Willamette Stays Close after Slow Start, but Linfield Surges Late for 100-93 Win

Jordan Jenkins (Sr., F, Placentia, CA/Valencia HS)
Jordan Jenkins (Sr., F, Placentia, CA/Valencia HS)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

SALEM, Ore. -- Linfield College led by 15 points less than nine minutes into the game, but a feisty effort by Willamette University kept the Bearcats within striking distance for most of the night, until the Wildcats went on a late 19-8 run on their way to a 100-93 win in Northwest Conference men's basketball action at Cone Field House on Friday, Jan. 4. Linfield improved to 10-2 overall and to 3-0 in the NWC. Willamette slipped to 2-9 overall, 0-3 in the NWC.

The teams were tied at 10-10 with 13:33 left in the first quarter, but Linfield's offensive surge gave the Wildcats a 25-10 margin at the 9:37 mark. Willamette fought back to within 41-37 at halftime, trailed by just three points with 12:31 remaining in the game at 57-54, and were behind by only five points at 75-70 with 7:39 to go. That's when the Wildcats put together their decisive run for a 94-78 lead with 2:59 remaining.

"We've got a great group of fighters who played to the wire against a great opponent," Willamette Head Coach Kip Ioane said. "Out downfall was nearly 30 points surrendered in transition."

Linfield earned a 28-18 advantage in fast-break points, including 19 in the first half. Dempsey Roggenbuck paced the Wildcats with a game-high 34 points -- 17 in each half. He connected on 12 of 17 field goals, including 3 of 4 shots from 3-point range. Roggenbuck was 7 for 8 at the free throw line. Many of his points in the first half and late in the game were scored on fast breaks.

Three other players supplied Linfield with double figures on the scoreboard. Liam O'Reilly sank 7 of 10 field goals on his way to 18 points. He also earned five rebounds and four assists. Grant Gibb and Tanner Autencio each accumulated 10 points.

Jordan Jenkins (Sr., F, Placentia, CAValencia HS) was Willamette's top scorer in the game with 20 points. He recorded game-highs with 11 rebounds and four steals. He also contributed two assists. Jonathan Watts (Fr., G, San Diego, CA/Rancho Bernardo HS) provided the Bearcats with 17 points and six boards. Trent Callan (Sr., G, Portland, OR/Lincoln HS) chipped in 15 points to go along with four rebounds and three assists. 

Jenkins has scored 20 or more points in seven games this season. He has contributed 10 or more points in all 11 games. He has registered 10 or more rebounds in six games, including each of the last four contests.

Also reaching double digits for WU were Caleb Roberts (Sr., W, Salem, OR/North HS) and Justus Eaglesmith (So., G, Sparks NV/Spanish Springs HS). Roberts tallied 13 points and was successful on 4 of 8 three-point shots. Eaglesmith produced 12 points, while making 4 of 7 field goals. Callan earned a trio of 3-pointers, while Watts and Eaglesmith each hit from long-range twice. The Bearcats shot 45.3% overall (29 of 64) and were 12 of 28 (42.9%) from 3-point range. The Bearcats claimed a 41-27 rebounding margin, including a 15-6 edge on the offensive glass.

Linfield shot 54.7% overall (35 of 64) and made 8 of 19 three-pointers (42.1%). Both team excelled at the free throw line, where Willamette was 23 of 26 (88.5%) and Linfield went 22 of 27 (81.5%).

The big run by the Wildcats in the first half included six points by Autencio, four by Roggenbuck and two from Max Lommen. O'Reilly tallied the final three points of the 15-point run on a long-range shot. WU reduced the margin to 28-18 on a 3-pointer by Eaglesmith with 5:59 remaining in the half. Linfield scored the next four points, but the Bearcats were within 37-31 after Eaglesmith sank another 3-pointer with 2:09 left. The Bearcats cut the lead to four points twice in the final minute of the half, including 41-37 on two free throws by Alec Barba (So., W, Dallas, OR/Central HS) with two seconds on the clock.

In the second half, Linfield grabbed a 57-47 lead with 14:14 to play when Roggenbuck sank a layup. WU continued to battle and reduced the margin to 57-54 on a traditional three-point play by Jenkins at the 12:31 mark. The Wildcats took a 12-point lead at 70-58 on a layup by Lommen with 10:37 remaining, but the Bearcats pulled as close as 75-70 on a jumper by Watts with 7:39 left. Linfield followed with its 19-8 run, which included points from six players. Roggenbuck and O'Reilly each produced five points during the run.

Willamette will return to action on Saturday, Jan. 5 with an NWC game at Pacific Lutheran University. Game time in Tacoma, Washington, is set for 6 p.m. (PST).

Jordan Jenkins (Sr., F, Placentia, CA/Valencia HS)

Big Moment of the Game for Willamette

Jordan Jenkins grabbed a defensive rebound, went quickly down
the court, and scored on a jump shot with 12:31 left in the game.
He was fouled while taking the shot, and sank the free throw to
complete a traditional three-point play. The basket and foul shot
pulled Willamette within 57-54. Jenkins scored 20 points in the game.
He has scored at least 20 points seven times this season.