Willamette Whips Linfield To Take Over 1st Place in NWC

McMINNVILLE, Ore. — David Force scored 22 points and the Willamette University men’s basketball team hit 34 of 39 free throws, taking took over sole possession of first place in the Northwest Conference with a 74-61 win over Linfield Tuesday night at Ted Wilson Gym.

The Bearcats built an early lead, then rode the shoulders of Force to the victory. The Bearcats (11-5, 6-1 NWC) take over the NWC’s top spot, a half-game ahead of Puget Sound, which was idle Tuesday. The Wildcats (9-6, 4-2 NWC) remained in third place in the NWC standings, despite dropping their second straight contest.

Along with his game-high 22, Force hit 11 of 12 at the free throw line as the Bearcats sank 34 of 39 at the line.
The Wildcats were just two of seven from the foul stripe.

Guard John Olinger scored 12 of his 16 points in the first half as Willamette built a 22-7 lead midway through the period. The Bearcats doubled the Wildcats' output with three minutes left in the half when Josh Erickson's three-pointer made it 36-18.

Erickson and Miles Sandgathe each scored 11 for the Bearcats.

Willamette led 39-22 at the break. Willamette shot only marginally better than the Wildcats during the first stanza, .367 to .323. But the Bearcats were blistering from beyond the three-point arc, hitting 6 of 11 long bombs and outrebounding Linfield by a 27-16 margin.

Brennan Garrelts' breakaway dunk extended the WU advantage to 20 points two minutes into the second half.

Linfield pulled to within five with under five minutes to play, but a three-point play by Harold Sublett Jr. and two more free throws by Force with 2:01 left sent the lead back to 10, 65-55. The Wildcats could get no closer as Willamette ran out the clock to log the victory.

Coming up, the Bearcats travel to Pacific to face the Boxers Friday night at the Pacific Athletic Center.