McMINNVILLE, Ore. – After trailing by 20 points entering halftime against Puget Sound, Linfield nearly pulled off a monster comeback in the second half, closing the gap to five points. The Loggers hit key free throws down the stretch, however, to win the Northwest Conference matchup 76-69 Friday night inside Ted Wilson Gymnasium.
Holding a 16-point lead with 8:14 left in the second half, the Loggers (10-8, 6-3 NWC) deployed their bench. Linfield (3-16, 1-9 NWC) switched defensive tactics at that point, and started to play full-court pressure. Rattling the opposition, the ‘Cats came up with key steals and buckets to cut the lead down to 64-59 with 4:14 remaining in the game.
But despite Linfield's late surge, highlighted by late 3-pointers from Ryan Potter (Fr., Molalla, Ore.) and Jackson Gion (Fr., Morgan Hill, Calif.), the Loggers eventually saw the game out by making good on several layups and cashing in at the charity stripe.
After a close contest that saw Linfield only trailing by two with 5:53 remaining in the first half, Puget Sound's James Osorio and his squad caught fire, scoring 18 unanswered points to end the opening period up 46-26. Osorio had 19 first-half points, 15 coming off of 3-pointers.
Nearly shut out in the second half, Osorio finished with a game-high 21 points while teammate Erin Barber pumped in 17. Linfield had two players in double figures, Potter and Chris Dirks (Jr., Hood River, Ore.), each with 14. The Wildcats outscored Puget Sound 43-30 in the second, but it was not enough.
The Loggers came out red hot, making five of their first six field goal attempts to outscore the Wildcats 10-5 in the opening minutes. But Linfield kept on fighting.
Dirks and Potter each had back-to-back put-back buckets to cut the lead to 16-11 with 13:30 left on the clock.
Linfield stayed close, and came to within two points when Vinnie Toor (Jr., Fremont, Calif.) knocked down a long-range 3-pointer. Those were the final three points of the half for Linfield, however, as the Loggers got three consecutive treys from Osario as part of a game-changing 18-0 run.
Each starter on the Wildcats scored at least three points by the break, with Potter leading the pack with six.
The ‘Cats came close in the second half, twice pulling to within five points of Puget Sound. The first came on Dirk's layup with 4:21 to go, and the second after consecutive 3-pointers from Tanner Brill (Fr., Longview, Wash.) and Gion with 10 seconds on the clock.
Barber and Osario proved clutch at the line, however, combining to hit 4-of-4 free throws in the final 15 seconds of action.
The Loggers finished with 36 rebounds, seven more than the Wildcats. They also made nine more free throws than Linfield, hitting 20-of-29 attempts compared to Linfield's 11-for-15 effort from the line.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Potter redeemed himself against the Loggers, shooting 5-for-13 from the field after going 0-for-10 in the first matchup between the two clubs…the Loggers won their second straight game against the Wildcats…Linfield committed just seven turnovers on the night while forcing 10 Puget Sound miscues.
AHEAD: Linfield have a week off before traveling to Portland to take on the Lewis and Clark Pioneers Friday, Feb. 7 at the Pamplin Sports Center. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.
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