FOREST GROVE – Pacific came back from an 11-point deficit to challenge Puget Sound late Friday night, but the Loggers' suffocating pressure defense kept the score in their favor as they downed the Boxers 67-61 in Northwest Conference men's basketball action at the Stoller Center.
In a game featuring two of the league's three undefeated teams, the Boxers (4-1, 1-1 NWC) found themselves down 33-22 at halftime as the No. 22 Loggers limited the home team to 33 percent shooting and just 11 rebounds. Pacific came out stronger in the second half, shooting 48 percent in the final 20 minutes and came within one, 53-52, on Colin Wester's (Jr., Sherwood, Ore.) free throw with 3:16 left.
After a 5-0 run put the Loggers back up six with 2:06 to go, the Boxers came back to within two points on Charles Mosley's (Jr., Hillsboro, Ore.) rebound and tip-in with 13 seconds left. Julian Hernandez iced the game for Puget Sound with four made free throws in the final seconds. The loss snapped a four-game win streak for the Boxers to start the 2011-12 season.
Wester led all scorers with 21 points as Pacific shot 40.9 percent for the game (18-44) and 21 of 25 from the free throw line. Dustin Bowser (Jr., Bellingham, Wash.) added 11 points and a team-high six rebounds. David Berney (Jr., Eugene, Ore.) and Marc Eppinger (Fr., Camas, Ore.) each scored 10 points.
Kaleb Shelton-Johnson led Puget Sound (6-0, 1-0 NWC) with 17 points. Anthony Gittens added 16 points and a game-high nine rebounds while Fernandez scored 10 points, five of which came from the free throw line. The Loggers finished the game shooting 42.9 percent from the field (24-56) and 17 of 23 from the free throw line and outrebounded the Boxers 34-29.
While Puget Sound never trailed in the contest, the game played out quite close over the first 10 minutes. The Loggers led 7-5 at the 17:54 mark before both teams went on a five-minute scoreless drought. Wester closed the game to 9-8 on with his second three-pointer of the game at the 12:56 mark, but the Loggers scored six of the next eight points and built a 16-10 lead on a pair of Shelton-Johnson charity shots.
Puget Sound controlled the rest of the period. Fernandez made it a 30-18 lead with his lay-in with 3:29 to go and went into halftime with the 33-22 lead. The Loggers controlled the board 22-11 in the first half and scored 16 second-chance points.
The Loggers opened the second half with their biggest lead of the game, 40-26, on a lay-up by Shelton-Johnson. Berney responded with two free throws at the 16:17 mark to start an 11-1 Pacific run. Eppinger canned two charity shots with 10:36 to go to bring the Boxers within three at 41-38. Bowser then brought Pacific within one, 46-45, with a dunk at the 8:20 mark that electrified the Stoller Center crowd.
Pacific was able to stay close over the next five minutes and were within one on Wester's free throw with 3:16 to go. Missed shots on the next two possessions, however, forced the Boxers to foul to stay alive. Puget Sound went 9 of 10 from the line in that stretch to ice the win.
Pacific will complete a six-game home stand on Tuesday when they host Northwest (Wash.) at 7 p.m. Puget Sound returns to action tomorrow night, traveling to Willamette.
Puget Sound Pressures Pacific Out Of Four-Game Win Streak
|Puget Sound (6-0, 1-0 NWC)||33||34||67|
|Pacific (4-1, 1-1 NWC)||22||39||61|