Nov 30, 2010

GEORGE FOX 91, WILLAMETTE 88: Bruins Hold Off Bearcats for NWC-Opening Win

A Winning Tradition

  • 3 NAIA National Tournaments (1973, 1990, 1992)
  • 1 NAIA District Championship (1990)
  • 22 NAIA District Tournaments
  • 3 NAIA Top 25 National Rankings (1990, 1991, 1992)
  • 4 Northwest Conference Tournaments (1997-1998, 2009-2010, 2012-2013, 2016-17)
  • 2 Cascade Conference Tournaments (1994, 1995)
  • 2 NCCAA National Tournaments (1985, 1987)
  • 7 NCCAA Regional Tournaments (1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988)
  • 1 NCCAA National Coach of the Year
  • 3 NAIA District Coaches of the Year
  • 2 Northwest Conference Coaches of the Year
  • 17 All-Americans
  • 3 NBA Draft Picks  

SALEM, Ore.Mike Taylor made a critical steal with 14 seconds left, then hit three free throws in the waning seconds as the George Fox University Bruins held off the Willamette University Bearcats 91-88 in the Northwest Conference men’s basketball opener for both teams Tuesday night here at the Cone Field House.

With the Bruins holding an 88-86 lead, the Bearcats’ Ryan Meehan was driving the lane for a potential tying basket when Taylor stripped the ball away and recovered it, then hit two free tosses for a 90-86 lead with 12 seconds left.  After Marcus Holmes drove the length of the court for a layup to cut the margin to 90-88, Taylor was fouled on the inbounds pass and hit one freebie with five seconds left, and Holmes’ three-point try from 30 feet out at the horn was off to the left, preserving the Bruins’ first win of the season.

Taylor finished with a game-high 28 points, one of three Bruins to score 20 or more.  Rich Smith had a double-double with 24 points and 14 rebounds, and Stephen Wiseley added 21.  Meehan led the Bearcats with 24 points and Holmes had 23.  Sean Dart and Robbie Kunke chipped in with 12 apiece, and Taylor Mounts scored 11.

Willamette scored the first five points of the game on a layup by Dart and a three-pointer by Holmes before the Bruins got on the board with a layup by Smith, who led all scorers with 14 first-half points.  The Bearcats were up 9-4 five minutes into the game when the Bruins exploded for a 12-2 run, taking a 16-11 lead with 11:12 to go in the period.

The Bearcats rallied to take a two-point lead three times, and were ahead 30-29 following a layin by Dart with 3:40.  The Bruins then took control with eight unanswered points over the next 1:40, taking the lead on a layup by Jon Adrian.  Smith added two free throws and a basket, and Taylor capped the run with a jumper.  A rebound basket by Dart just before the buzzer cut the Bruins’ lead to 41-35 at the half.

Smith scored the first basket of the second half as the Bruins pushed the lead back to eight, but the Bearcats went on a 10-2 run to tie it 45-45 on two free tosses by Meehan three minutes in.  The Bruins regained the advantage on a layup by Cole Whitehurst and a three by Wiseley, only to have the Bearcats come back on a three by Holmes and a rebound basket by Dart to make it 50-50 with 15:26 left.

Taylor broke the deadlock with a three free throws 25 seconds later, and the Bruins stretched the lead to nine at 71-62 with 8:07 to go on a three-point play by Wiseley.  Again the Bearcats rallied, scoring eight in a row in just over a minute-and-a-half, a three by Holmes bringing them within one at 71-70.   After twice tying the game, at 74-74 and 76-76, only to have the Bruins go ahead each time, the Bearcats finally regained the lead when Meehan hit a four-point play for an 82-81 lead with 2:28 to go.

Taylor’s layup and free throw with 2:09 put the Bruins back ahead, and Wiseley added two free tosses at 1:35 for a four-point lead.  Davis Martin and Taylor hit one free throw each around a layup by Kunke to make it 88-86 Bruins with 33 seconds left, setting up the final heroics by Taylor.

George Fox shot .492 (30-61) from the field to .392 (29074) for Willamette.  The Bruins finished with a .658 (25-38) mark from line, while the Bearcats, a 64 percent free throw-shooting team coming in, nearly won the game at the stripe by hitting .926 (25-27), with Meehan a perfect 12-for-12.  The rebounds were even at 44 apiece, with Dart grabbing 12 boards for the Bearcats for a double-double of his own.

NEXT: George Fox (1-3, NWC 1-0) visits Pacific Lutheran University in Parkland, Wash., Saturday for an 8:00 p.m. conference contest, with the GFU-PLU women’s game preceding at 6:00 p.m. ... Willamette (2-4, NWC 0-1) goes to the University of Puget Sound Friday for another NWC doubleheader, the women’s game at 6:00 p.m. and the men’s game at 8:00 p.m.