LAS VEGAS, Nev. – A running 12-foot jumper in the lane by Adam Myren hit the rim and bounced away as time expired, leaving the Linfield Wildcats one bucket short in a 66-65 loss to Bridgewater State (Mass.) Sunday night at the D3hoops.com Classic at South Point Arena.
The narrow defeat overshadowed a career performance by Wildcats center Chris Dirks, who pumped in 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting.
The first half featured five lead changes and seven ties before a pair of free throws by Ryan Cali (Sr., San Jose, Calif.) and a 3-pointer from Myren enabled Linfield to surge into intermission with a four-point advantage, 39-35. Dirks connected on four of his first six shots and the Wildcats shot 47 percent from the field in the opening stanza while outrebounding the Bears 20-16.
Linfield twice stretched its lead to nine points in the second period, first on a 3-pointer by Ryan Potter (So., Molalla, Ore.) with 15:19 to play, then on a layup by Mason Rodby (So., Redmond, Ore.) with 11:33 left that gave the ‘Cats a 54-45 cushion.
Bridgewater State then launched a 14-4 spurt that spanned the next six minutes, getting five points from Tyler DeMelo and four more from Kyle Gibson to go in front 59-58 with 5:35 remaining.
The Wildcats grabbed the lead again, but only momentarily, on Rodby's layup in the paint on a feed from Cali.
A steal and layup by DeMelo put Bridgewater State in front for good with just over four minutes on the clock, though the Wildcats were in position to win the game at the buzzer after Cali swished a 3-pointer with five seconds showing.
Dirks fouled Gibson with three seconds left to stop the clock but Gibson missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw opportunity. Wildcats guard Kevin Hurley (Jr., Portland, Ore.) rebounded the miss and called timeout, allowing the Linfield coaching staff to diagram a play for Myren, whose desperation effort couldn't locate the bottom of the net.
In addition to Dirks' 22 points, the Wildcats got 10 points each from Rodby and Tanner Brill. Cali added eight points and Myren totaled six off the bench. Brill had four of the Wildcats' 15 assists.
DeMelo scored a team-high 14 points in a reserve role for Bridgewater State, which moved to 4-5.
NEXT: Linfield (2-7) meets Carroll (Wis.) Monday in another D3hoops.com Classic contest starting at 6 p.m.