Wildcats Hold Off Bearcats, 70-63, in Men's Basketball

Brown of Willamette and Brill of Linfield each Score 20 Points

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

McMINNVILLE, ORE. -- Willamette University rallied from a 14-point deficit in the second half to get within a single point against Linfield College, but the Wildcats held off the Bearcats for a 70-63 win in Northwest Conference action on Tuesday, Feb. 18.

Linfield upped its record to 4-19, including 2-12 in the NWC. The Bearcats went to 3-20 overall, 1-13 in the NWC.

The Wildcats owned a 44-30 advantage after Tanner Brill sank two free throws with 15:49 left in the game. Willamette rallied to within 45-38 when Alex Brown (Jr., F, Happy Valley, OR/Clackamas HS) hit a 3-point basket as the shot clock expired with 13:08 remaining. Brown completed a 10-1 run with two free throws less than a minute later.

WU eventually moved as close as 46-45 on two free throws by Kyle McNally (Jr., Post, Salem, OR/Sprague HS) with 7:43 remaining. Jackson Gion successfully shot a 3-pointer for Linfield at the 7:11 mark to start an 8-2 run that gave the Wildcats a 54-47 advantage.

The Bearcats reduced the margin to 54-50 on Brown's second 3-pointer of the game with 5:31 to play. WU also was within four points at 57-53 after Bridger Harlington (So., Wing, Lake Tapps, WA/Auburn Riverside HS) scored on a trifecta with 2:43 to go.

Ryan Cali answered with a 3-pointer for Linfield 34 seconds later, and the Wildcats converted 10 of 10 free throws the rest of the way.

Brown scored 20 points for the Bearcats. Harlington earned nine points, four rebounds and three assists, while Brandon Luedtke (So., F, Meridian, ID/Mt. View HS) contributed eight points and a team-high six boards.

WU converted just 35.4% of its shots from the field (17 of 48). The Bearcats were 6 of 19 on 3-pointers and hit 23 of 32 free throws (71.9%)

The Wildcats were led by Brill with 20 points, six rebounds and five assists. Gion chipped in 14 points and Cali finished with 13 points and seven boards. Linfield shot 47.6% for the game (20 of 42) and made 9 of 20 three-pointers. The Wildcats went 21 of 29 at the line (72.4%).

Five of Linfield's 3-point baskets were early in the game as the Wildcats surged out to a 17-8 lead with 13:38 on the clock. The 3-pointers were by four players, including Gion, who sank two of the long-range shots.

The Wildcats increased the lead to 11 points, 23-12 when Vinnie Toor scored on a pull-up jumper in the lane and was fouled with 11:03 left. Toor missed the ensuing free throw.

Willamette cut the lead by scoring six unanswered points. Jake Stevens (Fr., F, Eagle, ID/Eagle HS) started the 6-0 run on a layup, with Avery Manu (Sr., W, Pocatello, ID/Highland HS) adding two free throws and Luedtke providing two more free throws. WU trailed 23-18 at the 8:40 mark.

During the next seven minutes, the Bearcats scored just four points. Willamette's scoring woes helped Linfield go on an 11-4 run. The run included two driving layups by Brill, plus two free throws and a trifecta by by Ryan Potter. The 3-pointer by Potter gave LC a 34-22 lead with 3:13 remaining in the half.

The next basket for either team was just over two minutes later with 1:08 on the clock, when Manu ended Willamette's scoring drought with a pull-up jumper under pressure in the lane.

A bit later, with 43 seconds left in the half, Linfield took over for its final possession of the period. The Wildcats ran off just over 30 seconds, but Cali lost the ball to McNally, who started a fast break.

Manu found Rich Vasquez (Jr., Post, Phoenix, AZ/Paradise Valley HS/Mesa CC) beneath the basket at the end of the break. Vasquez was fouled while shooting with 2.2 seconds left. He hit both free throws, as WU cut Linfield's lead to 34-26 at the intermission.

Willamette will play its final home game of the season on Friday, Feb. 21 against Pacific Lutheran University. Game time is slated for 8 p.m. (PST).

BOX SCORE

Linfield College 70
Willamette University 63

Alex Brown led Willamette with 20 points. he was 6 of 9 on field goals, hit 2 of 2 three-pointers and went 6 for 7 at the line.

Alex Brown led Willamette with 20 points. he was 6 of 9 on field goals, hit 2 of 2 three-pointers and went 6 for 7 at the line.