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GEORGE FOX 117, WILLAMETTE 100: Whitehurst and Taylor Pace Bruins by Bearcats
NEWBERG, Ore. – Cole Whitehurst scored 35 points and Mike Taylor posted the first George Fox University triple-double in 19 years as the Bruins won an offensive shootout 117-100 over the Willamette University Bearcats in Northwest Conference men’s basketball action Tuesday night here at the Wheeler Sports Center’s Miller Gym.
Whitehurst hit 13-17 from the field and 8-11 from the line en route to 23 first-half points and 12 in the second half, posting a career high and the 21st game of 35 or more by a Bruin player in the program’s 107 years. Taylor collected 18 points, 15 rebounds, and 11 assists for the 10th triple-double in George Fox history and the first since Dave Wilson had 21 points, 12 rebounds, and 13 blocked shots at Northwest Christian University on Nov. 19, 1992.
The Bruins’ 117 points was their highest total in a game since a 120-87 win at Southern Oregon University on Feb. 13, 1993. For most of the game, the Bruins’ field goal percentage hovered near 75 percent, finally settling at .694 (43-62), just short of the record .714 percentage (40-56) vs. Columbia Christian College on Jan. 29, 1982.
George Fox scored the first two baskets of the game on a three-pointer and a layup by Stephen Wiseley and never trailed in the first half, though Willamette did manage four ties. The Bruins used a 15-6 run to break a 9-9 tie and take a nine-point lead at 24-15 on a Taylor layup with 13:10 to go in the half. Whitehurst and Rich Smith scored six points apiece during that stretch.
Willamette answered with a 9-0 run to tie it 24-24 with 11 minutes left, Ryan Meehan scoring seven of them on a layup, two free throws, and a three. The Bruins went back up by five three times before the final tie of the half at 40-40, then used a 15-5 burst to take their largest lead of 55-45 with a minute left, Whitehurst’s three capping the rally. A Robbie Kunke layup for the Bearcats with eight ticks to go cut the George Fox lead to 55-47 at the break.
The Bearcats scored the first eight points of the second half on a three by Mounts and two baskets and a free throw by Terrell Malley, knotting the game 55-55. Again the Bruins forged ahead with a 9-1 run to make it 64-56 with 17:13 left, but the Bearcats used threes by Meehan and Mounts around two bombs by Trevor Bos in a 14-6 spurt to tie it 70-70 with 14:52 showing.
For the next four minutes, the game see-sawed back and forth like a pair of punch-drunk fighters too hard-headed to quit. Three times the Bruins jumped ahead, only to have the Bearcats come back to tie before finally taking their first lead of 80-78 with 12:18 left on a jumper by Bos. A short hook by Smith and two Whitehurst free throws put the Bruins back up by two, but Kunke hit a three as the Bearcats regained an 83-82 edge.
Whitehurst’s layup at 10:43 gave the Bruins the lead for good at 84-83, and they began to stretch the lead as the Bearcats’ threes quit falling. Over the next nine minutes, Smith scored nine points and Taylor eight as the Bruins out-scored the Bearcats 33-13, building a 117-96 lead on a free throw by Smith following a Willamette flagrant foul.
In addition to the big games by Whitehurst and Taylor, Smith notched a career-high 28 points, and Wiseley added 20 with seven assists. George Fox was 7-12 (.583) from three-point range, .686 (24-35) on free throws, and held a 35-32 rebound advantage.
Five Bearcats scored in double figures, led by Mounts with 31. Kunke added 20 with four assists, Meehan 18, Malley 12, and Bos 10 plus four assists. Mounts had a team-high seven rebounds. Willamette hit .493 (37-75) from the field, .500 (13-26) from behind the arc, and .684 (13-19) from the stripe.
The Bruins’ win completed a sweep of the season series with the Bearcats while improving their overall record 5-13 overall and NWC slate to 3-6. Willamette, playing without injured Sean Dart, the national field goal percentage leader, fell to 4-14 overall and 1-8 in the league.
NEXT: George Fox hosts Pacific Lutheran University Friday in its only game of the coming weekend, then Willamette welcomes the University of Puget Sound on Saturday. Both games tip off at 8:00 p.m., following NWC women’s games at 6:00 p.m.