Feb 01, 2020

Bruins Wipe Out Willamette Lead, Earn Double-Digit Win On The Road

A Winning Tradition

  • Three NAIA National Tournaments (1973, 1990, 1992)
  • Two NAIA District Championship (1973, 1990)
  • 22 NAIA District Tournaments
  • Three NAIA Top 25 National Rankings (1990, 1991, 1992)
  • Four Northwest Conference Tournaments (1997-1998, 2009-2010, 2012-2013, 2016-17)
  • Two Cascade Conference Tournaments (1994, 1995)
  • Two NCCAA National Tournaments (1985, 1987)
  • Seven NCCAA Regional Tournaments (1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988)
  • One NCCAA National Coach of the Year
  • Three NAIA District Coaches of the Year
  • Two Northwest Conference Coaches of the Year
  • Two Northwest Conference Players of the Year
  • 17 All-Americans
  • Three NBA Draft Picks  

By Jacob Hayes

SALEM --- The George Fox men's basketball team completed its sweep of the season series against the Willamette Bearcats on the road, winning 86-76.  


Even though the Bruins were on the board first courtesy of a Ryan Lacey jumper, the Bearcats jumped out to a big early lead, going up 11-2 after an 11-0 run. Emilio Mancol stopped the bleeding with a three but the Bearcats extended their lead to 17-5. The Bruins were not fazed, though, and began to find a rhythm by slowing down the game and drawing shooting fouls. Soon after, Levi Dalzell put in a lay-up that Jackson Januik followed up with a three to cut the lead to 19-13.  

Willamette put a quick stop to the mounting Bruin momentum by hitting two shots and held the lead at 10 all the way up to 3:16 left in the half. Down the stretch, however, the Bruins started to string together some makes. Lacey made his free throws and JD Ahlstrom buried a three to cut the lead to seven. On the next possession, Januik sunk a jumper that Mancol followed up with another three to bring the score within two. With under a minute left, the Bearcats recouped and made two shots of their own, finishing the half with a score of 37-31.

In didn't take long for the Bearcats to reclaim their former lead, opening up the second half on an 8-2 run, making the score 45-33. Coach Maco Hamilton didn't like what he saw and substituted out his entire lineup in an attempt to shake things up. Willamette held the lead consistently at 10 points, but the Bruins pulled together another streak to cut the lead to 54-50. Lacey took control of the Bruin offense, scoring on three consecutive possessions, including two three-pointers.  

With the momentum shifting back to the Bruins, Michael Mercado Smith provided another jolt off the bench, scoring on back-to-back possessions with two layups. Kalu Stricklin followed that up with a three from the top of the key to bring the game within one. A great defensive stand got the ball back in transition and Quinn Lacey finished the play at the rim, giving George Fox the first lead since 19:24 in the first half, 59-58.  

Out of a timeout, Ahlstrom hit another three, but the Bearcats were not ready to keel over. The Wildcats used the bonus to their advantage, getting to the line twice and tying the game at 6262. The next few minutes passed by with teams trading shots, but the Bruins got streaky again with 7:05 remaining. Ryan Lacey started it off with a dunk off the baseline and quickly got the ball back via full court pressure. The ball found its way to Mancol, who hit his third three of the night. Soon after, Mercado-Smith swished back-to-back threes and suddenly the Bruins were up 10, 78-68.

There was still five minutes of game time for the Bearcats to come back and win the game, but solid Bruin defense made clear shots in the paint hard to come by and the Bruins held the 10-point lead all the way to the end, winning by a final of 86-76

Top Performers:  

Ryan Lacey was outstanding tonight, notching a hard-earned double-double with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Mercado-Smith was a perfect 5-5 from the field, scoring twelve points with two made threes. Januik led the Bruins with four assists.

What It Means:  

The Bruins improve to 8-11 overall and 4-6 in conference play after collecting their first series sweep of the 2019-20 season.

What Happens Next:  

The Bruins come back to Newberg for a Tuesday night match-up against the Pacific (Ore.) Boxers. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:00 pm at Taylor Court.