Pacific Lutheran Hits Free Throws to Edge Out Willamette, 90-87

Pacific Lutheran Hits Free Throws to Edge Out Willamette, 90-87

Mounts Scores 22 Points, while Meehan and Malley Add 20 for WU

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

TACOMA, WASH. -- Pacific Lutheran University hit 24 of 30 free throws, including 18 of 23 in the second half, as the Lutes rallied from a 45-41 halftime deficit to edge out Willamette University, 90-87, on Friday, Feb. 18 at Olson Auditorium. The Lutes made 7 of 8 free throws in the final two minutes to hold off the Bearcats.

Kyle MacTaggart of PLU led all players with 23 points. He made 7 of 11 field goals and 9 of 11 free throws. He put in two free throws with 21 seconds left to give the Lutes an 89-83 lead. After WU cut the margin to 89-87 on two quick layups, MacTaggart sank 1 of 2 charity shots with nine seconds left.

Willamette still had time to set up a play for Taylor Mounts (Jr., Wing/Post, Kailua, HI/Iolani School) to shoot a 3-pointer. Mounts had trouble handling a pass and was forced to recover the ball near midcourt. By the time he had control, his only option was a desperation shot which went well off the mark.

Three Willamette players scored at least 20 points on the night. Mounts topped the Bearcats with 22 points. Ryan Meehan (Jr., Wing, Beaverton, OR/Beaverton HS/MSU-Billings) and Terrell Malley (So., G, Portland, OR/Roosevelt HS) added 20 points each. Meehan was 4 for 8 on 3-pointers, while Malley connected on 3 of 4 trifectas.

Sean Dart (So., Post, Bend, OR/Mountain View HS/Eastern Oregon Univ.) supplied the Bearcats with 11 points, four boards and three steals. It was his first double-digit scoring effort in his third appearance since returning from a foot injury. Dart supplied double-digit scoring in 12 of WU's first 16 games before missing five games due to the injury.

Against the Lutes, Willamette also received a strong game from Robbie Kunke (Sr., G, Clackamas, OR/Clackamas HS) who provided nine assists, four steals and three rebounds. He also scored six points on 3 of 3 field goal shooting.

MacTaggart was joined in double figures for Pacific Lutheran by James Conti, Andrew Earnest and Cameron Schilling. Conti tallied 14 points, Earnest chipped in 13 and Schilling finished with 12. Schilling also led all players with 12 rebounds, helping PLU attain a 38-27 edge on the glass.

In the first half, WU took an 11-6 lead on a 3-pointer by Meehan at the 16:51 mark. The Bearcats led 19-15 after a jumper and a foul shot by MacTaggart with 14:15 on the clock, but used a 9-2 run to extend the margin. Meehan completed the run with a 3-pointer for a 28-17 lead with 13:01 left in the half.

After Tony Polis added a basket for PLU, the Bearcats countered with a jumper by Mounts and a layup by Malley for a 13-point advantage, 32-19, with 11:11 remaining before halftime.

The Lutes answered with a 20-9 spurt that reduced the lead to 41-39 at the 3:52 mark. Willamette tallied four of the final six points in the half.

PLU shot 58.6% from the field (17 of 29) in the first half, compared to 48.6% (17 of 35) for the Bearcats, but WU sank 7 of 13 three-pointers (53.8%) in the first 20 minutes, while the Lutes went 1 for 6 (16.7%). Malley topped all scorers a halftime with 14 points.

The Lutes scored the first four points of the second period to tie the score, but WU responded with a 9-2 run, giving the Bearcats a 54-47 edge with 16:34 left. Pacific Lutheran bounded into the lead with a 15-0 run over the next 5:18, while WU missed five field goals and three free throws.

Willamette trailed 62-54 after Tony Polis completed PLU's run with a 3-pointer at the 11:16 mark. WU battled back and pulled within 66-64 on a jumper by Malley with 8:57 to go, but PLU gradually built the lead to 78-68 with 4:23 left.

The Bearcats rallied with a 9-3 run that reduced the margin to 81-74 with 2:25 remaining.

PLU added a layup at the 2:11 mark and Conti tacked on two free throws with 1:52 left, as the lead surged out to eight points at 85-77.

The next six points went to the Bearcats. Dart hit 1 of 2 free throws and Mounts put in a 3-pointer to cut the lead to four points. Mounts reduced the margin to 85-83 on a layup with 44 seconds remaining.

Earnest sank two free throws with 0:31 on the clock and MacTaggart chipped in a pair with 0:21 to go. WU responded by scoring on a layup by Malley with 14 seconds left, forcing a turnover and adding a layup by Mounts at the 11-second mark. MacTaggart's insurance free throw followed two seconds later for PLU.

For the game, Willamette tallied three more baskets than the Lutes (35 to 32). The Bearcats also gained an edge on 3-pointers, hitting 9 of 19 (47.4%) compared to 2 of 10 for PLU.

The Lutes gained a big edge at the line. While PLU was connecting on 24 of 30 free throws, Willamette was converting only 8 of 17 (47.1%). The Bearcats nailed 4 of 6 in the first half, but went 4 for 11 in the second half.

WU will play its final game of the season at Cone Field House on Saturday, Feb. 19 against Lewis & Clark College. Game time is scheduled for 8 p.m. (PST). The Bearcats will honor the team's seniors prior to the game.

Pacific Lutheran University 90
Willamette University 87

Ryan Meehan scored 20 points, hit four 3-pointers, grabbed five boards and had two steals.