In a big hole? Pacific Lutheran University men’s basketball coach Steve Dickerson concedes the Lutes did more digging than climbing in the first half of the Northwest Conference season.
Down and out? Hardly.
The Lutes closed the gap between themselves and the teams jockeying for the final conference playoff spot with a 65-59 victory Friday over Lewis & Clark in Portland.
Now winners of three games in a row, the Lutes (7-11, 4-5 NWC) are one game out of fourth place. The top four teams advance to the conference postseason tournament later this month.
“We are approaching this (as if) every game we play is a playoff game,” Dickerson said. “We dug ourselves a hole, and to get out of it we need to play well the rest of the way.”
After Bradley Carter’s lay-in for the Pioneers cut the PLU lead to 43-41 midway through the second half, the Lutes responded with a 14-6 run over the next 51/2 minutes — capped by Bryce Miller’s short basket with 4:46 remaining.
Down the stretch, PLU held Lewis & Clark (12-6, 5-4) scoreless for 2:32 to put away the victory.
“It is a tough place to play,” Dickerson said. “Our kids just played really good defense ... and made plays when we had to.”
Puget Sound 76, at Linfield 69: It was just one of those short stretches in which everything James Osorio fired up from beyond the 3-point arc went in.
Osorio sank three quick 3-pointers in a 21/2-minute span that broke open a tight game late in the first half, and UPS (10-8, 6-3 NWC) beat Linfield (3-16, 1-9) and moved into third place alone.
Osorio’s final 3-pointer of the half gave the Loggers a commanding 39-26 lead with 2:52 to go. He finished with a team-high 21 points.
“I knew he could shoot,” UPS coach Justin Lunt said. “He played really well.
Puget Sound 71, at Linfield 54: Back-to-back 3-pointers by Taylor Jones and Amanda Forshay fueled a key 8-0 run early in the second half, and the Loggers (12-6, 5-4) stayed in Northwest Conference playoff contention by beating the Wildcats (6-13, 2-8).
Emily Sheldon’s jumper capped the run to give the Loggers a 48-34 lead with 14:09 to go.
UPS and Lewis & Clark are tied for the league’s fourth and final spot in the conference tournament.
At Lewis & Clark 69, PLU 55: Katie Anderson scored 15 points for the Pioneers (10-8, 5-4), who jumped to a big lead in the first half and cruised to the win.
Anderson scored eight points, including a 3-pointer, in a two-minute span as the Pioneers took a 17-7 lead at the 12:01 mark.
Sarah Anderson hit a pair of 3-pointers in the final six minutes of the half as Lewis & Clark grabbed a 35-23 halftime lead.
Samantha Potter and Katelyn Smith led PLU (7-11, 3-6) with 12 points apiece.