Bearcats Fall to Linfield, 76-70

SALEM, OR — Blake Shelton scored 29 points and the Wildcats withstood a late Bearcat rally as Linfield College beat Willamette University in a Northwest Conference game Tuesday night at the Cone Field House.

John Olinger paced the Bearcats with 25 points. Senior Todd Lewis, playing in his final home game, scored ten points and grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds.

The win raises Linfield’s record to 11-10 overall and 7-5 in the NWC. The Bearcats fall to 9-13, 6-7 NWC and see a three-game win streak snapped.

The Bearcats held a small lead for much of the first half in the closely fought contest until an 8-2 run — highlighted by four points from Shelton and a tip-in from Andy Baldwin — gave the Wildcats a 34-32 half-time lead.

Shelton and Ryan Monagle (13 points, five rebounds) opened the second half with baskets as the Wildcats went on an 11-3 run to take a 45-35 lead with 15:45 to play.

The lead stayed near ten until a late run by the Bearcats. A Lewis jumper cut the lead to eight at 72-64. A jumper by Michael Plank (10 points, 3 rebounds) pulled the Bearcats to within 73-66 and Plank’s foul shot cut the lead to six. But the Bearcats could get no closer as Shelton hit four late free throws to seal the victory.

Linfield shot 50% from the field to 35% for the Bearcats. Willamette had a huge edge on the boards, out-rebounding the Wildcats 54-34.

The Bearcats travel to Pacific Lutheran next Tuesday to play the make-up game from the power outage two weeks ago. They finish the season on the road at Whitman and Whitworth the following weekend.

John Olinger

John Olinger