Defensive Battle Goes to Nationally Ranked Northwest
KIRKLAND - In a Saturday night non-conference men's basketball game that featured plenty of defense, Tyler Mendezona made a jumper with four seconds remaining to help Northwest University stay unbeaten with a 48-46 victory over visiting Pacific Lutheran.
Northwest, ranked 11th in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Division II poll, improved its record to 11-0, while Pacific Lutheran fell to 4-3.
The Eagles came into Saturday's contest average 86.4 points per game while outscoring their first 10 opponents by an average of 26.3 per contest. The Lutes made them work for every point and had an opportunity to win the game at the buzzer, only to see Kai Hoyt miss on a three-point effort.
The pace and defensive intensity of the game became evident from the opening tip. The Eagles scored the first five points of the contest, but it took them 5 1/2 minutes to do that.
PLU didn't get on the scoreboard until 14:05 showed on the first half clock, and then only on a free throw by Arvid Isaksen, but it ran off 11 straight points to take an 11-5 lead with 9:13 remaining in the opening half. The Lutes got the last 10 points from the big men as Cameron Schilling scored six and Austen Wilson added four.
Pacific Lutheran led by as many as 10 points on three occasions in the first half, the final time at 24-14 on Cameron Reister's three-point field goal with 2:37 showing on the clock. PLU eventually took a 26-17 lead into the locker room.
The Lutes regained an 11-point lead at 30-19 on two Drew Earnest free throws 2 1/2 minutes into the final half, but after that the hosts started to work their way back into the game. They tied the contest at 39-39 on Rich Skillman's fastbreak layup at about the halfway mark of the final period.
Over the final 10 minutes, both defenses again made it difficult for the other team to score. After taking a lead on Nemanja Grujucic's tip in with nine minutes left, Northwest never again trailed, thought the Lutes tied it at 46-46 on Hoyt's layup with 3:40 left.
Both teams had chances to take the lead over the final minutes, but Northwest finally got the basket that counted from Mendezona with four seconds remaining.
James Conti led the Lutes with 10 points, and he also added three assists and three steals. PLU shot 33 percent (16-for-48) from the field.
Skillman led all players with 13 points for Northwest, which shot 37 percent (18-for-48) from the field.
- PLU -