On Dec. 4, the men’s basketball team laced up its sneakers and aimed for its second win of the season against Concordia University.
The ’Cats defeated the Cavaliers, 91-79, in the Nov. 24 matchup. Linfield won almost all across the board, outrebounding Concordia, 39-32 and matching Concordia’s turnovers at 19, the Wildcats only lost attempts from the foul line, giving the Cavaliers 23 attempts to their 22. Linfield also sent Concordia to the line 35 times, which contributed to the loss.
Next up for the ’Cats is the Cactus Jam, for which they will travel to Phoenix Dec. 27.
“We changed our game plan,” head coach Larry Doty said. “We wanted to be better in our half-court defense, keep them off the free throw line and cut down on our turnovers.”
The Dec. 4 game was all that any rematch can live up to be; full of exciting plays and down to the wire. The Wildcats trailed the entire first half until the remaining minutes of the second quarter. Linfield went on a 10-0 run that gave them the lead, 35-27, and momentum going into the locker room.
The battle continued through the second half as both teams traded baskets until the waning minutes of the fourth quarter. This turned out to be the kind of game athletes and fans love and the kind that shorten coaches’ lives.
At the 2:50 mark of the fourth quarter, the score was in Linfield’s favor, 61-58. The Wildcats quickly turned two key defensive stops into four free throws by sophomore guard Drew Schroeder and senior guard Steve Taylor, followed by a three pointer from senior forward Brian Murphy. Those key plays broke the game open and gave Linfield a 10-point lead, leaving Concordia with only the option to foul.
When the game ended, Linfield had firmly taken the win, 76-64.
Leading scorers for the Wildcats were junior forward Erik Olson with 16 points, freshman center K.C. Wiser with 14 and Murphy and Taylor each with 10. Olson led the team with seven rebounds and Schroeder closely followed with six of his own.
Concordia’s top scorer was Desmond Meray with 24 points and Matt Ochs led the team in rebounds with seven.
The win puts Linfield at 4-2 and in great position to have success this season, especially with the “Big Three” categories: free throws, attempted and made, rebounds and turnovers.
“The outlook for the season looks bright, especially if we can turn around two of the “Big Three” categories,” Doty said.
Last year, the team won one of its three games in the Cactus Jam tournament. It came out victorious in a matchup against Colorado College Dec. 28, but fell short in competition against Baldwin-Wallace College with a score of 69-61, and against Mount Union College with a score of 73-67.
Despite the unfortunate result of last year’s competition, the team hopes it will perform better in this year’s tournament.