By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
McMINNVILLE, Ore. -- Willamette University placed five players in double figures, led by Justus Eaglesmith (So., G, Sparks, NV/Spanish Springs HS) with 14 points, but Linfield College went on a 25-9 run late in the first half for a nine-point lead and went on to an 82-69 win over the Bearcats on Saturday, Feb. 2. The Bearcats trailed by just four points, 54-50, with 13:18 left in the game, before Linfield added a 14-6 run to increase the margin to 68-56 with 7:34 remaining.
The Wildcats advanced their record to 15-6, including 8-4 in the Northwest Conference. Willamette slipped to 7-14 on the season, 4-8 in the NWC.
Eaglesmith converted a team-high four 3-point shots in his way to 14 points. Jordan Jenkins (Sr., F, Placentia, CA/Valencia HS) scored 13 points for the Bearcats, moving his career total to 996 points. Jenkins also grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds, earned three assists and blocked a shot.
Alec Barba (So., W, Dallas, OR/Central HS) registered 11 points for Willamette, including three 3-pointers. One of his 3-pointers led to a four-point play, as he was fouled and added the free throw. Jonathan Watts (Fr., G, San Diego, CA/Rancho Bernardo HS) tacked on 10 points and hit two 3-pointers. Ben Sutton (So., F, Seattle, WA/Ingraham HS) also finished with 10 points. Sutton led the Bearcats with three blocked shots
Trent Callan (Sr., G, Portland, OR/Lincoln HS) provided WU with nine points. He also contributed five boards and six assists.
"Give credit to Linfield. Their defense kept us off balance most of the game," Willamette Head Coach Kip Ioane commented. "We had three spurts where we were in rhythm and comfortable, but ultimately we needed one more run to get over the hump."
Linfield was led by Negasi Hart with 16 points. Grant Gibb produced 11 points and sank three 3-point shots, all during the second half. Dempsey Roggenbuck tallied 10 points, while Austin Hilton recorded eight points and topped LC with seven rebounds. Hilton earned six of his points in the second half before fouling out with 6:19 on the clock.
Three-pointers by Watts, Eaglesmith and Barba helped the Bearcats build an 11-7 lead with 16:18 left in the first half. Later, Barba hit another 3-pointer to give Willamette a 16-10 edge. Jenkins added a rebound and a layup in one motion to extend the margin to 18-10 with 12:50 on the clock. Linfield pulled within 18-16 following a free throw by Max Lomman at the 10:37 mark, but a layup from Sutton and a 3-pointer by Jenkins gave WU a 23-16 lead with 9:07 left.
Linfield scored 14 of the next 18 points, including traditional three-point plays by Roggenbuck and Liam O'Reilly to take a 30-27 lead. After the run, Barba sank a free throw for Willamette with 4:14 to go. The Wildcats responded with an 11-4 offensive surge to end the half, while completing Linfield's overall run at 25-9.
Willamette opened the second half with a 3-pointer by Watts to start a 10-4 run that cut the Bearcats' deficit to 45-42 with 18:22 remaining. The run also featured Barba's four-point play and a 3-point basket by Eaglesmith. Linfield increased its lead to 49-42 following two scores by Hilton near the basket, but WU responded by eventually pulling within 54-50 on a layup by Sutton.
Gibb registered back-to-back 3-pointers for the Wildcats to give Linfield a 60-50 lead with 10:54 left. The Bearcats rallied to reduce the margin to 63-56 on a 3-pointer from the corner by Eaglesmith. Two free throws by Gibb plus a layup and foul shot by Bruil upped Linfield's advantage to 67-56 with 7:34 to play.
Linfield shot 44.1% from the field (30 of 68) and had 10 more attempts than Willamette. The Bearcats connected on 41.4% of their shots (24 of 58), including and 10 of 26 on 3-pointers (38.5%). The Wildcats sank 14 of 18 free throws (77.8%), while the Bearcats hit 11 of 16 (68.8%). Linfield registered a 39-34 rebounding edge.
Willamette will host Pacific University in NWC action on Tuesday, Feb. 5. Game time at Cone Field House is scheduled for 8 p.m. (PST).
Big Moment of the Game for Willamette
Justus Eaglesmith, Alec Barba and Jonathan Watts combined for
nine of the Willamette's 10 three-point baskets against the Wildcats.
All three players hit a 3-pointer early in each half, but the Big Moment
goes to Eaglesmith for his 3-point basket that finished a 10-4 run and
pulled the Bearcats as close as 45-42 with 18:22 left in the game.
Eaglesmith leads WU with 52 three-pointers on the season.