LAS VEGAS, Nev. – If any doubt remained as to Linfield's ability to defeat a quality, playoff-worthy opponent, it was erased Saturday night at South Point Arena.
A wire-to-wire victory over one of last season's NCAA Division III semifinalists confirmed that as Linfield blasted Ramapo (N.J.) 83-65 on the final day of action at the D3hoops.com Classic.
Ramapo (10-3) reached the Division III Final Four just nine months ago, falling to Wisconsin-Oshkosh in the national semifinals.
With their third straight win and sixth in seven outings, the Wildcats improved to 9-2 for the season.
Linfield by the numbers
Grant Gibb connected on five three-pointers on the way 19 points, and Riley Bruil and Dempsey Roggenbuck each added 15 points.
Fellow starters Liam O'Reilly and Will Burghardt both added nine points in support and Austin Hilton came off the bench to tally eight points, six rebounds and four assists in 19 minutes of action.
Linfield hit 16 threes in the game. In addition to Gibb's five long bombs, Bruil chipped in with five threes while Roggenbuck and Burghardt both added a pair.
O'Reilly swept the backboards to the tune of nine rebounds and two blocked shots. Burghardt and Bruil each had four of the Wildcats' 21 assists on the night.
Kashaun Barnes scored 21 of his game-high 35 points in the first half but the talented Roadrunners post had little support in the scoring department with only Rob Lewis reaching double digits with 11 points.
Linfield held Ramapo to 22 percent shooting from outside the three-point arc, including a 2-for-9 effort in the second half as the Wildcats were pulling away.
Linfield started strong, building leads as large as 11 points during the opening period and led a 41-33 advantage at the intermission. Grant Gibb led the way with 12 first-half points.
Ramapo was paced early on by Barnes' 21 points and Lewis' 10 rebounds. Barnes worked his way free for eight field goals on 12 attempts, including a buzzer-beating three-pointer as time expired in the half.
The Wildcats shot 37.3 percent from the floor in the game's initial 20 minutes, just slightly better than the Roadrunners' 33.3 percent.
Though Ramapo trimmed the Linfield lead to two points after a bucket by Barnes three minutes into the second half, the Wildcats didn't relent. Roggenbuck and Bruil each accounted for nine points in the period and the 'Cats converted 7 of 18 shots from three-point range to win going away.
A three-pointer by Aaron Baune with 13:54 to play pushed the margin back to double digits, 53-42, and Linfield was never threatened after that.
The 'Cats also forced 10 Ramapo turnovers after intermission as Bruil and Liam O'Reilly each contributed a pair of steals.
Linfield improved its series record against Ramapo to 2-0, having also defeated the Roadrunners 79-65 during the Cactus Jam at Phoenix, Arizona. . . that season, the Wildcats went 21-6 and reached the second round of the NCAA playoffs.
Linfield resumes Northwest Conference play Friday, Jan. 4, when the 'Cats visit Willamette for an 8 p.m. contest. On Saturday, Linfield hosts Puget Sound in another conference counter starting at 6 p.m.