Wildcats cut down by Loggers in close game

Joe Stuart, Staff Writer

The Wildcats men’s basketball team was not able to cause on upset on Friday, losing their third straight game.

The Linfield Wildcats (10-13, 4-10) had lost two straight on the road and were not able to turn it around back home in front of raucous student section, barely falling to the University of Puget Sound Loggers (13-10, 8-6) in a 71-68 thriller.

After initially going down 6-0 thanks to two quick three-pointers made by UPS guard Matt Reid, Linfield went on 13-0 run, getting them to one of their best starts of the season.

The Loggers then battled back, but only led 35-34 at halftime. Following the break, the two teams would battle back and forth for most of the half, creating two ties and six lead changes.

At around the 12-minute mark of the second half, UPS gained control of the game, which they would lead for most of the remainder of the night.

They were led by Carlos Mancasola, who scored 22 points on six for 11 shooting, including five for seven on three-pointers.

With three minutes left, Linfield center Mason Rodby (’17) hit a pair of free throws to tie the score at 66. Rodby would lead the Wildcats with 13 points on four for seven shooting in his first appearance in three games due to injury.

The tie would be broken by Mancasola, who hit his fifth three-pointer of the night to put his team up 69-66 with a minute and a half left.

The Wildcats would not be able to answer back, missing all their field goals in the final two minutes. Guard Kyle Maloof (’17) went to the free throw line with 37 seconds left, but only would hit one to make the score 67-69.

Although Linfield played tight defense, Loggers’ guard Kohl Meyer drove through the lane and hit the dagger with nine seconds left, putting his team up by two possessions.

Besides Rodby, Linfield had three other scorers with at least 10 points. Maloof had 10, guard Austin Murray (’18) had 11 points and seven rebounds, and guard Vince Romeo (’19) had 12, all off of three-pointers.

The final of the Wildcats’ loss reflected a common issue for Linfield this season, as a team that has struggled to finish games.

Many times this season Linfield has been in big holes at halftime, battled back in the second half, but still lost by a few points.

In many other cases, Linfield has been in close games midway through but has collapsed in the second half, resulting in lopsided losses.

Despite this, the ’Cats have been able to put together a 10-13 record late in the year, on pace for their best record since the 2009-2010 season. This season has been a major improvement in every aspect compared to Linfield men’s basketball teams in the last five years.

Linfield wraps their season up next weekend with home games in Ted Wilson Gymnasium. Friday’s game the Pacific University Boxers come to town. The season finale will feature Linfield taking on the George Fox University Bruins on Saturday.