NEWBERG, Ore. – David Michaels poured in 40 points, including 22 in a row for his team at one stretch, as the visiting Whitman College Missionaries pulled away in the second half for an 82-62 victory over the George Fox University Bruins in Northwest Conference men’s basketball action Saturday evening here at the Wheeler Sports Center’s Miller Gym.
George Fox and Whitman entered the game as half of a four-way tie for second place in the conference, along with Pacific Lutheran University and the University of Puget Sound. The Bruins slipped to 9-10 overall and 6-4 in the league, while Whitman improved to 14-5 overall and 7-3 in the NWC.
Michaels scored his first basket 11 seconds into the game, but the Bruins took the lead with a 10-2 run that featured three free throws on one trip to the line by Mike Taylor and five points, including a three-pointer, by Anthony Sanchez. The Bruins again went up by five at 16-11 on a Cam Rier three from the left corner at the 10:32 mark before a conventional three-point play by Michaels gave Whitman its first lead since the opening seconds at 19-18 with 8:25 left in the half.
The Missionaries stretched the margin to seven at 27-20 with 7:14 to go on a three by Drew Raher, but the Bruins answered with eight points in a row, the last six on two baskets and two free throws by Sean Atkins, to regain a 28-27 advantage with 4:44 left. Michaels put the Missionaries back up with a jumper 28 seconds later. The Bruins secured the fifth tie of the period 34-34 on a Taylor trey with 1:15 to play, but LuQuam Thompson gave Whitman a 36-34 halftime edge with two charity tosses with a second to go.
Both teams shot well in the opening stanza, the Bruins hitting .524 (11-21) from the field with three three-pointers and .818 (9-11) from the line, and the Missionaries .481 (13-27) on field goals with four threes and .857 (6-7) from the stripe. Michaels had 12 to lead all scorers and Atkins had 10 for the home team.
Taylor drained a three to open the second half to give George Fox a 37-36 lead, and they also took one-point leads two more times, the last on two Atkins free throws for a 44-43 margin with 14:28 left - and then Michaels took over. Having hit a layup that had given his team a temporary 43-42 lead, he scored 20 more consecutive points for the Missionaries over a 10 minute-span, hitting two free throws, three two-pointers, and four three-pointers as Whitman built a 63-50 lead with 5:12 left.
The Missionaries used free throws profusely over the final five minutes as the Bruins fouled in a vain effort to catch up, sinking 15-of-17 in that time (only four by Michaels). Their largest lead was 21 twice, the last at 77-56 with 2:15 remaining after two free tosses by Matt Mounier.
Atkins led a quartet of Bruins in double figures with 20 points, while Taylor added 13, Sanchez 12, and Spencer Bolte 11. Atkins, Taylor, and Bolte all had four rebounds for the Bruins, who were out-boarded 32-17. Corey Clark handed out four assists, and Sanchez made five steals. The Bruins finished with a .452 shooting mark (19-42), including .348 (8-23) on threes, and .727 (16-22) from the line.
Michaels hit 14-of-17 from the field, including 4-of-5 from downtown and 8-of-9 from the stripe, on the way to his huge night. He also had game highs of six rebounds and seven steals. Raher added 13 points for the Missionaries, who shot .543 (25-46) from the floor, .500 (8-16) from beyond the arc, and .857 (24-28) from the line.
NEXT: George Fox hosts Lewis & Clark College Tuesday while Whitman entertains Pacific Lutheran Friday, both games starting at 8:00 p.m. As a part of NWC doubleheaders, they will be preceded by the women’s games at 6:00 p.m.