PARKLAND, Wash.—For the first time in four games, the Puget Sound men's basketball team did not come down to the final possession to decide a game. A strong second half by the Loggers Saturday afternoon gave them a 23-point victory over Saint Mary's (Minn.) in their final game of the PLU Thanksgiving Classic held at Names Family Court in Parkland, Wash.
The Loggers fell behind 5-0 in the game's first four minutes, but scored six points in 1:20 to take a 6-5 lead. After a bucket by the Cardinals gave Saint Mary's the lead, the Loggers rattled off six more unanswered, including two layups from Ben Bates, to take a 12-7 advantage with 13:06 remaining in the half.
The Cardinals then went on a 6-1 run over the next five minutes, tying the game at 13. Puget Sound went 5:43 without making a field goal in the middle part of the half but was able to hang onto the lead by thanks to strong defensive play that forced three turnovers and three missed shots during the stretch.
Erin Barber shook the Loggers out of their offensive malaise, draining a three pointer with 7:23 remaining in the half. Over the next 1:08, the Cardinals scored seven points to take a brief 20-19 lead, but the Loggers took the advantage right back with free throws from AJ Maw and Kohl Meyer.
With the scored level at 22, the Loggers built five-point lead after draining five free throws and two layups. They re-extended their advantage to five after with a layup from Nick Holden and James Osorio setting the score at 31-26 with 3:28 to go.
Three minutes later, Keith Shattuck drained a three-pointer with 22 seconds remaining to put the Loggers up 39-32. Saint Mary's missed its final shot of the half and Shattuck grabbed the rebound, sending the Loggers into the halftime break up seven.
The Loggers made 12 of their 27 field goal attempts for a 44.4% first half average, draining two from beyond the arc. They made it to the free throw line 20 times in the first half as well, making 13 freebies for a third of their first-half points. These percentages were all better than Saint Mary's numbers as the Cardinals went 11 of 26 from field goal range for a 42.3% average and hit two of nine three-point attempts. Puget Sound also out-rebounded Saint Mary's 20-16 in the opening period.
After the break, Puget Sound came into the second half on fire, scoring nine points in the first 1:36 of the second half and taking a 48-32 lead. A three-pointer from Saint Mary's' Trent Vix came next, but that didn't halt the Logger run. Holden answered with a layup at the 17:50 mark, already his sixth point in the half.
The Loggers tallied an 11-3 run from 15:37 to 8:44, taking their first 20-point lead of the night with the score at 61-41. The Cardinals cut the lead down to 15 in the next minute and a half, but Puget Sound re-established the mark again at 4:33 and for good with 2:31 left in the second contest with a three-pointer from Matt Bergland. Twenty six seconds later Isaiah Dowdell made his first collegiate bucket, a layup at 2:05, to close out the Loggers' scoring. Saint Mary's added just one point in the final two minutes and the game ended 80-57 in favor of the Loggers.
Puget Sound saw its best shooting effort of the season, hitting 49.1% of its field goals. The Loggers went six of 16 from beyond the arc, and hit 20 free throws as well. In comparison, St. Mary's shot 33.9% from the field, going four of 19 from three point range and hitting 12 free throws. The Loggers also outrebounded the Cardinals, grabbing 43 loose balls to 34, forced 15 turnovers while committing 11, and blocking six shots from Cardinal players.
Individually, Holden led all players with a career-high 16 points. Rex Nelson scored 12, and Shattuck tied a career mark with 11. Also, Matt Reid added three steals by himself, tying the season high by a Logger player.
The Loggers (3-4, 0-0 NWC) will now take over a week off to rest up and prepare for their upcoming finals week. They next take the court Wednesday, Dec. 11 with a game at Evergreen State, whom they beat 71-58 in the season opener at Memorial Fieldhouse Nov. 15. The next game against the Geoducks will tip off at 8:00 p.m. in Olympia, Wash.