MCMINNVILLE, Ore.- The highly-anticipated rematch between Linfield and Whitman did not reflect the teams’ previous encounter, as the Missionaries defeated the Wildcats 87-60 Saturday night at Ted Wilson Gymnasium.
The ‘Cats (4-19, 2-12 NWC) lost their fifth straight contest while the Missionaries (17-6, 10-4 NWC) remained in contention for a Northwest Conference tournament playoff berth.
Tipoff was delayed by more than an hour when the officials arrived late for the 6 p.m. start time.
Whitman all-star David Michaels led all scorers with 17 points but was limited to just 16 minutes because of early foul trouble. Ignas Pavilonis had 14 points and lanky center Ben Eisenhardt posted 12 points to go with six rebounds. Whitman bombarded the ‘Cats from the outside, hitting 13-of-31 3-point attempts and shooting 56 percent overall.
Linfield did its damage on the inside as David Lee scored a team-high 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Lee was joined by Zach Anderson with 11. Andrew Batiuk grabbed nine boards for the ‘Cats, who kept pace with Whitman in the rebounding column throughout the game.
Neither team established clear momentum within the first five minutes of play. The teams traded baskets before Whitman took to a 23-17 advantage on Pavilonis’ 3-pointer with 10:05 left in the period. The Missionaries began to pull away when Michaels scored five consecutive points to jump-start a 7-0 run.
Another three from Pavilonis pushed the Missionaries lead to 12, a healthy margin Whitman protected through the remainder of the half. At the break, Linfield trailed 44-29, shooting a mere 1-of-7 from 3-point range and 44 percent from the field overall.
Whitman was fueled by 17 first-half points from Michaels, the NWC Player of the Week on back-to-back weekeds earlier this season. The Missionaries shot a solid 44 percent from long distance and benefitted from 22 points off the bench.
Much like the first half, the teams took turns sinking buckets to begin the second stanza. By midway through the period, Whitman had built an insurmountable 25-point lead. Linfield reserves took the court to close out the game, battling through the final buzzer.
The ‘Cats ran ice cold from the field in the second period, shooting just 38 percent. Linfield was its own worst enemy at times, sinking just 7-of-13 from the charity stripe in the second half.
AHEAD: The Wildcats travel to Newberg on Friday to take on county rival George Fox at 8 p.m. Linfield seeks to end a five-game NWC losing streak, while the Bruins aim to stay in contention for a playoff spot.
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