GEORGETOWN, Texas – The Southwestern University Pirates men's basketball team lost its second consecutive conference game, falling to the Texas Lutheran University (TLU) Bulldogs 75-69 at home.
Brandon Alexander and Andrew Puhl scored 18 points each to lead the Pirates but were the only two Southwestern players to finish in double figures on a night Southwestern shot just 4-for-18 from deep, 9-for-15 from the free-throw line, and 42.4 percent overall.
The Pirates struggled offensively in the first half, hitting just 40.7 percent and committing six turnovers to just four assists and TLU got strong minutes from two members of its second unit to take a 37-32 lead at the half.
Bulldogs' reserve Jamir Mason disrupted the Southwestern offense early with two steals and several other deflections, swiping drives on the ball and digging down off to force turnovers. Fellow reserve Alex Cage caught fire early, scoring 10 points in 12 first-half minutes, shooting 4-for-7 from the field, including 2-for-3 from deep.
Shooting can distort defenses in multiple ways, either breaking a defense with explosive bursts or by wearing it down with the constant attention it seeks. Cage amplified that by combining his shot-making with an ability to create his own shot off the bounce.
The Pirates' Andrew Puhl worked diligently in the second half, creating angles to the rim and backing his defender down for a layup, hook shot, or short jumper to score 16 points on 8-for-13 shooting In the second half with all of his points coming in or near the paint.
Cage answered every Southwestern run. With the ball on his hands, he used the threat of his jumper to bring defenders up and open the lane. The threat of his drives kept defenders on their heels, clearing space for a pull-up jumper. The Bulldogs' reserve scored 16 points in the second half, scoring a game-high 26 points on 10-for-18 shooting, including 3-for-6 from deep.
More importantly, the threat of the Bulldogs' shooting forced switches and defensive breakdowns, opening backdoor lobs and mismatches that helped draw 10 TLU free throws, of which they hit nine.
For the Pirates, Alexander finished 5-for-11 from the field with nine rebounds and Puhl was 9-for-18 with six rebounds. Jake Holmes had nine points and nine rebounds and Luke Hicks had six off the bench.
Nathan Josephs had 12 points and three assists for TLU and Harris Jowell had 10 points and 11 rebounds with two blocks.
With the loss, the Pirates drop to 8-8 on the season and 5-2 in conference play while TLU improves to 11-6 and 6-2 in conference. Southwestern will host the University of Dallas on Saturday, Jan. 19 at 6:00 p.m.