Recap | Box Score
MBSK: GEORGE FOX 92, PAC LUTHERAN 67: Hot-Handed Bruins Pull Away from Lutes
NEWBERG, Ore. - With a chance to pull into a third-place tie in the Northwest Conference race on the line, the George Fox University Bruins responded with their most impressive victory of the season by cooling off the surprising Pacific Lutheran University Lutes 92-67 in men's basketball action Saturday night here at the Wheeler Sports Center's Miller Gym.
Pacific Lutheran, which was picked to finished last in the conference in the pre-season coaches' poll, has been one of the big surprises in the early portion of NWC play, going 5-2 until Saturday and establishing the Lutes as serious contenders for one of the four berths in the conference tournament. The Lutes opened the game as if they intended to distance themselves from the Bruins, who were only a game back, by scoring the fist seven points on jumpers by Kyle MacTaggart and Tony Polis and a three-pointer by James Conti.
The Bruins finally got on the board with a rebound basket by Alex Stockner and a three by Dan Lingenfelder, and took their first lead of 10-9 on a Rich Smith layup with 15:19 to go in the half. A 7-2 burst by PLU, capped by a MacTaggart three, gave the Lutes a 16-12 lead at the 12:37 mark, but Stephen Wiseley assisted on a three by Evan Atwater and scored on a jumper himself to give the Bruins a lead they would not relinquish at 17-16 with 11:15 remaining.
The Bruins extended their lead to as many as nine points three times in the period, only to see the Lutes close within two points once and four points once. A layup by Cole Whitehurst and a trey by Wiseley late in the half gave the Bruins a 45-36 nine-point bulge at the break.
Atwater led all scorers with 12 at the half while MacTaggart paced PLU with 10, but the Lutes' leading scorer (15.8 ppg coming in), who had 31 in a win at Willamette Friday, would not score again as the Bruins equaled their season's best defensive effort in terms of points allowed. After the Lutes shot .500 (14-28) in the first half, the George Fox defense tightened up and held the visitors to almost half that, a .259 mark (7-27) in the final 20 minutes.
Lingenfelder hit his third three of the game to open the second half and give George Fox a 12-point cushion at 48-36, and the lead would remain in double digits to the end of the game. The Bruins gradually stretched their advantage to a 20-point margin at 9:51 when Grant Vahalla's layup made it 67-46. Their largest lead was 31 points at 88-57 on a Jon Adrian jumper with 2:29 to play.
Atwater finished with 17 points for the Bruins to lead all scorers, Wiseley added 13 with five assists, and Whitehurst chipped in with 10. The bench contributed 43 points to the effort for the Bruins, who shot .508 (31-61) from the field, including .600 (12-20) from three-point range, and .818 (18-22) from the line. Smith hauled down 15 boards as the home team held a huge 44-26 advantage on the glass. Jack Martin had a game-high six assists.
MacTaggart was the only Lute in twin digits in points and also had a team-high nine rebounds. PLU shot .382 (21-55) from the floor, .400 (6-15) from long range, and .731 (19-26) from the charity stripe. Conti passed out three assists.
NOTES: George Fox (8-9, NWC 5-3) and Pacific Lutheran (7-8, NWC 5-3) are now deadlocked in the third spot in the conference standings, with Lewis & Clark College a game behind ... George Fox opens the second half of conference play Tuesday at Pacific University, while Pacific Lutheran hosts Linfield College Friday ... Both games are at 8:00 p.m. with NWC women's games beforehand at 6:00 p.m.