Bruins suffer first loss
George Fox sinks to second place in the conference after Whitman defeat
George Fox passed its first test of the weekend, prevailing 59-56 over visiting Whitworth Friday only to set up a showdown with fellow unbeaten Whitman Saturday at Miller Gym.
The clash between the No. 4 Missionaries and the No. 8 Bruins lived up to the billing for the first 35 minutes as the two teams battled back and forth in a game that seem destined for a tense and dramatic finish.
Unfortunately for George Fox, the final five minutes devolved into a nightmare as Whitman went on a 16-2 run to hand the Bruins their first loss of the season and at the same time seize control of the Northwest Conference title hunt.
I think its fair to be disappointed and we are, senior forward Megan Arnoldy said. I think the most important part is that its just going to light a fire in our belly. We knew they were a good team and they fought hard, a little harder than we did in the end. Were excited to see them again.
George Fox, Whitworth and Whitman entered the weekend tied for first place in the conference at 4-0, but the Bruins broke that deadlock in somewhat sloppy fashion Friday night.
Neither team shot the ball particularly well in the first half, which saw the Pirates close on an 8-1 run to pull within two points at 30-28 entering halftime, helped by the fact that GFU missed its last five shots of the half.
The two teams were never more than a handful of points apart for most of the second half, but the Bruins managed to get some breathing room at 55-47 with just under four minutes to play. George Fox again struggled down the stretch, helping the visitors climb to within two points at 58-56 with 22 seconds to play.
Arnoldy pushed the lead to three with a free throw and the Bruins had to survive a potential game-tying three-pointer by K.C. McConnell, but it caught the rim and Arnoldy secured the rebound as time expired.
We were able to make plays and fend them off when we needed to and get stops when we needed to, head coach Michael Meek said.
Fans at Miller Gym were treated to a much more entertaining brand of basketball Saturday, as the two top-10 teams showed why they are both held in such high regard.
George Fox shot the ball much better in the opening 20 minutes, connecting at a 47.8 percent clip, but Whitman dominated the offensive glass to create 15 more shots in the half, making just under 40 percent of those.
Neither team could shake the other in the first half, as Heather Johns scored the final points of the half on a layup that made it 37-36 Bruins at the break.
GFU looked its best in the opening eight minutes of the second half, which concluded with a 13-3 Bruin run to make it 53-46 with 12:23 remaining. But the Missionaries immediately answered with back-to-back buckets, eventually knotting the contest 59-59 following a 13-6 run of their own.
After going up 61-59, the wheels came completely off for George Fox, which missed its final 11 shots. At the other end, forward Meghan White scored six consecutive points, keeping several possessions alive with offensive rebounds, to give control to Whitman.
Suddenly finding themselves behind, the Bruins pressed offensively, but found no success as the Missionaries padded their lead at the free throw line, making eight of 11 attempts.
Jordyn Peacock scored a career-high 17 points to pace George Fox, while point guard Heather Johns powered the Missionaries (15-0, 6-0 NWC) with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
The Bruins (14-1, 5-1) will host Puget Sound Friday.
I think were truly going to find out the character of this team, Meek said. Wed like to think were going to find a way to get tougher and Im excited for that opportunity.