Linfield Limits Willamette to 35.6% Shooting in 61-47 Win for Wildcats

Brendon McCullough (Sr., G, San Antonio, TX/Home Schooled)
Brendon McCullough (Sr., G, San Antonio, TX/Home Schooled)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

SALEM, Ore. -- Linfield College held Willamette University to 35.6% shooting for the game, including 26.1% in the first half, as the Wildcats defeated the Bearcats, 61-47, on Tuesday, Jan. 30 at Cone Field House. The Wildcats, who placed four players in double figures, improved to 14-5 on the season, 8-3 in the Northwest Conference. Willamette dropped to 9-11 overall, 4-7 in the NWC. The Bearcats' two lowest scoring games of the season have been against the Wildcats. WU lost at Linfield 65-49 on Jan. 3.

Although the Wildcats limited most of WU's offensive efforts on Tuesday, Linfield was unable to prevent Jordan Jenkins (Jr., F, Placentia, CAValencia HS) and Brendon McCullough (Sr., G, San Antonio, TX/Home Schooled) from being the game's top two scorers. Jenkins hit 6 of 8 field goals on his way to a game-high 19 points. Jenkins also registered eight rebounds. McCullough was successful on 6 of 10 shots, including 3 of 6 on 3-pointers, as he ended the night with 17 points. 

For the game, Willamette connected on just 16 of 45 shots after hitting only 6 of 23 shots in the first half. The Bearcats trailed Linfield 33-19 at hafltime, but matched the Wildcats over the final 20 minutes, when each team scored 28 points.

Tyler Watts topped Linfield with 13 points and was 5 for 6 from the field. He also grabbed seven rebounds. Dempsey Roggenbuck and Austin Hilton each chipped in 12 points, while Jordan Clark scored 11 points. Clark tied Jenkins of Willamette for game-high rebounding honors with eight boards.

The Wildcats shot 48.9% from the field (23 of 47), including 14 of 25 shots in the first half (56.0%). WU shot 45.5% in the second half (10 of 22), while Liinfield shot 40.0% (9 of 22). Both teams struggled from 3-point range during the game, as the Bearcats converted only 5 of 20 three-point shots, while Linfield hit just 3 of 14.

Linfield surged out to an early lead, scoring the game's first eight points on its way to a 12-3 advantage. Roggenbuck sank two 3-pointers during Linfield's run.

WU cut the margin to 12-6 on McCullough's second 3-pointer of the game, but the Wildcats countered with a layup by Riley Bruil for a 14-6 lead with 12:13 remaining in the half. Willamtte reduced the lead to six points three more times, including 18-12 following two free throws by Jenkins with 8:43 to go. Linfield tallied the next six points on a jumper by Roggenbuck, a layup by Clark and a jumper by Marcus Lord for a 24-12 edge at the 5:02 mark.

The Bearcats pulled as close as 24-17 on a 3-pointer by Casey Thornton (Sr., W, Santa Rosa, CA/Maria Carrillo HS) about a minute later, and were within 26-19 on two free throws by McCullough with 3:21 left. Linfield closed the half with a 7-0 run on a traditional three-point play by Liam O'Reilly, two free throws by Troy Arce and a layup by Clark.

Despite starting the second half with a 14-point lead, the Wildcats never led by more than 18 points in the second half. The 18-point margin was earned at the end of a short 4-0 spurt that created a 54-36 advantage for the Wildcats with 8:21 left. Likewise, Willamette had difficulty cutting into Linfield's lead. The Bearcats trailed by just 11 points, 37-26, after a layup by Nathan Sherfey (Sr., F, Chehalis, WAW.F. West HS) with 17:13 to go, but never got closer.

Watts responded by hitting a 3-pointer for the Wildcats with 16:05 remaining, but Jenkins added a layup for WU 10 seconds later to pull the Bearcats as close as 40-28. Willamette cut the margin to 12 points two more times before the 14-minute mark. Linfield earned the next three points on a layup by Hilton and a free throw by O'Reilly for a 47-32 lead with 13:04 left.

Linfield forced Willamette into 18 turnovers, while the Wildcats lost possession 14 times. The Wildcats outscored the Bearcats 18-9 in points off turnovers. Willamette achieved an 11-7 lead in second-chance points.

The Bearcats will travel to Tacoma, Washington, to take on University of Puget Sound on Friday, Feb. 2. Game time is set for 8 p.m. (PST).