Justin Lunt vows to dispel the rumor.
His University of Puget Sound men’s basketball squad isn’t just a bunch of hot-and-cold 3-point shooters.
When their focus is sharp, and their energy is right, the Loggers are starting to show they can guard just about anybody in the Northwest Conference.
UPS opened conference play with a decisive 80-63 victory over Linfield College on Friday night at Memorial Fieldhouse in Tacoma.
With the defense keeping the Wildcats off balance in the first half, the UPS offense rolled after intermission. Nine of the team’s season-high 15 3-pointers came in the second half.
Jimmy Wohrer made all six of his 3-pointers in the second half. His 18 points shared game-high scoring honors with teammate Carlos Mancasola.
Timmy Saunders added 14 points, and Kyle King chipped in with 12 off the bench as the Loggers (5-1, 1-0 NWC) shot 51.9 percent from the floor (28 of 54).
“(The defense) was really big, because it’s been an emphasis since the start of the year,” Mancasola said. “We want to come out very strong and establish the defensive side of the ball early on, and let our offense carry us in the second half.”
Linfield (3-2, 0-1) came out with an extended 2-3 zone that threw the Loggers off early.
But on defense, the Loggers were as crisp as they have been all season. Their rotations kept the Wildcats’ ball-handlers out of the lane and forced them to take tough shots.
“There were some really nice points with our defense in the first half,” Lunt said. “Everything was really on point.”
“It’s just a mixture of energy and communication,” Mancasola said. “We have a lot of guys who are interchangeable and can guard different positions.”
Linfield shot 36 percent in the first half, and committed 10 turnovers.
And then came the hot-shooting explosion in the final 1:22 of the first half.
Saunders knocked down a pair of 3-pointers from the corner, and Mancasola buried a final one with four seconds remaining to give the Loggers a 39-26 lead.
Wohrer sank all six of his 3-pointers in the first 10:17 of the second half to enable UPS to pull away.
At Lewis & Clark 84, Pacific Lutheran 62: Markel Leonard poured in 23 points, including eight in a crucial five-minute stretch in the second half, and the Pioneers won in Portland.
After the Lutes trimmed their deficit to 52-48 with 15:16 to go, Leonard’s two 3-pointers highlighted the Pioneers’ 16-7 run.
His last 3-pointer, with 9:05 left, gave Lewis & Clark a 68-55 lead.
Brandon Lester had 23 points for the Lutes (4-3, 0-1 NWC). Sean McLaughlin added 14 off the bench.
At UPS 86, Linfield 69: The Loggers’ frontcourt continued to thrive — and the backcourt welcomed a new addition Friday.
Sophomore forward Elizabeth Prewitt scored a career-high 25 points, and UPS (5-0, 1-0) won its conference opener in Tacoma.
Prewitt and point guard Samone Jackson hit back-to-back 3-pointers in a 21-second span to give the Loggers a 22-9 lead with 2:11 left in the first quarter.
Touted freshman guard Caitlin Malvar (foot injury) made her season debut in the third quarter. On a five-minute limit, Malvar had an assist and missed a 3-pointer.
The Loggers will host eighth-ranked and defending NWC champion George Fox University at 4 p.m. Saturday.
At Lewis & Clark 93, PLU 47: The Pioneers shot 55.8 percent from the floor, and handled the Lutes at the Pamplin Center.
The Lewis & Clark bench outscored the Lutes, 52-8.
Samantha Kelleigh led PLU (0-5, 0-1) with 15 points, including three 3-pointers. Lacey Nicholson added 14.