Eppinger's Career Night Not Enough To Carry Boxrs Over Lutes
FOREST GROVE – A near perfect night by Marc Eppinger (Fr., Camas, Wash.) was not near enough to pull through an injury-riddled Pacific team Saturday night as the Boxers fell to a well-rested Pacific Lutheran squad 77-56 in Northwest Conference men's basketball action at the Stoller Center.
Eppinger put together the best night of his young career, leading the Boxers with 18 points on 5 of 8 from the field, 1 of 2 from three-point range and 7 of 9 from three-point range. Eppinger was perfect for the first 26 minutes of the contest, and did not miss until falling short on a baseline five-footer with 14 minutes to go in the second half.
The effort, though, was not enough to carry a Pacific team that finds itself with five injured players, including three that were regular starters to open the season. The Boxers played without Dustin Bowser (Jr., Bellingham, Wash.), who is out for the year with a broken hand, and Colin Wester (Jr., Sherwood, Ore.), who rolled in ankle in Friday's loss to Lewis & Clark.
Pacific shot well despite the limited personnel, connecting on 47.6 percent from the field (20-42) and 40 percent from three-point range (4-10). The Boxers (8-9, 2-6 NWC), though, could not keep up with the sheer volume of PLU's scoring output as the Lutes made 15 more shots. The guests connected on 55.6 percent of their shots from the field (35-63). The Lutes also owned a sizeable advantage on the boards, out-rebounding the Boxers 34-19.
Charles Mosley (Jr., Hillsboro, Ore.) added 10 points and eight rebounds in the losing effort. Cameron Shilling posted a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds for PLU, leading four in double figures. Andrew Earnest scored 17 points, James Conti added 12 and Kai Hoyt connected for 10.
Over the first 10 minutes, it looked as though the Boxers would be able to hold their own against the Lutes. Pacific trailed by as much as five points early before a three-pointer by Cameron Hayes (So., Milton, Wash.) and a short jumper from Robby Babek (Sr., Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.) gave the Boxers their first lead of 19-18 with 10:13 left.
It would also be their last lead as the Boxers went scoreless over the next seven minutes and the Lutes bolted out on a 15-0 run. Earnest scored all but six of PLU's points in the streak and Schilling's jumper with 3:58 left made it 32-18 lead with 3:58 left. Mosley finally ended the drought with his jumper with 3:27 left, but the Lutes outscored the Boxers 10-6 over the final three minutes to go into halftime with a 42-26 lead.
Pacific's frigid shooting continued into the second half as the Boxers went five minutes without making a shot from the field before Ernesto Mayz (So., Caracas, Venezuela) hit a three-pointer at the 15-minute mark. Eppinger's three-point play with 14:16 left brought the Boxers within 52-35, but the home team could come no closer the rest of the way. Earnest gave the Lutes their largest lead of the game at 62-38 with 9:27 left. From there, the Boxers went on a 10-2 run over the next four minutes with Coby Proctor (Fr., Sublimity, Ore.) bringing Pacific back within 16 with a pair of free throws with 4:05 left.
Pacific will open the second half of the NWC season with three straight road games. The Boxers travel to Linfield on Tuesday and Puget Sound on Saturday, with tipoff both nights scheduled for 8 p.m. Both games can be head online via a live webcast at www.goboxers.com/webcasts. Pacific Lutheran will finish the weekend with a rare Sunday game, staying in the valley to face George Fox. The games were postponed from Friday to due weather and travel concerns.
BOXER BYTES: All 10 available Pacific players scored in tonight's game…Pacific hosted a pair of alumni teams in an exhibition contest prior to tonight's women's game. The alumni team from the 2000s beat the 1990s era squad 87-85…A ceremony was held at halftime to honor Norm Hubert, a 1955 NAIA Second Team All-American for Pacific and the school's all-time leading scorer. Mr. Hubert passed way over the summer and today would have been his 78th birthday.