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GEORGE FOX 53, PAC LUTHERAN 52: Sanchez’ Buzzbeater Rescues Bruins from Lutes
NEWBERG, Ore. – In a thrilling battle for a share of second place in the Northwest Conference, Anthony Sanchez’ buzzer-beating layup off an errant desperation shot lifted the George Fox University Bruins to a stunning 53-52 win over the Pacific Lutheran University Lutes in men’s basketball action Sunday night here at the Wheeler Sports Center’s Miller Gym.
Cameron Schilling had given the visiting Lutes a 52-51 lead with a turnaround jumper in the lane with 10 seconds left. Disdaining a timeout, the Bruins drove the length of the court, where Mike Taylor was forced to throw up a long-range closely-guarded attempt from the right wing. The shot went over the goal, but Sanchez was in the right spot to put the ball off the glass and into the net as the horn sounded.
With its fifth straight win, George Fox improved to 9-8 overall and 6-2 in the conference, moving into a tie for second place in the league standings with Whitman College. Pacific Lutheran fell to 8-9 overall and 5-3 in the NWC, dropping into a tie for fourth with the University of Puget Sound. It was only the second Sunday game in George Fox men’s history, and was the makeup of a postponement from Friday, when severe winter weather had prevented PLU from leaving the Puget Sound area.
PLU got off to a 4-0 lead on layups by Kai Hoyt and Schilling, but the Bruins answered with a 10-2 run featuring three-pointers by Sanchez and Taylor and a goal and two free throws by Sean Atkins for a 10-6 lead five minutes into the game. The Lutes responded with a 9-2 run of their own, Schilling starting and ending the rally with baskets, to regain the lead 15-12 with 9:33 left in the period.
Over the next seven minutes, the Bruins used runs of 9-0 and 6-0 to build the largest lead of the game, 29-19 with 2:51 left following a free throw by Spencer Bolte. The Lutes closed the half with a 6-0 run, capped by a drive and free throw by James Conti, to cut the Bruins’ halftime lead to 29-25. Taylor led all scorers with 11 first-half points, while Schilling’s eight led the Lutes.
The Bruins maintained a lead between three and seven points through the first eight minutes of the second half until a three-point play by the Lutes’ Arvid Isaksen and two free throws by Zachary Klein made it a two-point game of 42-40 with 11:29 remaining. After a swap of baskets, Schilling and Terrell Williams hit back-to-back jumpers to forge a 44-44 tie with 8:03 to play. Williams then hit a layup to give PLU its first lead of the second half 46-44 with 6:26 to go.
The Bruins regained the lead 49-46 on a three by Sanchez and a drive by Taylor, but Schilling hit two technical free throws and a jumper for a 50-49 Lutes lead with 5:28 to play. Two Atkins free throws with 4:19 left put the Bruins back in front 51-50. Both teams went scoreless over the next four-plus minutes, the Lutes missing four shots and the Bruins misfiring on two shots and a free throw, setting up the final dramatic seconds.
Atkins led the Bruins in scoring with 14 points, Taylor finished with 13, and Sanchez added 11. The Bruins shot only .388 (19-49) from the field, including .250 (4-16) from beyond the arc, but hit .786 (11-14) from the free throw line. Taylor and Atkins had seven rebounds apiece as the teams fought to a 37-37 standoff on the boards. Corey Clark handed out three assists, and Atkins had four steals and four blocked shots.
Schilling topped all scorers with 18 points for the Lutes, and Conti chipped in with 12. PLU also struggled from the floor, connecting on only a .328 percentage (20-61) and .143 (2-14) from long distance, but drained 10-13 free throws (.769). Schilling had a game-high eight rebounds, and Hoyt passed out two assists.
NEXT: George Fox hosts ninth-ranked Whitworth University (14-3 and 7-1 in the NWC) with a share of first place in the conference on the line and Pacific Lutheran hosts Linfield College Friday, both games at 8:00 p.m., to begin the second half of league play … Each will be part of conference doubleheaders, with the women’s games beginning first at 6:00 p.m.