Recap | Recap | Recap | Recap | Box Score
WHITWORTH 61, GEORGE FOX 59: No. 5-Ranked Pirates Dodge Bruins’ Upset Bullet
NEWBERG, Ore. – George Valle scored his only points of the night, a three-point play with 19.8 seconds left, that enabled the fifth-ranked Whitworth University Pirates to dodge an upset bullet fired by the George Fox University Bruins for a critical 61-59 Northwest Conference men’s basketball win Friday night here at the Wheeler Sports Center’s Miller Gym.
George Fox, which entered the game tied for second in the NWC with Willamette University, slipped to 6-6 overall and 2-2 in the conference. Whitworth, with its 14th consecutive win on the season and 14th in a row over the Bruins, improved to 14-1 overall and 6-0 in the league.
It was a game of wild and wide swings. The Bruins took a 2-0 lead on jumper by Sean Atkins before the Pirates erupted, hitting nine of their first 12 shots to race away for a 20-5 lead with 11:37 to go in the half. Zach Payne put the finishing touches on the outburst by hitting all three shots he took off the bench for six of the visitors’ 20 points.
It was then the Bruins’ turn to sizzle. A layup by Atkins at the 11:11 mark slowed the Pirates and sparked a 23-3 run by the home team over the next six minutes that gave them a 28-23 lead with 5:15 left after two Atkins free throws. The No. 2 scorer in the conference at 18 points a game, Atkins had 12 points in the run and finished the half with 19 points. Dustin McConnell’s jumper cut the Whitworth deficit to 28-25 before Atkins was fouled on a three-point attempt and hit all three freebies with 2:06 left, giving the Bruins a 31-25 lead that they took into halftime.
The Bruins took six-point leads twice early in the second half, once on a three-pointer by Seth Brent and again at 36-30 on a layup by Atkins with 17:58 left in the game. The Pirates then made another huge run, out-scoring the Bruins 16-2 over a seven-minute span to go up 46-38 with 10:56 to play. Colton McCargar hit four buckets for eight points in the run and Wade Gebbers capped the rally with a three.
The Pirates were still up by eight at 49-41 following a trey by McCargar with 9:48 left when the Bruins turned the tables, taking off on a 16-2 run of their own to build a 57-51 lead with 2:58 showing. Jason Martin keyed the comeback with seven points, hitting a layup and subsequent free throw that put the Bruins ahead 53-51 with 4:23 to go.
Gebbers started the Pirates’ final rally with a three at 2:45, Taylor Farnsworth hit a layup, and Mack Larkin’s two free throws following a costly Bruin turnover gave Whitworth a 58-57 lead with 1:08 to go. Atkins scored with 49 seconds left for the Bruins’ final lead, and the Pirates and Bruins traded missed one-and-ones to set up Valle’s go-ahead layup and free throw with just under 20 seconds to play. The Bruins turned the ball over with 15 seconds left, but Valle missed two free throws, giving the home team one last chance. Martin left a three-point try short and Josh Garlington rebounded for the Bruins, but after a time out with 1.3 seconds left, they could not get off a decent shot in time as the Pirates escaped the upset.
Atkins finished with a game-high 27 points and Martin added 13 for the Bruins, who shot .356 (21-59) from the field to .533 (24-45) for the Pirates but stayed in the game by forcing a Whitworth season-high 22 turnovers. Atkins had four of the Bruins’ eight steals. Brent, Garlington, and Bolte had five rebounds each, and Bolte passed out six assists.
McCargar led the Pirates with 16 points, with Gebbers adding 11 and McConnell 10. Gebbers had six boards as the visitors held a 34-30 edge on the glass. Payne passed out four assists.
NEXT: George Fox hosts Whitman College Saturday at 6:00 p.m., two hours earlier than usual to allow the Missionaries extra time for their travel back home to Walla Walla, Wash. ... Whitworth hosts Willamette next Friday at 8:00 p.m. ... Both men’s games will be preceded by NWC women’s contests.