McMINNVILLE, Ore. – A team-high 16 points from Matt Mounier helped Whitman to a lopsided 83-58 victory over host Linfield in a Northwest Conference matchup Saturday evening inside Ted Wilson Gymnasium.
Wildcat seniors Dakotah Pine and Zach Meikle and sophomore nursing major Brandon Harris, who will attend Linfield’s Portland campus next year, were honored in a pregame ceremony in recognition of their final career appearances.
Meikle saved his best for last, as the senior turned in a season-best 18 points in his farewell contest. Harris added 10 more points for the ‘Cats, who ended the season at 3-13 in NWC play and 4-21 overall.
Philip Chircu added 11 points and Josh Duckworth added 10 more for Whitman, which outrebounded Linfield 43-34. The ‘Cats were hurt by 25 turnovers, and shot a dismal 32.6 percent from the floor.
Whitman (18-7, 12-4 NWC) wasted no time getting on the board, as the Missionaries scored eight straight points in the opening 1:30. Whitman continued to create open shots from the perimeter, and a long-range look from Ignas Pavilonis put the Missionaries in front 13-4 just four minutes into the game.
Mounier gathered a loose ball and converted a mid-range jumper as the shot clock expired to put the Missionaries up 17-6. An ensuing jumper from Duckworth pushed head coach Larry Doty to burn a timeout.
Linfield struggled to keep up with Whitman’s physical play, as the Missionaries forced 11 Wildcat turnovers in the first 7:30 of play. Harris picked up a loose ball and finished the layup to give the ‘Cats life in the middle of the first, and Meikle added a triple on Linfield’s next possession.
The ‘Cats struggled to convert open looks from the perimeter and could not match Whitman’s consistent scoring through the middle part of the first half.
A pair of free throws from Dominic Lippi with 5:37 remaining put the Missionaries up by 22, and Linfield struggled to make any kind of dent in the deficit for the remainder of the half. By the break, Whitman had built an insurmountable 46-20 lead.
Mounier’s eight points led all scorers in the first, and Harris and Meikle each had six for the ‘Cats. Whitman benefitted from eight second-chance points and 17 points off of Linfield turnovers. Whitman grabbed 19 boards in the first compared with Linfield’s 14.
Mounier kicked off the second stanza with a pair of threes as Whitman picked up right where it left off. Physical play picked up as the game wore on, and frustration began to show as the Missionaries continued to pull further away from the ‘Cats.
Chircu added insult to injury as he threw down a dunk with 13 minutes remaining that gave Whitman a 27-point lead. The Missionaries never looked back, and kept complete control through the final buzzer.
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