Thrilling Game Goes to 11th-Ranked Whitworth in 2 OTs
PARKLAND - After Pacific Lutheran seemingly came back from the dead twice to send the game into two overtimes on Friday night, Whitworth finally outscored the Lutes 11-2 in the second extra period to take an exhausting 103-94 Northwest Conference men's basketball win over the Lutes in Olson Auditorium.
By the time the game ended after 50 exhausting minutes, both teams, coaching staffs, the three officials and the estimated 650 fans in attendance were physically, emotionally and mentally drained.
Whitworth, ranked No. 11 in the D3hoops.com national poll, improved to 10-2 overall and 3-0 in the conference, while the Lutes fell to 5-7 overall and 2-1 in the conference.
PLU senior point guard James Conti made huge plays to send the game into not one, but two overtimes. With time ticking down in regulation and his team trailing 85-82, he launched a 35-foot shot that hit nothing but net as the buzzer sounded. In the first overtime, he swished a pair of free throws with one second left to tie the score at 92-92.
In the second extra period, however, the visiting Pirates scuttled the Lutes' hopes, scoring the game's last nine points while holding PLU scoreless over the final 4:25. Felix Friedt, a 6-foot 8-inch senior center, drained a three-point shot with the shot clock winding down to give his team a 99-94 lead with 52 seconds left. Friedt and Colton McCargar both made a pair of free throws in the closing seconds to wrap it up for Whitworth.
The first half provided plenty of offensive highlights from both teams.
Whitworth shot an incredible 72 percent on 18-for-25 shooting from the field in the opening period. Idris Lasisi, a senior transfer from Belgium by way of North Idaho College, showed his explosive ability to get to the rim on the way to 11 points, while 6-foot 8-inch senior post Michael Taylor worked inside for 11 points on 5-for-6 shooting. The Pirates also found the range from three-point range with 5-for-8 accuracy.
The Lutes, meanwhile, were not intimidated by the much larger Pirates, shooting 53 percent overall and 55 percent from three-point range, including 3-for-6 by Cameron Reister.
The Pirates scored 12 unanswered points, with five different players scoring during the run, to grab a 22-11 advantage with 11:17 left in the first half. After PLU narrowed the lead to 29-26 on Drew Earnest's three-ball at the 7:15 mark, Whitworth went on a 12-3 spurt to take its largest lead of the opening period, 41-29.
The Lutes climbed back into the game with a hail of three-point shots in the final four minutes. Reister knocked down a pair of threes to go along with a layup, and James Conti added another trey, in addition to a tip in, as the Lutes got to within 44-39 at the intermission.
Whitworth never trailed in the second half, and in fact there was only one tie in the period, that coming on Conti's game-tying bomb at the buzzer. Before that, Whitworth built a 67-54 lead with 8:43 remaining in regulation. PLU came back when Reister sandwiched a pair of threes around a steal and layup by Kai Hoyt. Reister added a jumper and Hoyt a free throw to make it a 69-65 game with 6:22 remaining.
Whitworth rebuilt its 13-point lead at 78-65 with 2:44 left, but Cameron Schilling hit a pair of long-range threes to get the Lutes back in it at 78-71. Andrew Earnest drained a three from the corner with 17 seconds left to get the Lutes to within 81-79, leading up to Conti's tying three-point shot.
Conti led five Pacific Lutheran players in double figures with a game-high 25 points, and he added seven assists and three steals in 44 minutes. Reister was 5-for-11 from beyond the arc on the way to 22 points, followed by Schilling with 18, Hoyt with 15 and Earnest with 12. The Lutes shot 51 percent (34-for-67) from the field and 52 percent (13-for-25) from three-point land.
Hoyt led the team with eight rebounds, though the much taller Pirates finished with a 38-28 edge on the boards, led by Friedt with 10.
For Whitworth, Lasisi had 20 points, followed by Wade Gebbers and Taylor with 19 each, Friedt with 17, Dustin McConnell with 13 and McCargar with 10. The Pirates shot an outstanding 62 percent (36-for-58) from the field, 46 percent (11-for-24) from three-point range, and 80 percent (20-for-25) from the foul line.
Both teams are back in conference action at 6 p.m. tomorrow, the Lutes hosting Whitman and the Pirates playing at Puget Sound.
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