TACOMA, Wash—The Puget Sound men's basketball squad threatened a comeback in the final eight minutes against Whitman Saturday night, but the Missionaries held off the surging Loggers for a 79-71 victoryat Memorial Fieldhouse in Tacoma.
Down by 15 with 8:13 remaining in the second half, the Loggers scored five points in a row to begin the comeback. Whitman's Matt Mounier interrupted Puget Sound's mini-run with a free throw, but James Osorio countered with a three-pointer to pull the Loggers within eight with 5:45 left in regulation. The Missionaries extended their lead back out to 11 with little more than three and a half minutes left, but Rex Nelson netted a layup and Nick Holden sank two free throws to pull the home team within seven.
The Loggers found themselves down by 11 with 47 seconds left on the game clock when AJ Maw earned a traditional three-point play, getting fouled on a made layup and sinking the resulting free throw. Whitman made one of two shots from the charity stripe three seconds later, but Erin Barber pulled Puget Sound within five at 76-71 with a layup at the 31-second mark. The Loggers could come no closer, however, missing two three-pointers in the final 30 seconds while fouling and putting Whitman on the free throw line twice. The Missionaries made three of those four free throws to clinch the 79-71 victory.
"I thought we did an excellent job fighting back in the second half," said Puget Sound head coach Justin Lunt. "We showed a lot of character to put us back into the game."
Before that point Whitman held the lead for most of the contest, leading for the entire second half and all but 14 seconds in the first. The guests leapt out to a 5-0 lead in the first 2:22 of the game, but the Loggers fought back with back-to-back three pointers from Osorio and Maw to take their one and only lead, a one-point advantage 3:18 into the game. The Missionaries countered with a three-ball of their own 14 seconds later and retook the lead for good.
The Loggers never went away, however, staying within 10 points until six minutes remained in the first half. Down by 12 with 2:14 left in the first period, they scored six of the half's final eight points to head into the locker room trailing eight at 38-30. Osorio started that run with a jumper at 1:56, and then Barber made a bucket continued it with 52 seconds left. Nelson netted a jumper with nine seconds on the clock to get back within eight.
Puget Sound maintained its deficit in the first 2:07 of the second half, coming within six after a jumper by Osorio at the 17:53 mark. The Missionaries responded with an 8-0 run over the next minute and a half, but the Loggers fought back with nine of the next 11 points, whittling the Whitman lead down to five with 11:50 left to play. At that point Whitman took off on another run to claim the 15-point advantage, their largest of the contest.
"We had opportunities, but kudos to Whitman" said Lunt. "That's the first team in a long time to out-rebound us. They hit the glass, they hit their shots; it was impressive."
Five players scored in double-digits for the Loggers with Barber leading the way at 17. Right behind him, Osorio netted 16, and Holden scored 13 from off the bench. Maw and Nelson also added 10 points apiece. Nelson tallied his fifth double-double of the season after grabbing 10 rebounds to lead the Puget Sound squad. LuQuam Thompson led all players by scoring 22 points for the Missionaries, and Evan Martin grabbed 12 points for the visiting team as well.
Altogether, Puget Sound shot 37.0% from the field and 28.6% from beyond the arc, netting six three-pointers in the contest. Whitman shot 34.3% from the field and 23.1% from three-point range but made 23 buckets and six three-pointers as well. The guests also out-rebounded Puget Sound, although barely after holding a 43-42 advantage on the glass.
The Loggers (11-10, 7-5 NWC) don't have much time to recover from the weekend's games as they're back in action Tuesday, Feb. 11 at Pacific Lutheran. They take on their cross-town rival at 6:00 p.m. at Names Family Court on the campus of Pacific Lutheran University in Parkland, Wash.