39.2).
“Yeah I am a little bit surprised (how fast) we’ve been picking it up,” Lunt said. “Every game we have our team concepts, but we are now guarding personnel in different ways. Guys are going to have (to) make adjustments on the fly, and they are doing a good job of it.”
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Dan Cheledinas seven minutes into the game gave UPS a 16-9 lead.
Later on, Barber got hot in the final seven minutes of the first half. He scored 11 of the team’s final 16 points, including three 3-pointers.
It got worse for the Bearcats (3-11, 1-4) in the second half, as they made just 5 of 14 field goals.
“Ever since our (summer) trip to Cabo (San Lucas, Mexico), all we’ve emphasized with all the returners, if we want to be good, we have to buy into the defensive side,” Lunt said. “We’ve been holding teams and having some success.”
At UPS 80, Willamette 52: Four Loggers scored in double figures, led by 16 points apiece from Amanda Forshay and Allie Wyszynksi, and UPS (10-5, 3-3 NWC) cruised to an easy win at Memorial Fieldhouse.
The Loggers shot a season-best 55.7 percent from the floor (34 of 61).email@example.com