Recap | Box Score
GEORGE FOX 89, WILLAMETTE 87: Bruins Outlast Bearcats in Overtime Heartstopper
NEWBERG, Ore. – A buzzer-beater in regulation by Sean Atkins that sent the game into overtime and a game-winning drive by A.J. Grant with six seconds left lifted the George Fox University Bruins to an 89-87 win over the Willamette University Bearcats in a Northwest Conference men’s basketball thriller Friday night here at the Wheeler Sports Center’s Miller Gym.
With the win, the Bruins improved to 6-8 overall and 3-2 in the conference. The Bearcats suffered their fifth straight setback, falling to 2-12 overall and 0-5 in the NWC.
Willamette jumped out to a 7-0 lead on a layup by Sean Dart, a three-point play by Terrell Malley, and a jumper by Ryan Meehan, and never trailed in the first half. Two free throws by Kyle McNally made it a 10-point Bearcat lead of 15-5 five minutes into the game. The Bruins pulled within one at 22-21 with 10:53 left in the half with a 16-7 run that featured seven straight points by Anthony Sanchez, but the Bearcats rebuilt a 10-point lead of 39-29 following a jumper by Taylor Mounts with 3:39 left.
A three-pointer by Grant pulled the Bruins within four at 41-37 with 39 seconds to go, but Malley canned a three with three seconds left for a 44-37 Bearcat halftime lead. That capped a spectacular first half for the 5-11 Willamette guard, who produced 18 points on 7-8 field-goal shooting, including 3-4 from long distance. Sanchez had 10 points to pace the Bruins.
After a Mounts layup boosted the Bearcat lead to nine to open the second half, the Bruins scored eight in a row on a jumper by Grant and threes by Mike Taylor and Grant to narrow the margin to 46-45 with 18:17 to play. The game remained tight the rest of the way, with neither team holding more than a four-point lead. In the final 17 minutes of regulation, there were 10 lead changes and 10 ties.
Taylor gave George Fox its final lead of regulation 78-76 on a jumper with 3:23 left, but Dart hit back-to-back layups to give Willamette an 80-78 lead with 2:17 to go. The Bruins missed shots on their next two possessions while the Bearcats missed a shot and committed a turnover on their two opportunities. On the final possession of regulation, Taylor had a baseline shot blocked and Sanchez missed a layup on the rebound, but Atkins nailed a fadeaway 12-footer from the baseline as time expired to knot it 80-80.
The overtime was likewise a seesaw affair. Atkins’ layup gave the Bruins a quick lead, but the Bearcats regained the advantage on a Dart free throw and a jumper by Mounts at the 3:30 mark. There were two more lead changes before Atkins made a steal and layup with 1:56 left to put the Bruins ahead, and when he was fouled on the play but had to leave the game to clean up some blood, Jon Adrian hit the ensuing free throw for an 87-85 lead. Mounts powered in a layup to tie it 87-87 with 1:43 left, then after a missed Bruin shot and a swap of three turnovers, Grant drove for the winning basket with six seconds left. A desperation wild shot from the corner by Willamette was nowhere near the goal as the Bruins hung on.
Atkins posted his first career double-double with 19 points and 11 boards to lead the Bruins, while also making five key steals. Grant added 19, including a trio of threes, Taylor scored 18, Sanchez 14, and Spencer Bolte 11. Taylor handed out eight assists and blocked two shots. The Bruins shot .474 (36-76) from the field, .346 (9-26) from downtown, and .727 (8-11) from the line.
Malley finished with 25 points to pace the Bearcats, while Dart added 17, Mounts 16, and Ryan Meehan 10. Mounts also had a double-double with 10 boards and Dart just missed one with nine as the visitors held a 39-37 rebounding edge. Trevor Bos passed out six assists. The Bearcats shot .529 (36-68) from the floor, .409 (9-22) from beyond the arc, and .600 (6-10) from the stripe.
NEXT: George Fox hosts the 18th-ranked University of Puget Sound (11-3 overall, 3-2 in the conference) Saturday at 8:00 p.m. … Willamette visits Lewis & Clark College Saturday, also at 8:00 p.m. … Both games are part of NWC doubleheaders, with the women’s games preceding at 6:00 p.m.