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GEORGE FOX 71, UW-STEVENS POINT 63: Bruins Stun Pointers to Advance to “Elite 8”
STEVENS POINT, Wis. – Led by their one-two punch of Keisha Gordon and Hannah Munger, the George Fox University Bruins stunned the 3rd-ranked University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Pointers 71-63 in a “Sweet 16” sectional of the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball National Tournament Friday night here at the Berg Gymnasium.
The Bruins advance to the “Elite 8” round for the third year in a row and fourth time overall to play Saturday at 7:00 p.m. (5:00 p.m. Pacific time) against the 7th-ranked Illinois Wesleyan University Titans, who eliminated the 23rd-ranked Coe College Kohawks 77-74 earlier in the evening. The Bruins, ranked 23rd in the WBCA poll, improved to 25-5 with their 14th straight win, while the Pointers’ season came to a close with a 27-3 record.
Gordon poured in a game-high 22 points for the upstart Bruins, just missed a double-double with nine rebounds, and made six steals. Munger posted her 14th double-double of the season and 23rd of her career with 17 points and 10 boards, and also blocked two shots.
Arianna Mohsenian hit a three-pointer from the left corner eight seconds into the game to give the Bruins a quick 3-0 lead, and the Bruins never trailed. A layup by Megan Arnoldy with 12:50 to go in the half stretched the lead to eight points at 14-6 before the Pointers made a run to climb back within three at 17-14 with 10:27 left. A Gordon free throw and two baskets by Munger boosted the George Fox lead back to eight at 22-14 with eight minutes remaining, but Sam Barber hit a jumper and Christin Coles a three for the Pointers, and after a Gordon basket, a Cassie Bandow three cut it to 24-22 with six minutes to go.
Again the Bruins pulled away, this time with a 7-0 run on an Arnoldy free throw, a layup by Munger, and two baskets by Mohsenian to give the Bruins their largest lead at 31-22 with 4:31 left. Sparked by three consecutive jumpers by Britta Petersen, who scored 14 points in the first half, the Pointers went on a 14-5 tear to tie it 36-36 with 1:05 left, the only tie of the game, but the Bruins got a short jumper by Gordon and a coast-to-coast layup by Carly Towne at the buzzer to take a 40-36 lead into the break.
After Hayley Cusick scored to open the second half for the Bruins, the Pointers responded with a three by Ashley Averkamp and a layup by Petersen to bring UWSP within one at 42-41, but the home team would get no closer. Gordon canned a three, then Carrie Myers and Munger added buckets for a 49-41 lead with 12:53 left, and the Bruins answered every Pointer attempt to catch them the rest of the way.
Three times the Pointers got within three, the last on an Averkamp layup that made it 65-62 with 2:56 to go. The Bruins closed out the game, however, with a 6-1 run featuring a layup by Munger, a free throw by Towne, and three more charity tosses by Gordon, who had 12 second-half points.
Cusick and Mohsenian added eight points apiece for the Bruins, and Mohsenian had three assists. George Fox torched the nets for a .563 shooting percentage (27-48), and out-rebounded the Pointers 39-30.
Petersen finished with 19 points to lead UWSP, with Bandow adding 11 and Averkamp 10. Bandow had a team-high eight rebounds and five assists. The Pointers shot .393 (24-61) from the floor, including .450 (9-20) from three-point range.
NOTES: Illinois Wesleyan is the host for this year’s “Final Four” on March 18-19, so the Bruins have a chance to prevent the host team from playing for the title on its home floor for the second time in three years. In 2009-10, en route to a 32-0 record and the national championship, the Bruins knocked out Hope College in the “Elite 8” when it was to be the “Final Four” host ... The Bruins will return home to Portland on Sunday morning, arriving at 11:09 a.m. on Delta Airlines #2163, for fans who wish to meet the team.