Jan 03, 2017

Lacey and Rico Lead Bruins in OT Win Over Pioneers

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  

Photo Taken By: Jake Ryan

By: Alex Plusquellec

NEWBERG, Ore. --- JJ Lacey and Thomas Rico combined for 57 points as the George Fox men's basketball team took down the Lewis and Clark Pioneers in overtime Tuesday night, marking their best start to Northwest Conference play in 12 years.

The Pioneers, who entered the contest with a three game winning streak, found themselves down early after a hot start by the Bruins. The Bruins began the game on a 13-5 run thanks to four points apiece from Rico and Lacey. Rico hit his first of five threes to help push the Bruins' lead to 11, and Ryan Thistlewood ran off six straight points of his own to give the Bruins a 24-12 lead.

Multiple Bruins began to kick in as Johnathan Doutt, Jad Darger, and Brendan Jones subbed into the game and helped maintain a 12 point edge. The Pioneers then began to grab some momentum, cutting into the Bruins' lead with three minutes left in the half. Dylan Hamlett's layup just before the half gave the Bruins a 46-40 advantage at the break. 

Both teams enjoyed solid shooting halves as each shot north of 55 percent in the first half.

The Pioneers began the second half on a 10-4 run, bringing the game to a tie at 50-50. A three from Rico broke the tie and gave the Bruins a slim lead, but it was clear the Pioneers weren't going away as they grabbed their first lead of the game at 54-53.

Down 71-64 with just under nine minutes to play, Lacey and Rico began to pour it in as the duo combined for 17 for the Bruins next 21 points. Back-to-back threes from the two guards helped the Bruins regain the lead with two minutes to go. 

"I think we can feel each other heating up," Rico said about the on-court connection with Lacey. "We really try to find each other and get each other open shots."

After two free throws from Lacey gave the Bruins an 89-86 lead, Lewis and Clark's Markel Leonard nailed a three to tie the game with 18 seconds left, forcing overtime. Despite their opponent seizing momentum going into the overtime period, Rico and his teammates knew exactly what was needed in overtime.

"We knew we needed to stay calm and play the way we did earlier (in the game), move the ball and get stops," said the Rico.

The Bruins did just that.

The Pioneers struck first in overtime, but a jumper from Thistlewood tied the game at 91-91. After a two minute scoreless drought, Rico hit his fifth three pointer of the night snatching momentum in favor of the Bruins. Layups from Doutt and Lacey helped seal the deal as the Bruins hung on to take down the Pioneers, 103-96.

"I feel like we have a really high ceiling," Rico said about moving forward. "We just need to work hard in practice and come out with the same confidence on Friday that we did tonight."

Top Performers:
Thomas Rico went 5-7 from behind the arc on his way to a game-high 31 points. JJ Lacey poured 26 points including 7-8 from the free throw line. Ryan Thistlewood led the Bruins in both rebounding, grabbing seven boards. He also had a team-high five assists to go along with 15 points. 

What It Means:
The Bruins are 3-0 to start NWC play, their best start since the 2004-05 season. Their eight turnovers is the second lowest total of the season to date, and their 54.7% shooting percentage marks the Bruins' most efficient offensive output of the year. 

What Comes Next:
The Bruins will return to the floor Friday night as they travel north to take on Pacific Lutheran. Tip is set for 8 p.m.