PARKLAND, Wash. – Linfield guards Ryan Cali (Sr., San Jose, Calif.) and Tanner Brill combined for 30 points and five assists but Pacific Lutheran pulled away early in the second half for a 62-53 Northwest Conference victory Friday night at Names Family Court.
Brandon Lester scored 16 points to lead a quartet of Lutes in double figures in the scoring column. Arvid Isaksen added a dozen points and six rebounds, and Terrell Williams and Daniel Landram both added 10 points.
In perhaps the game's most revealing statistic, PLU's starting five outscored their Linfield counterparts 49-32. And though both teams made an identical 20 field goals on the night, the Lutes enjoyed a clear advantage in trips to the free throw line. PLU converted 13-of-20 from the charity stripe. Linfield enjoyed just five free throw opportunities, sinking all five.
A 10-2 PLU burst three minutes into the second period stood out as greatest swing of momentum. Isaksen accounted for five points in that three-minute span as PLU built a 41-32 advantage. Linfield clawed back to within two points, 48-46, after a pair of free throws by Chris Dirks with 7:19 to go.
With the outcome still in doubt, PLU answered the charge in the waning moments.
Linfield was in position to make it a one-possession game. But Brill's twisting layup missed its mark, Dirks was short on a 3-pointer, and Lester canned a baseline 3-pointer at the other end, sending the Lutes back on top by seven, 56-49, with 1:42 left.
Linfield played one of its better shooting halves of the season to start the game. Five ties and three lead changes highlighted a see-saw first half. The Wildcats opened with a 5-0 lead after a 3-point bucket by Cali and a layin from Myren. Another three from Nick Cantonwine pushed the Linfield advantage to 10-3 at the 13:02 mark, but PLU stormed back to tie with baskets by Lester, Kai Hoyt and Seth Anderson. The Wildcats looked as though they would take a lead into the halftime locker room before a steal by Lester and Arvid Isaksen's nothing-but-net 3-pointer put the hosts in front 26-25 with 30 seconds to go. Linfield had three chances to retake the lead as time ticked down, but all three attempts hit the rim and bounced away.
Like the score, the teams were fairly even statistically in the first half, with Linfield shooting 41.7 percent from the field to PLU's 40.9. The Lutes held a narrow 26-25 edge in rebounds. Lester led all scorers at intermission with nine points while Cali was the Wildcats' top point producer over the opening 20 minutes with eight points on 3-of-4 shooting.
Williams finished with a game-high nine rebounds for the Lutes, who outboarded the ‘Cats 33-26. Cali, who sank 7-of-9 shots from the floor, snatched four rebounds and dished out three assists. Dirks, Brill, Ryan Potter (So., Molalla, Ore.) and Adam Myren all had two assists.
The loss, Linfield's 12th consecutive, dropped the Wildcats to 2-14 for the season, 0-7 in the NWC. PLU raised its record to 5-11, 2-5 in conference action.
‘CAT SCRATCH: PLU entered the game owning a 7-game win streak over Linfield dating to Jan 10, 2010 when the Wildcats prevailed 101-77…Friday's contest began a succession of three games for the Wildcats over the span of five days. . . Linfield did not attempt a single free throw in the first half.
COMING UP: Linfield returns to Ted Wilson Gym for a Saturday night matchup with the Pacific Boxers. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. live video webcast coverage starting at approximately 7:50.