In the game against Whitman, senior forward Sergio Rosario scored 24 points on 6-11 shooting, leading a balanced attack in which three Wildcats scored in double digits.
Senior center K.C. Wiser said that the team’s depth was its strength this season.
“We have a lot of guys with talent, and everyone can contribute in a lot of different ways,” he said.
Whitman held a one-point lead following a first-half wrestling match in which neither team shot more than 40 percent.
The ’Cats defense only allowed 27 percent shooting by Whitman in the first half.
Senior guard Ryan Lobdell converted two free throws with 10 minutes remaining in the second half to give Linfield a 52-47 lead.
Junior guard Daniel Teater chipped in a 3-pointer and two free throws to give Linfield a 57-50 advantage with less than 10 minutes left in the game.
The ’Cats lead was extended to nine following a dunk by junior forward Zach Spencer. The team’s offense floundered during the next 3 minutes and they didn’t manage to make a single score.
Whitman took advantage of Linfield’s offensive drought, closing the gap to five points with 6 minutes remaining in the game.
With the lead shrinking, the ’Cats responded with a run of their own.
A score from Wiser finished five straight points from Linfield, pushing the lead to 64-54 with only 3 minutes left in the game.
A resilient Missionaries team fought back, with a 3-pointer from sophomore guard Peter Clark and three points from junior guard Brandon Shaw, pulling Whitman to within four.
Linfield was able to hold off the late Whitman run by converting its free throws. The ’Cats made eight consecutive free throws in the last minute, sealing the 72-62 win.
The ’Cats were later declawed by the visiting Whitworth team. The Pirates dominated in a 57-90 rout.
Linfield’s offense started the Whitworth game out cold with a 3-20 offering. The ’Cats shot 21 percent in the first half compared with Whitworth’s 34 percent.
Both teams found some offensive success in the second half, with Linfield improving its shooting to 54 percent. However, the ’Cats allowed Whitworth to shoot at a 57 percent clip in the second half.
The ’Cats couldn’t contain senior Whitworth guard Mike Taylor, who lit up Linfield for 14 points in the first half. He finished the game with 20 points.
Rosario’s jumper cut the lead to 4-6 with 16 minutes left in the first half, but Whitworth closed the half on a devastating 10-33 run.
Wiser contributed a team-high 13 points and seven rebounds for the ’Cats. He was the only Linfield player to crack double-figure scoring.
The ’Cats lost the rebound battle by a wide margin, getting out-rebounded 27-40. Wiser lead the team with seven rebounds.
Whitworth handily won the free throw battle, making 22 more shots out of 26 more attempts.
Despite the loss, Wiser said he is confident in the team’s abilities. The team believes it can compete for the championship, and
Wiser said he knows it will take a disciplined work-ethic.
“It will take everyone buying into our goals and playing the way we know we can,” he said.
The ’Cats play Simpson College at home on Dec. 10 at 8 p.m.
Matt Bayley/Staff reporter
Matt Bayley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.