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NEWBERG, Ore. – Two Wildcats had career nights, but as a team, Linfield shot just 29.2 percent from the floor, making it difficult to challenge George Fox, 75-55 winners on Senior Night at the Wheeler Sports Center Saturday evening.
The Bruins, who led by as many as 28 points in the second half, maintained their share of second place in the Northwest Conference standings with an 8-3 record against league opponents, 14-8 overall. Anthony Sanchez contributed 11 points and eight rebounds in the winning effort, with teammates A.J. Grant and Spencer Bolte adding 10 points each.
On the other end of the scoring table were the Wildcats (3-18, 2-10 NWC), who lost their seventh straight game, and second of the year to their Yamhill County rivals. Chris Dirks posted his first career double-double with 10 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Starting center Forrest Paxton scored a career-high 10 points, including four from the charity stripe, while Jordan Russell came off the bench to supply 10 more.
Held to a woeful 30.8 percent shooting percentage in the opening half, the Wildcats made just four field goals over the first 12 minutes of the game. Russell’s 3-point bucket with 7:52 to play finally got the ‘Cats over the double-digit hump, and trimmed the deficit to eight points, 20-12. That is as close as the visitors got the rest of the night, however, as the Bruins opened up an 18-point lead by the break and never looked back.
As George Fox and Linfield were about even with regard to shots attempted (65-60), rebounds (48-43), bench points (29-26) and equal in the number of turnovers (13-13), the game came down to accuracy. The Bruins knocked down 41.7 of their attempts on the evening, while the ‘Cats connected on just 29.2 of their looks at the basket.
Facing a 52-26 hole midway through the second half, Linfield pieced together a 9-2 run, capped off by a trey from Brandon Harris. That dipped the scoring gap to below 20 points, but the Bruins quickly reversed momentum, rattling off a 12-2 spurt that pushed the spread back to 28 with 6:49 on the clock.
Linfield then held the hosts without a field goal for the rest of the night, though George Fox knocked down 9-of-13 free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
The ‘Cats held the advantage in points off turnovers, scoring 22 points off 13 George Fox miscues, and saw nine different players score.
In addition to playing their second straight contest without NWC leading scorer Andrew Batiuk, the Wildcats were also without the services of senior Zach Meikle, averaging 6.4 points per game. Both sat out with injuries.
COMING UP: After a season-long seven-game road stretch, Linfield finally returns to the friendly confines of Ted Wilson Gymnasium for a Friday night matchup against Pacific. Game time is set for 8 o’clock.