WU's second-half rally falls short at Linfield

McMINNVILLE — Linfield’s Jeff Dunn made seven three-point shots en route to 26 first-half points as the Wildcats built a 50-27 halftime lead, and the hosts hung on down the stretch to hand Willamette an 83-71 Northwest Conference loss at Ted Wilson Gym.

The Bearcats out-scored Linfield 23-9 in the opening minutes of the second half to draw within 59-50. WU twice got within eight points in the final five minutes, but could get no closer.

With the win, Linfield improved to 13-7 overall and 6-5 in the conference, while Willamette fell to 13-5 and 7-3, respectively.

Dunn finished with 33 points and fellow Wildcat Nick Fusare, a 6-foot, 11-inch center, ended up with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Willamette was paced by junior wing Miles Sandgathe, who scored 16 of his team-high 20 points in the second half. He also had seven rebounds. Senior post Marques Johnson had 13 points and 12 rebounds, while senior point guard Ryan Hepp finished with 13 points and four assists.

Bearcat starting post Brennan Garrelts, a 6-7 freshman, sprained an ankle in the first two minutes of the game and did not return. In his place, junior Ryan Rahlfs contributed 13 points on 5 of 6 shooting from the floor.

Linfield out-shot Willamette on the night, 50.0 percent to 44.4 percent, and shot 58.1 percent in the first half.

The Bearcats return home to Cone Field House Saturday night when they take on Lewis & Clark in a 8 p.m. NWC contest.