Scoring runs plays roll in game outcomes
Men’s basketball split the first two games of the season, defeating Trinity University on Nov. 21, and losing to Corban College on Nov. 23. The team pulled together for a win over The Evergreen State College on Nov. 30.
The ’Cats opened their season strong, edging Trinity for a 69-57 win in Spokane, Wash.
Led by 23 points from senior center K.C. Wiser, the ’Cats recovered from a slow start.
With less than 10 minutes remaining in the half and down by 11 points, the ’Cats pounced. Scores from Wiser, senior guard Ryan Lobdell and sophomore forward Zach Meikle composed a 14-3 run to cut Trinity’s lead to one.
The ’Cats struggled to find momentum until the second half. Trailing 45-50, Wiser nailed a three-pointer and closed the gap to two points.
Wiser’s shot ignited a 20-2 run by the ’Cats, giving them a 65-52 lead with 52 seconds remaining.
Sophomore forward Zach Anderson credited the team’s defense with the big run.
“We started to play more aggressively on defense, which kind of propelled our offense,” he said. “Defense has been a focus for us.”
Linfield’s defense held Trinity to just 25 points and 26 percent shooting in the second half. The ’Cats allowed a paltry 33 percent shooting for the game.
Anderson said that smart shots and ball control were key on the offensive end.
“We turned the ball over a lot at first, but once we stopped doing that, things got rolling,” he said. “We have a lot of guys who are good at shooting and that helps us out. We’ve also had good shot selection in our two wins.”
The undefeated Corban Warriors erased a 12-point, first-half deficit to hand the ’Cats their first loss of the season, 81-84.
Corban took advantage of a large free throw disparity, sinking 30 free throws to Linfield’s 10.
The ’Cats, however, struggled to capitalize on their free throws. They finished 10-20, good for only 50 percent. Anderson said the team’s defensive and free throw difficulties ultimately cost them the game.
“On defense, we kind of fouled and reached too much,” Anderson said. “We fouled a lot and put them to the line a lot, which hurt us.”
A three-pointer from freshman guard Josh Rodrigues gave the ’Cats a 41-29 lead in the first half. The Linfield bench provided a spark, outscoring the Corban reserves 19-4.
The ’Cats entered halftime with a nine-point cushion following a three-pointer from junior forward Zach Spencer.
Corban jumped on Linfield after the break, putting together a 14-4 run. Junior guard Jonathan Ramirez scored on a layup, which put Corban ahead for good at 51-50.
The Warrior lead was extended to 73-65 with six minutes left in the game, but the ’Cats responded with an 8-1 spurt in which Wiser scored six of his game-high 22 points.
Senior guard Ryan Lobdell trimmed the deficit to one with 34 seconds remaining. The Warriors made all four of their ensuing free throws as they held onto the win.
The ’Cats earned their second win of the season in a 97-77 rout of Evergreen on Nov. 30.
Anderson and senior forward Sergio Rosario contributed 18 points and nine rebounds apiece on a combined 15-20.
Wiser led the team with a career-high 37 points on 14-23 shooting. He scored 19 points in the first half,
helping the ’Cats build a 14 point lead.
“We have a lot of tall, lengthy players,” he said. “Our guards are tall, so we figured crashing the boards would be a good thing for us. Our overall height as a team is pretty good.”
The ’Cats hold a 2-1 record heading into their Dec. 3 matchup with Whitman College. The team also plays rival Whitworth University on Dec. 4. Both games are at home at 8 p.m.
Matt Bayley/Staff reporter
Matt Bayley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.