Kurtis Williams – For the Review. Heading into the final weekend of its conference season, the men’s basketball team will try to finish in a playoff spot.
Currently second in the Northwest Conference with a 9-5 record, Linfield
faces Whitworth University, undefeated in the NWC, in the final game of the season.
Linfield faces Whitman College on Feb. 19 before Whitworth comes to Ted Wilson Gymnasium on Feb. 20.
Starting the season with a 2-6 record, injuries at key positions made the Wildcats’ preseason schedule difficult.
But once conference season began, the team rebounded, winning the next seven out of eight contests. Its first loss of the season came against Whitworth, winner of 21 straight games, owner of a 22-2 record and the No. 7 rank in the nation.
Once again, though, the ’Cats hit a bump in the road, losing four out of its last six games, including back-to-back losses to the conference’s last-place teams.
Second-place Linfield beat third-ranked George Fox University for the second time this season Feb. 13. The win gave the Wildcats the tiebreaker if the Bruins win its remaining two games and Linfield falters against either Whitman or Whitworth.
The game against George Fox seemed one-sided at halftime, as Linfield led 38-23. But the Bruins fought back in the second, hitting nine three-pointers.
The Wildcats were led offensively by senior guard Cody Tesoro, who had 20 points. Junior center K.C. Wiser added 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Senior guard Drew Schroeder and senior forward Kris Rainwater also scored double-digit points. Despite the close 74-70 result, Linfield led from start to finish.
Despite nagging injuries, Tesoro leads the team in scoring with 17.8 points per game. That is also good enough for second in the conference.
Wiser is second with 17.4 per game and leads the team with rebounds 8.2 per game.
On the defensive end, Rainwater leads the team and conference with 1.77 blocks per game.
The team has also found good contributions from first-year players.
Sophomore transfers forwards Brady Martin and Zach Anderson are both averaging about seven points, four rebounds and 16 minutes per game.
Freshman guard Joseph Vance has averaged 23.5 minutes and seven points per game.