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PARKLAND, Wash. – Closing on an 11-3 run, Pacific Lutheran overcame a cold-shooting second half and a string of spirited Linfield rallies to top the Wildcats 62-54 Friday evening at the Names Family Court inside Olson Auditorium.
Four different players scored in double figures for the Lutes, who won their seventh straight contest against the ‘Cats. With the loss, Linfield slipped to 3-17 overall and 2-9 against Northwest Conference opponents.
Pacific Lutheran (6-15, 4-8 NWC) never trailed in the opening half, scoring 37 seconds into the game on an Arvid Isaksen jumper and claiming an eight-point lead, 28-20, by the 5:39 mark of the period. Drew Earnest provided much of the scoring early on, surpassing the 1,000-point career plateau with his second 3-point bucket of the game.
Linfield hung around, though each time the ‘Cats got to within two or three points, the Lutes pulled away again. Down 33-26 with 2:54 to go, Linfield tallied the next four points on a Tim Pang layup and a pair of Nick Cantonwine free throws.
Cameron Reister ended the rally and snapped a 1½-minute scoring spell with a contested trey, the last field goal of the half, to put the home team up six points.
With the Lutes holding a 36-30 advantage at the break, the stat line read about even for the two clubs with one major exception: while the Lutes hit six 3-pointers, the Wildcats missed all five of their tries from beyond the arc.
Otherwise, PLU (52.2 percent) and Linfield (50 percent) shot the ball well, and the teams combined for just 10 turnovers. Earnest led all players with 11 points through 20 minutes of action; teammates Isaksen, Cameron Schilling and Terrell Williams each had six. Eight different players scored for the Wildcats, including Brandon Harris, who totaled eight points.
Two layups within 80 seconds of the second-half whistle gave the Lutes a 10-point lead. As the ‘Cats struggled to keep Pacific Lutheran off the offensive glass, the spread jumped to 12-points, 42-30, at the 17:24 mark of the second half.
Sparked by a Cody Jurgens 3-pointer – Linfield’s first field goal of the period and first trey of the game – the ‘Cats staged their biggest comeback yet. The visitors outscored the Lutes 14-2 over the next 8½ minutes, knotting the score at 44-all on a Chris Crowell jumper. PLU missed 13 consecutive shots during that stretch before Isaksen ended the slump with a layup.
A baseline jumper from Kevin Hurley tied things up again, but Earnest responded with another 3-pointer and Williams followed with a layup to push the lead back to five points. The Wildcats knotted the game once more, at 51-51, but watched as the Lutes scored the next nine points to put the game away. Schilling capped off the night by knocking in pair of free throws with 34 seconds remaining.
Earnest finished with a game-high 16 points. Isaksen tallied 14, Williams added 12 and Schilling contributed 10. Isakesen and Schilling shared game-high honors for rebounds with eight each. Schilling also dished out six assists.
Harris was the only double-digit scorer for the Wildcats, totaling 10 points to go along with a team-high six assists. Dakotah Pine scored a season-high eight points on 3-for-3 shooting from the floor. Of the 13 Linfield players who got into the game, 11 scored. Dirks recorded six points and five rebounds in his first career start.
NEXT: Linfield takes on Yamhill Country rival George Fox Saturday evening in Newberg. Tipoff inside the Wheeler Sports Center is set for 8 p.m.