Linfield Builds Early Lead, Downs Bearcats, 75-63; Russell Scores 22 Points

Hayden Russell (Sr., W, Woodland, CA/Da Vinci Charter Academy)
Hayden Russell (Sr., W, Woodland, CA/Da Vinci Charter Academy)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

McMINNVILLE, Ore. -- Linfield College took an early lead, held a 15-point margin at halftime and led by as many as 22 points in the second half, before defeating Willamette University, 75-63, in a Northwest Conference men's basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 18.

The Wildcats upped their record to 15-10, including 9-7 in the NWC. Willamette ended its season at 4-21 overall, 2-14 in the NWC.

Kyle Maloof led Linfield with 19 points and was 9 of 15 from the field. He also recorded seven rebound, five assists and two steals. Mason Rodby scored 17 ponts for the Wildcats, whjile hitting 7 of 10 field goals. Jordan Clark finished with 10 points.

Willamette senior Hayden Russell (W, Woodland, CA/Da Vinci Charter Academy) topped the Bearcats by tying a career-high with 22 points, matching his total against Georege Fox University on Jan. 13.

Russell hit 6 of 12 shots from the field and was 5 of 10 from 3-point range. Jordan Jenkins (So., F, Placentia, CA/Valencia HS) added 15 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two blocks and two steals. Johnny Verduin (Sr./So., F, Seattle, WA/Ballard HS) scored 10 points and was 5 for 9 from the field.

Linfield put in the first five points of the game and held a 9-2 lead at the 16:15 mark following a jumper by Maloof. Seven of the nine points were recorded by Maloof.

The Bearcats scored next on a pair of free throws by Jordan Jenkins (So., F, Placentia, CA/Valencia HS), but the Wildcats answered with five consecutive points to start a 12-1 run for a 21-5 lead with 10:01 left in the half. The Wildcats eventually held a 34-9 advantage with 5:28 on the clock.

WU's offense began to click and the Bearcats ended the half with a 14-4 run. Russell keyed the run by hitting a pair of 3-pointers and assisting on a 3-pointer by Nathan Sherfey.

The trifecta by Sherfey cut the lead to 37-21 with 1:55 remaining. After Austin Hilton sank 1 of 2 free throws for Linfeld, Jenkins made two free throws for Willamette with 3.7 seconds on the clock to complete the scoring in the first half.

Maloof led all scorers at halftime with 13 points. Rodby had seven points for the Wildcats. Russell produced eight points and Jenkins scored seven points for the Bearcats.

Willamette fell behind 50-30 after Linfield started the second half with a 12-7 run. Neither teams had a big surge again, until the Bearcats used a 10-2 run to pull within 68-54 with 2:57 left.

The run by the Bearcats began with a 3-point basket by Russell, who also completed the run with a traditional three-point play on a basket and a foul shot. WU got as close as 11 points at 69-58 on a basket by Trent Callan at the 2:00 mark as the run reached 14-3.

Linfield shot 5t4.4% for the game, as the Wildcats sank 31 of 57 shots. Willamette made 20 of 46 shots (43.5%) overall, but connected on 15 of 26 shots (57.7%) in the second half. Linfield earned a 33-27 rebounding edge.