MCMINNVILLE, Ore. – Lewis & Clark’s James Hollins led all scorers with 28 points and added five rebounds and the Pioneers handed Linfield its third straight defeat, 80-70 Saturday night at Ted Wilson Gymnasium.
The game was close throughout and the Wildcats managed to stay within striking distance until the final minutes.
Wildcats center David Lee topped Linfield statistics with 23 points and eight rebounds, Andrew Batiuk (Jr., Lake Oswego, Ore.) had 22 points, and Zach Anderson posted 15 points for the Wildcats (4-16, 2-9 NWC).
Marcus Wells scored 14 points, P.J. Taylor, had 13, and Ross Erickson added a dozen for the Pioneers (11-9, 6-5 NWC), who remain in contention for a NWC playoff tournament berth.
The teams traded buckets early, as Lewis & Clark matched Linfield shot-for-shot through the first five minutes. Neither team mounted a significant lead until the Pioneers went on a 7-0 run to establish a six-point cushion midway through the first half.
Batiuk cut the spread in half with a 3-point field goal on his way to 18 first-half points. Anderson, Lee and Batiuk combined for 35 of Linfield’s 38 points in the period.
Hollins hit back-to-back threes for the Pioneers en route to a 14-point first half.
The Pioneers outshot the Wildcats 50 to 44 percent in the opening 20 minutes. Linfield made 4-of-5 shots from behind the arc while Lewis & Clark made 3-of-9 from long range. Linfield outrebounded the Pioneers in the first period 21-12.
The theme of the first half carried over to the second, with neither team taking outright control. The Pioneers pulled in front 50-43, aided by two 3-pointers from Wells. Momentum shifted back to Linfield as the ‘Cats went on a 7-0 run, capped by a nifty 3-pointer from Brandon Harris to put the hosts back in front temporarily, 53-52.
With time winding down, Taylor and Hollins hit back-to-back threes to push the Pioneers’ lead to 11. The ‘Cats never responded, missing four of their final six shots from the field. Anderson left the game due to an injury with just under three minutes remaining.
For the game, Lewis & Clark outshot Linfield 53 to 46 percent from the field and shot 42 percent from behind the arc and 75 percent from the free throw line. Linfield converted six of 12 3-point field goals and was 16-of-21 from the free throw line. The Pioneers converted 13 points off turnovers compared with the Wildcats’ seven.
AHEAD: Linfield hosts Whitworth Friday night at 8 o’clock. The rematch comes nearly one month after the Pirates got the best of the ‘Cats in a hard-fought 65-61 victory. Saturday, Linfield continues its homestand against the Whitman Missionaries, with a special tipoff time of 6.