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McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Jeremy Kilgore posted 22 points and Hope International led Linfield from start to finish en route to a 67-58 victory Saturday night at Ted Wilson Gymnasium.
Linfield had hopes of recording its first victory of the young season, but instead fell to 0-4 with the loss. The Royals (6-1) of the National Christian College Athletic Association were coming off their first loss of the season after winning five consecutive games to start 2012-13.
Senior forward Matt Paterson grabbed a pair of offensive rebounds in the opening minutes, and also contributed a steal en route to an early 5-0 advantage for the Royals.
A three from Kilgore followed by a basket from Kris Rosales capped off a 10-0 run by Hope International and provoked Linfield head coach Larry Doty to take a timeout just three minutes into the game.
In the blink of an eye, the ‘Cats were back in the game as seven points from Andrew Batiuk on three consecutive possessions cut the spread to 13-9.
After a timeout, the Royals began to pull away, establishing a steady 10-point lead through the middle part of the first half.
A slick full-court pass from Batiuk to Cory Hendrix followed by a lob pass and lay-in from Brandon Harris to Zach Meikle helped the ‘Cats keep pace with the Royals. With 2:30 left in the first half, a jump shot from Matt Kalbfleisch pulled Linfield within four, making the score 34-30.
The teams traded baskets to close out the period, and Hope International carried a 38-34 advantage into the break. Kilgore led all scorers with 11 in the first and Peterson grabbed seven first-half boards for the Royals.
For the Wildcats in the first, Meikle had five rebounds, six points and a pair of steals, while Batiuk led the way in the scoring department with nine.
Kilgore knocked down eight points in the first five minutes of the second to help the Royals stretch their lead back to 49-40 with 14 minutes to play.
A three-point play from Meikle followed by a layup from Harris cut the Royals’ advantage to 57-51 with about four minutes to go.
Rosales completed a three-point play with just under two minutes remaining to push the spread back to ten points, which sealed the deal for the Royals.
Meikle and Batiuk each scored in double-digits for the ‘Cats with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
AHEAD: Linfield opens NWC play next Friday, Nov. 30 when it plays host to Lewis & Clark. The game will be the Wildcats’ third in a string of seven consecutive home matchups, with tipoff slated for 7 p.m.