Maybe Carlos Mancasola is on to something.
When the University of Puget Sound men’s basketball team endures a brief outside-shooting spell, once a 3-pointer is made to snap it — Mancasola grunts loudly and gets animated.
Face it, this is who the Loggers are — a trigger-happy bunch of 3-point shooters. If they are going to make a run to the Northwest Conference postseason tournament, much of their fate will hinge on how well they shoot it from beyond 20 feet.
Mancasola was sizzling hot Tuesday night, sinking five of the team’s 12 3-pointers, and UPS handled cross-town rival Pacific Lutheran, 73-58, at Memorial Fieldhouse.
The Loggers (10-8, 5-4) split the season series with PLU, and moved into third place alone in the NWC standings. The Lutes (11-7, 4-5) hold a half-game lead over four other teams for the final playoff spot.
Before the season, UPS coach Justin Lunt said this would be one of his more dangerous outside-shooting squads. So far, it has lived up to the billing. It was the eighth time in 18 games that the Loggers have made at least 12 3-pointers.
“This is a team that can really, really shoot the ball,” Lunt said. “The 3-ball is one of our identities. We can stroke it.”
Five different UPS players contributed to seven first-half 3-pointers as the Loggers quickly built a 37-20 lead with five minutes remaining before halftime.
And then it all went dry. They missed their final eight shots, including five 3-point attempts. And PLU closed on a 14-0 run.
Needing a stabilizing force, UPS turned to post player Kyle King, who made two quick baskets to start the second half. Andre Lewis had a putback basket as well, and the Loggers went up, 47-37.
Then it was Mancasola’s turn to catch fire. He hit a deep straightaway 3-pointer, and screamed with gusto.
“To be honest, I don’t remember what I said,” the junior said with a smile. “I was especially hyped up because this is our rival, and they beat us the last time.”
Ninety seconds later, Mancasola buried another long 3-pointer.
“I am kind of the player who flows off momentum,” said Mancasola, who finished with a game-high 19 points. “If one or two (3-pointers) go down, the next one is probably going to go in.”
He had an opportunity for another wide-open look the next UPS trip, but instead dished it to Matt Reid in the right corner, who sank another 3-pointer to give the Loggers a 57-40 lead with 11:39 to go.
“They shot the ball well, but what disturbed me is that they played harder than we did,” PLU coach Steve Dickerson said. “That is a compliment to them. They played well.”