The Pacific Lutheran University men’s basketball team is making it interesting coming down the stretch of the Northwest Conference season.
The Lutes swept weekend play at home, locking up George Fox’s perimeter offense Saturday and finishing off a 70-58 victory at Olson Auditorium.
PLU (7-14, 5-7 NWC) might be tied for sixth place, but it is only two games behind Lewis & Clark for third place with two weeks to go.
“Every game is a championship game,” PLU coach Steve Dickerson said. “And we are responding.”
The Lutes erased a small halftime deficit by sinking five second-half 3-pointers and holding the Bruins scoreless for the first 5 minutes, 36 seconds of the half.
And they are excited to get one of their key shooters — senior Kevin McCrossin — healthy and firing away. The Fife High School product hit 3-pointers on back-to-back PLU possessions from the same left corner spot to give the Lutes a 60-50 lead with 7:06 remaining.
McCrossin, a 6-foot-4 forward, had his fourth knee surgery in August, and is just now rounding into form.
“This is the most normal I have felt since the surgery,” McCrossin said. “It was a good weekend for me. I have a job and something to bring to this team, and that is shooting the long ball.”
Terrell Williams’ 12-foot jumper a minute later gave PLU its biggest lead — 64-50 — and the Lutes never looked back.
But the story was the PLU defense, particularly in the second half. The Bruins (5-16, 3-9) shot just 29 percent (9 for 31 field goals) after halftime.
“We’ve been good on defense,” Dickerson said. “It has been part of our resurgence.”
At Willamette 60, Puget Sound 58: For the second consecutive night, the Loggers had a chance to win it with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, but Matt Bender’s attempt missed, and the Bearcats swept the season series in Salem, Oregon.
Willamette did not score the last 2:53 of the game, but held off the Loggers (10-10, 5-7), who trailed by as many as 15 points with 12 minutes to go.
Erin Barber led UPS with 19 points, with Nick Holden chipping in 14.
No. 22 UPS 65, at Willamette 49: The Loggers (18-3, 9-3 in NWC) won their fourth consecutive road game, getting a team-high 18 points from Emily Sheldon in a win in Salem.
The Loggers erased a halftime deficit by going on a 10-2 run to start the second half, capped by Sheldon’s 3-pointer at the 15:51 mark.
No. 4 George Fox 85, at PLU 49: The Bruins racked up 46 points in the interior, led by Lauren Codling’s 19 points, and George Fox (21-0, 12-0) remained undefeated with a win in Parkland.
Lacey Nicholson, Kate Kramer and Michaela Edgers led the Lutes with 10 points apiece.