Linfield Hits Six of Nine Three-Pointers in Final 9:26 to Rally Past Willamette, 83-80

McMINNVILLE, ORE. -- Linfield College connected on six three-pointers in the final 9:28 and shot 61.3% from the field in the second half (19 of 31), as the Wildcats rallied to defeat visiting Willamette University, 83-80, in a Northwest Conference game at Ted Wilson Gym on Saturday, Feb. 10. The Bearcats held a 63-54 advantage with 9:54 left, before Linfield concluded the game with a 29-17 run. The Wildcats upped their record to 8-15 overall, 3-11 in the NWC. Willamette fell to 10-13 overall, 6-8 in the conference.

Steve Taylor of Linfield, who did not attempt even one three-pointer in the first half, sank four 3-pointers during Linfield's decisive run. Three-pointers by Payton Brooks and Jon Weber started the run, then a jumper by Stan Morgan pulled Linfield to within three points at 65-62 with 8:25 left.

Over the next 4:29, Taylor’s four trifectas were the only points scored by the Wildcats. His final 3-pointer, scored with 3:56 to go, gave Linfield a 74-73 lead. Taylor finished the game 4 for 7 from 3-point range.

Willamette scored the next four points. Corey Costantino (So., Wing, Ashland, OR/Ashland HS) hit the first of two free throw shots with 3:47 left, then rebounded the ball when he missed his second attempt. He passed the ball to Dan Nugent (Fr., Wing/Post, Portland, OR/Jesuit HS), who hit a 3-pointer from the left corner to move the Bearcats in front, 77-74.

Emil Kim scored the next six points for Linfield on jump shots with 3:13, 2:38 and 1:49 remaining. Nugent responded with a basket and a foul shot at with 1:40 to go, as Willamette tied the game, 80-80. On Linfield’s next possession, Weber scored a basket with just a few seconds left on the shot clock, pushing the Wildcats into the lead, 82-80, at the 1:07 mark.

With 49 seconds left, Nugent took a 10-foot jump shot. The ball went halfway into the basket, then rolled back out, and Jackson Baber rebounded the ball for the Wildcats.

Linfield’s Weber missed a free throw with 18 seconds left. Rob Andrus (Sr., Wing, Chimacum, WA/Chimacum HS) grabbed the rebound for Willamette, but turned the ball over while making a short pass. Weber registered a steal on the play, then went back to the free throw line when he was fouled by Kyler McClary (So., Post, Hillsboro, OR/Glencoe HS) with 10 seconds on the clock. Weber converted the first charity toss, but missed the second, giving Willamette a final chance to tie the game.

Nugent rebounded the missed free throw and quickly moved down the court. Just seconds later, Andrus missed a 3-pointer. McClary snagged the offensive rebound and sent the ball to Nugent, who missed a 3-point attempt with two seconds left. Time expired as the teams battled for the rebound.

Five Linfield players reached double digits in scoring. Taylor and Kim tied for the team’s scoring lead with 14 points, while Evan Temperly added 13 points. Brooks and Andy Baldwin each contributed 11 points.

Willamette’s top scorer was Nugent, who tallied 14 points in the second half to finish with 16 points overall. Andrus scored 12 points and Simon Currie supplied 11 points.

The game featured 13 ties and 15 lead changes, including eight ties and six lead changes in the first half. Linfield owned a 14-10 advantage just 4:35 into the game, but WU scored the next nine points to claim a 19-14 edge on a basket by Andrus with 12:25 left. The Bearcats also led 23-18 after Costantino sank a jumper with 9:27 on the clock.

Linfield took a 28-27 lead with 6:39 remaining in the half, but two free throws by Nugent at the 5:36 mark put the Bearcats back in front. WU led 37-32 with 1:25 left in the period, but a basket and foul shot by Sten Morgan with 1:08 remaining cut the Wildcats’ deficit to two points at the break.

The Bearcats scored the first four points of the second half for a 41-35 advantage. Later, Willamette used a 12-0 run to take a 63-54 lead with 9:54 left. Simon Currie (So., Wing/Post, Bend, OR/Mt. View HS) and C.J. Stuvland (Sr., Pt. Guard/Wing, Portland, OR/University of Oregon) each hit a 3-pointer during the run. Linfield’s deluge of three-pointers soon followed, as the Wildcats rallied.

LC achieved a 34-29 rebounding margin during the game. Baber led the way for Wildcats with a game-high 12 rebounds, while Baldwin added eight boards. The Bearcats received five rebounds each from Nugent and junior post Ian Mansfield (Hillsboro, OR/Century HS).

Both teams shot over 50% for the game, as Linfield hit 32 of 62 field goals (51.6%) and Willamette made 30 of 58 shots from the floor (51.7%). Linfield was 9 of 25 on three-pointers, after making just two of 10 three-point attempts in the first half. Willamette put through 5 of 19 long-range shots on the night, but went 0 for 7 in the first half from 3-point range.

Willamette will close out the season with two more Northwest Conference road games next weekend. On Friday, Feb. 16, the Bearcats will take on Whitworth College in Spokane, Wash. On Saturday, Feb. 17, Willamette will face Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash. Both games are slated to begin at 8 p.m. (PST).