WALLA WALLA - Whitman rallied from an eight-point deficit in the final 5:48 of the game Friday night to defeat Pacific Lutheran, 73-68, in a Northwest Conference men's basketball game played in Sherwood Center.
The Missionaries, who improved to 15-5 overall and 8-3 in the conference, won the game at the free throw line where they out-scored the visiting Lutes by 19 points. Neither team shot the ball particularly well, Whitman finishing 21-for-35 compared to just 2-for-12 for the Lutes. PLU was whistled for 24 fouls compared to 14 for the hosts.
With the loss, PLU dropped to 10-10 overall and 7-4 in the NWC, one game behind Whitman for second place in the conference standings.
The largest lead for both teams was eight points, Whitman earning that twice in the first half before Pacific Lutheran rallied to take a 41-39 halftime edge. There were four ties and 10 lead changes in the opening 20 minutes of action.
PLU took its largest lead, 63-55, on Cameron Schilling's three-point bucket with 5:48 left on the clock. Whitman responded by scoring 18 of the game's final 23 points to pull out the victory.
David Michaels, the reigning NWC Player of the Week and this game's leading scorer with 30 points, hit four consecutive free throws to get the rally started, Ignas Pavilonis and Drew Raher added three-point baskets, and Josh Duckworth hit a layup to put the Missionaries on top, 67-66, with 1:52 left. They tacked five more points onto the lead, including a three-point play by Michaels, before Kai Hoyt's layup made it 72-68 with 21 seconds to play.
That basket was too little and too late for the Lutes, who seek to stay solidly in the hunt for a NWC postseason tournament berth when they face conference-leading Whitworth at 6 p.m. on Saturday.
Cameron Reister came off the bench to shoot 7-for-9 from the field, including 3-for-4 from beyond the arc, to lead the Lutes with 17 points. James Conti added 15 points, seven assists and three steals, while Schilling had 13 points and Hoyt 10. Schilling and Hoyt tied for team-high rebounding honors with eight apiece.
The Lutes had a solid night from the floor, shooting exactly 50 percent overall (28-for-56) and from three-point land (10-for-20).
Michaels knocked down five three-point shots and was 9-for-13 from the charity stripe on his way to 30 points for Whitman. Pavilonis scored 13 points, 12 on three-pointers, and Raher added 10 points, nine from beyond the arc. Whitman shot 20-for-53 overall, 38 percent, but was 12-for-29 from long range, 41 percent.
The much-bigger Missionaries won the rebounding battle, 43-35, led by Michaels with nine.
The Lutes came into the game ranked 11th in the country with only 11.1 turnovers per game, and they stayed at that number with 11 giveaways compared to 12 for Whitman.
- PLU -