McMINNVILLE, Ore. - Sergio Rosario scored a team-high 24 points and Linfield held Whitman to 31.8 percent shooting, as the ‘Cats opened up their Northwest Conference schedule with a 72-62 win over the Missionaries Friday evening at Ted Wilson Gymnasium.
After a hotly contested first half that left Whitman with a one-point advantage, much remained the same during the early portion of the second half. It wasn’t until two Ryan Lobdell free throws with 10:19 remaining that either club held a second-half lead larger than four.
After Lobdell put the ‘Cats out in front 52-47, Daniel Teater followed up with a 3-pointer at the 9:07 mark. Teater would add two free throws less than a minute later, giving Linfield a 57-50 advantage.
Zach Spencer extended the lead to nine on a breakaway dunk, but it would be the last basket the Wildcats would score over the next 3:36. The cold spell allowed the Missionaries to draw within five with 6:45 remaining.
Linfield answered back with five-straight points, taking a 64-54 advantage on a K.C. Wiser basket with 3:28 left in the game.
A Peter Clark 3-pointer and three points from Brandon Shaw cut the Linfield lead to 64-60 at the 1:40 mark. Whitman would get no closer the rest of the way, as Linfield sealed the game at the free throw line, going 8-of-8 from the charity stripe in the final minute.
Whitman was completely shut down on the offensive end of the floor. The Missionaries struggled from beyond the arc and at the foul line, going 7-of-34 from 3-point range and 13-of-26 from the free throw line.
Linfield took care of business from the foul line, knocking down 27-of-33 attempts, good for an 81.8 percent output.
During the first half neither team got anything going on the offensive end of the court. The Wildcats shot 37 percent from the floor, while the Missionaries shot at a 27.3 percent clip. The two clubs combined for 21 turnovers in the first half.
After trailing 12-11 with 11:55 remaining in the half the Wildcats rallied off an 11-3, taking a 22-15 lead on a pair of Sergio Rosario free throws at the 7:10 mark. Rosario led the ‘Cats with a team-high eight points in the first half.
Linfield’s seven-point edge was quickly erased, as Whitman responded with six-straight points to pull within one. Neither team lead by more than four points the rest of the half, as a coast-to-coast layup from Shaw gave the Missionaries a 30-29 advantage going into the locker room.
Whitman hurt Linfield for 14 offensive rebounds and 14 second-chance points during the first half.
Three days removed from a 37-point performance, Wiser responded with another great effort, this time scoring 13 points and adding 13 rebounds. Lobdell chipped in with 11 points.
With his team struggling to find any rhythm on the offensive end, Shaw almost single-handedly kept the Missionaries in the game. Shaw tallied 24 points on 10-of-18 shooting in the loss.
NEXT: Linfield returns to action Saturday for an 8 p.m. home game against Whitworth.