Linfield Wildcats
January 17, 2014
Opening minutes set tone
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McMINNVILLE, Ore. - Early domination by guard Tochi Oti and a thundering dunk by Evan Martin in the first half fueled the Whitman Missionaries to a convincing 73-53 Northwest Conference victory over the Linfield Wildcats Friday night at Ted Wilson Gymnasium.

Oti hit seven of his 10 shots from the floor on his way to a game-high 19 points. Martin chipped in with 13 on 5 of 7 shooting.

Tanner Brill scored a team-high 10 points for the Wildcats while Ryan Cali (Sr., San Jose, Calif.) had nine, including two 3-point buckets. Chris Dirks made 3-of-6 shots from the field to finish with seven points.

Oti drained a straightaway 3-pointer that banked off the backboard on the game's opening possession and the Missionaries were off and running. Vinnie Toor (Sr., Fremont, Calif.) answered with a layup of his own within the first minute of the half.

Whitman launched a 9-0 run over the next six minutes and led 14-4 with 14:25 remaining following a Josh Duckworth fadeaway jump shot. The run was highlighted by an emphatic put-back dunk by the Martin, who slammed the ball through the hoop with an exclamation point.

Linfield went on a run of its own, scoring seven unanswered points. A long 3-pointer by Ryan Potter (So., Molalla, Ore.) brought the Wildcats to within seven, 21-14.

Oti settled down and scored back-to-back layups and in the blink of an eye, the Missionaries were back in front by 15, their largest lead of the half with 5:50 to go.

At the break, Whitman led 38-21, thanks in part to a relentless full-court press defense that caused 10 Linfield turnovers. Oti topped all scorers with 13 points and four rebounds. Cody Jurgens was Linfield's top point producer with five going into the halftime locker room.

The second half began like the first as Whitman's Philip Chircu nailed a baseline 3-pointer that increased the Missionaries' lead to 41-21.

Cali restored some energy to the home fans with a deep 3-pointer that pulled the Wildcats within 15. Martin answered on the other end with a layup, but Cali drained another 3-pointer on Linfield's next possession.

The Missionaries (9-5, 4-1 NWC) coasted the rest of the way, keeping most of their starters on the bench for the majority of the half.

Potter made a nice move around a defender and slipped his way to the basket for an easy layup as the shot clock was winding down with 11:40 left which sliced the lead to 14. But with 10:51 to go, Martin hit a momentum-breaking 3-pointer and that pushed the margin to 59-40.

Both teams traded baskets and free throws towards the end and the Missionaries won by a comfortable 20-point margin.

Linfield finished with 19 turnovers compared to Whitman's 11. Whitman also outrebounded the Wildcats by seven, 35-28. Brill led Linfield with six rebounds and Jurgens had four off the bench. Mason Rodby (So., Redmond, Ore.) scored seven points and snared two rebounds before fouling out.

AHEAD: Linfield (2-12, 0-5 NWC) hosts defending the NWC champion Whitworth Pirates Saturday at Ted Wilson Gymnasium. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. with live webcast coverage starting at 7:50.

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Tanner Brill
First-year guard bags 10 points, 6 rebounds 2 steals

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Kelly Bird
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