Linfield Wildcats
February 16, 2017
Playoff spot on the line in final weekend
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With their playoff hopes hanging in the balance, the Linfield Wildcats (13-10, 7-7 Northwest Conference) find themselves facing the biggest weekend of the season. First up is Friday night's battle for fourth place between Linfield and Pacific Lutheran (12-12, 7-8 NWC). The Lutes will honor their seniors while also playing in the final game of their regular season. The following day, Linfield returns home for the final time in 2017 to take on Willamette (4-19, 2-12 NWC).
Live Audio:
For coverage of Friday's contest, listen to the Linfield Sports Network beginning at 7:45 p.m.
Live Video: PLU will supply live video coverage via Stretch Internet on Friday night. For coverage of Saturday's contest, tune into the Linfield Sports Network. Pregame starts at 5:45 p.m. with Joe Stuart handling the play-by-play. A special pre-game ceremony will honor the careers of the three Wildcat seniors.
The Matchup

Heading into the final weekend of the regular season, Linfield can guarantee itself a playoff berth by winning both of its games. If Linfield were to drop to 1-1, there are numerous tiebreaker scenarios that can play out depending on results from around the NWC. The easiest way to put it is: Win and you're in. The ‘Cats meet the Lutes Friday night and a must-win game for PLU. With their backs against the walls, the Lutes are already in a playoff-like situation. In the two team's first meeting, PLU came to McMinnville on a three-game losing streak. After sounding beating the ‘Cats 67-54, the Lutes went on to win four games in a row to save their season. The January matchup featured a barrage of three-pointers, tough floaters and a game-high 25 points from Lutes guard Brandon Lester. While Linfield's defense rotated and switched around the perimeter, PLU was unphased by the commotion inside the arc (9-22 from three-point-range). No Wildats found a consistent scoring rhythm in the first meeting. Just two players reached double-digit scoring totals ( Kyle Maloof (Sr., Claremont, Calif.) 11, Vince Romeo (So., Martinez, Calif.) 10) and Linfield struggled to draw fouls and earn trips to the free throw line, drawing just five attempts. NWC Student Athlete of the Week Kyle Maloof (Sr., Claremont, Calif.) looks to continue his recent success and help Linfield return to the NWC playoffs.
The Hot Take
With all of the talk about which teams are in and which are out, the Wildcats can still control their own destiny. If the ‘Cats win both their games this weekend against beatable opponents, the Wildcats can clinch a playoff spot for the first time since the 2009-10 season when Linfield earned a spot in the NWC playoffs but exited after a first round loss to George Fox. Linfield cannot afford a tie in the standings with PLU since the Lutes would own a tiebreaker scenario. The first time around, PLU couldn't miss from the field. The Lutes were taking incredibly difficult shots over Linfield big men, skipped passes over the top of Linfield's zone defense, and didn't turn the ball over. Winning in Tacoma is no easy task and for extra preparation, the Wildcats traveled Thursday morning to get a leg up on Friday's primetime event.
The Matchup

The 2016-17 season has been one to forget for the Willamette Bearcats. Having won only four games and two NWC contests, the Bearcats look to their young core to take the next step in their development over the offseason. With just two seniors on the roster, it isn't surprising to see the Bearcats struggle. Their record is a bit deceiving, though, as the Bearcats can play the role of playoff spoiler this weekend. Willamette has beaten George Fox and Pacific while hanging with teams such as Puget Sound and Whitworth in December. Linfield had a tremendous night shooting the basketball the last time in Salem (31-50, 62 percent) and crushed the Bearcats inside with 42 of their 77 points in the painted area. Jordan Clark (Jr., Antioch, Calif.) had a breakout performance coming off the bench, scoring 18 points and collecting seven rebounds. The Wildcats will likely feed the low post against the young Bearcats in McMinnville.
The Hot Take
This is the final game of the regular season for both teams. Emotions will be high and Ted Wilson Gym will likely have a buzz similar to last Saturday donnybrook with George Fox. Linfield will celebrate the careers of its three seniors, Kyle Maloof (Sr., Claremont, Calif.), Austin Daniels (Sr., Pasadena, Calif.) and Mason Rodby (Sr., Redmond, Ore.). Maloof, a transfer from Rio Hondo College, solidified himself as the team's leading scorer both seasons at Linfield. His ability to play with his back to the basket made him one of the toughest to players defend in the NWC on any night. Daniels transferred from San Bernardino Valley College and has since taken his game to a new level this season. His crafty ability to score amongst the tall posts and orchestrate the offense established him as one of the team's quiet leaders. Rodby is the first four-year player of the Shannon Rosenberg era. Rodby battled injuries off and on for most of his career yet still competed for starting minutes every night. His length as a defender and scoring ability in the low post made him one of the most dynamic big men in the conference throughout his entire career.
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Linfield Sports Communication
Kelly Bird
Director of Sports Information

Linfield College
McMinnville, OR 97128
Phone: 503-883-2439
Katherine Brackmann
Assistant Director - External Relations

Phone: 503-883-2372