PORTLAND, Ore. – Playing well in spurts but not often enough to get over the hump, the Linfield Wildcats absorbed a disappointing 62-59 Northwest Conference defeat at the hands of Lewis & Clark Friday night at Pamplin Sports Complex.
Lewis & Clark overcame an atrocious night at the free throw line to pull out the victory, though the Pioneers’ 5-for-18 performance from the stripe nearly giftwrapped a Wildcats’ comeback in the waning minutes.
Linfield stars Zach Anderson and Andrew Batiuk paired for 44 points and 16 rebounds, but the Wildcats committed 15 turnovers and were outrebounded by a 44-36 margin, including a 14-4 edge on the offensive glass.
Linfield was in control for much of the first half. The Wildcats built early leads of 12-6 and 19-13 through the game’s opening nine minutes. Lewis & Clark took its only lead of the half after Donato Perconti swished a 3-pointer with two seconds in the period to give the hosts a narrow 31-30 halftime edge.
Batiuk hit six of his first 11 shots and led all scorers at the break with 13 points. Anderson added 10 points in the period on 4-of-8 shooting. Linfield shot .448 to L&C’s .387.
The Pioneers surged to a five-point lead in the opening minutes of the second half and led 49-45 with just over nine minutes to play.
Linfield scratched its way back, taking a one-point lead, 50-49, on Anderson’s bucket off the glass with 6:19 to play. The lead was momentary, as the hosts scored the game’s next six points over a 1:30 span.
James Hollins extended the Pios’ lead to nine on a 3-pointer with 1:28 to go and L&C led 61-52.
Anderson made it a four-point spread, converting a jumper and a coffin-corner 3-pointer to keep the Wildcats in contention. Three missed free throws in the final minute by the Pioneers gave Linfield the opening it was looking for but the ‘Cats couldn’t cash in. Anderson worked his way for an uncontested layup with 25 seconds to go that made it 61-59 but that was as close as the ‘Cats would come.
Leading by three with 17 seconds to go, L&C’s P.J. Taylor made just 1-of-2 at the line. The Wildcats pressed the ball up the floor and after a timeout, Batiuk’s attempt to tie from long range was short as time expired.
Hollins led the Pioneers with 13 points and seven rebounds. Ross Erickson added 11 points and a dozen rebounds and Caron Rayford came off the bench with 10 points and nine boards.
Zach Meikle had seven points and three rebounds and David Lee contributed six points, four rebounds and three assists for the Wildcats.
Lewis & Clark evened its record at 6-6 overall and 2-2 in NWC action. Linfield fell to 2-10 and remained winless in the NWC at 0-3.
COMING UP: Linfield returns home Saturday night to battle the Willamette Bearcats at 8 p.m. Live play-by-play coverage starts at approximately 7:50 on www.linfield.edu/sports.
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