Sputter and surge.
That seems to be the travel mode for the Northwest Conference men’s basketball playoff contenders behind Whitman and Whitworth this season.
Which means there are five teams still fighting for the final two spots to the conference tournament.
And one of them — again — is the University of Puget Sound.
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The Loggers completed a weekend road sweep by downing Willamette, 70-62, on Saturday night at Cone Field House in Salem, Oregon.
Jimmy Wohrer led UPS (12-9, 5-7 in NWC) with 23 points. Carlos Mancasola chipped in with 16 points, 14 coming in the second half.
The Loggers trail Linfield and Pacific Lutheran by one game for the final playoff berth with four games remaining.
“It was big,” UPS coach Justin Lunt said. “Our guys were devastated after last weekend (losing two road games). We had a great meeting this week, and our leadership stepped up and said, ‘We’ve got to keep fighting.’
“This was the best composure our team has shown in two games on the road this season, and it was very nice to see.”
A 9-0 UPS run, capped by a Mancasola layup, erased a 48-46 deficit with eight minutes remaining.
At George Fox 101, PLU 70: The dam broke on the Lutes’ revamped defensive style as the Bruins blew out PLU in Newberg, Oregon.
GFU made 12 of its first 16 shots to grab a 34-19 lead midway through the first half. The Bruins finished shooting 57.8 percent from the floor.
It is a stark contrast to what the Lutes (11-10, 6-6) were giving up during their four-game winning streak, which was snapped. The best shooting half an opponent had was Willamette on Friday night — 43.3 percent.
The last time the Lutes gave up 100 or more points in a regulation game was 2010 — a 101-77 loss at Linfield.
No. 7 UPS 76, at Willamette 64: Sometimes, you just have to show you can beat somebody at its own game — and the Loggers did that coming back from a third-quarter deficit to rattle the Bearcats in Salem.
With 5 1/2 minutes remaining in the third quarter, Willamette held a 49-44 lead — mainly on the strength of 12 made 3-pointers.
After back-to-back buckets by UPS post player Jamie Lange, Samone Jackson flipped in a 3-pointer for the Loggers to give them a 51-49 advantage.
Forty seconds later, Jackson nailed another 3-pointer.
And 30 seconds after that, Caitlin Malvar sank a final 3-pointer to cap the team’s 13-0 run.
Jackson led the Loggers (20-1, 12-0 in NWC) with 25 points. Lange added 21 points off the bench. Malvar had 19. The trio combined for 65 of the team’s 76 points.
At George Fox 78, PLU 51: For all the troubles the Lutes have had, they have matched up pretty well against the defending conference champions – and did again Saturday in Newberg.
PLU trailed 36-35 with seven minutes to go in the third quarter after Mackenzie Cooper sank a jump shot.
GFU closed the quarter on a 14-5 run, however, and ran away with a victory.
Lacey Nicholson and Kristin Sturdivan led the Lutes (1-19, 0-12) with 12 points apiece.