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McMINNVILLE, Ore. – A late surge fell short for the Linfield Wildcats, who dropped an 86-78 nonconference decision to the visiting Concordia-Portland Cavaliers Friday night inside Ted Wilson Gymnasium.
Linfield (1-6) outscored Concordia 45-42 in the second half, but the ‘Cats couldn’t overcome a lackluster shooting night on the way to their second consecutive defeat.
Both teams featured four players who scored in double figures. Concordia (3-5) was powered by the 23 points and five rebounds of Adam Herman. Willy Ligon added 16 points and four caroms for the Cavs, Justyn Searle had 14 points, seven rebounds and five blocked shots, and Anthony Holton dropped in 10 points to go with seven rebounds.
CU shot 51 percent for the game while Linfield was hitting at a 37 percent clip. Wildcats guard Brandon Harris totaled a career-best 12 rebounds, helping the hosts to a 51-38 advantage on the glass. Harris added 10 points, three assists and a couple of steals.
Linfield center Andrew Batiuk poured in 23 points on 9-of-17 shooting despite playing much of the game in foul trouble. Zach Meikle scored 14 points and Cory Hendryx added 12 points off the bench.
Behind Herman’s 10 points, the Cavaliers surged to 44-33 advantage at the intermission. Concordia shot 57 percent in the half to Linfield’s 38 percent. Though Linfield held a 24-16 edge on the backboards through the first half, the Cavs forced 11 Wildcat turnovers to snatch the early upper hand.
The teams were neck-and-neck over the game’s first 10 minutes before Concordia broke away from a 17-16 lead. The Cavaliers outscored the Wildcats 12-6 over closing three minutes to take the momentum into the halftime lockerroom.
Meikle scored eight first-half points and Batiuk tallied seven, but the Linfield front line tandem shot a combined 6-for-15 from the field. Batiuk picked up his third personal foul with two minutes left in the half and was forced to retreat to the bench.
CU kept the pressure on once play resumed, extending its lead to 15 points, 66-51, on a 3-pointer by Robbie Jackson. A 3-pointer by Batiuk, plus a pair of free throws from Meikle, helped the ‘Cats slice the margin to eight, 70-62. Nick Cantonwine contributed two more free throws to make it a six-point game at 70-64 with just under eight minutes remaining. The Wildcats had multiple opportunities to make it a two-possession game but each time Concordia answered with a defensive stop or clutch basket.
With under a minute to play, Harris made a steal and fed Hendryx for a 3-pointer, cutting the difference to seven at 81-74. Hendryx then went inside for a layin that pulled Linfield to within five, 81-76. The Cavaliers’ Anthony Holton, Ligon and Herman then combined to sink 7 of 8 free throws down the stretch to salt the game away.
COMING UP: The Wildcats are back in action Saturday night when they host the Northwest Christian Beacons in an 8 o’clock matchup at Ted Wilson Gym. Linfield then enjoys a 12-day break in the schedule as players complete final exams before a Dec. 21 home game against Montana State-Northern.