Feb 07, 2020

Bruins Drop Season Series To Lutes

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

NEWBERG --- George Fox men's basketball hosted its penultimate home game of the 2019-20 season on Friday, Feb. 7, against the Pacific Lutheran Lutes who held off the Bruins' second-half comeback attempt in a 71-65 defeat for Fox.


Out of the gate, both teams were sloppy with the ball. Nobody could get a bucket as the teams shot a combined 3-14 from the field. JD Ahlstrom finally got George Fox on the board with a three, but four minutes passed before another Bruin bucket was scored. Eventually, Ryan Lacey pulled down an offensive rebound and kicked it out to Zack Sly, who knocked down a triple. Nonetheless, the Lutes held a 9-6 lead at the time.

With 11:02 left in the half, Lacey knocked down a three and Ahlstrom followed it up with a layup to bring the lead down to one. Soon after, Lacey got a steal on the baseline and a beautiful pass ahead of Jackson Januik on the fast break gave the Bruins the lead 14-13.  

The lead would not be kept for long, though. Early fouls in the half got the Lutes into the bonus with eight minutes left, leading to converted free throws on non-shooting fouls. Pacific Lutheran also strung together some stops that directly lead to back-to-back threes, making the score 22-16.

The Bruins cashed in on the bonus as well, converting 4-4 after the seventh foul, but could not grab the momentum from Pacific Lutheran. Emilio Mancol helped cut the lead with a three, but the Lutes continued to create opportunities with more drawn fouls and offensive rebounds. With the final possession of the half, the Bruins let the clock run down for Mancol to take a three. He missed his attempt, but Michael Mercado-Smith pulled down the offensive rebound. The ball was knocked loose and a scramble broke out for possession, but the ball found its way right back to Mancol, who picked the ball up and shot it in one motion, knocking it down at the buzzer. Even though the Bruins converted on the crazy possession, the Lutes still had the lead, 30-27.

Both teams found their offensive rhythm to start the second half. Right off the bat, Ahlstrom tied the game with a three, but the Lutes scored on the following possessions to reclaim the lead. Then, in a chain of possessions, Lacey and Januik finished beautiful buckets at the rim to keep the game close, only trailing by one, 39-38.

The Lutes followed up the push with a spurt of their own, but a defensive stop for the Bruins had Mancol out front of the pack with only one defender to beat. A nifty no-look pass fooled him and a trailing defender, giving Lacey an open lane to throw down a dunk. The momentum seemed to be favoring the Bruins, but a no-call flared up coach Maco Hamilton, leading to a technical foul. The Lutes used the given possession plus the free throws to go on an 11-1 run, broadening the lead to 52-41.  

The Bruins called a timeout to regroup and came back with an emboldened desire to win. Januik drew a shooting foul that earned him two free throws to stop the run and a Sly took a defensive stop the full length of the court for a lay-up to cut the lead to 52-45. Ahlstrom finished his lay-up on the next possession that Sly followed up with another to cut the lead further to 52-49, capping off an 8-0 run. The Lutes responded with a string of their own scores, but the Bruins continued to fight. With 3:32 left, the Bruins trailed 62-56.

Both teams were in double bonus and both teams attempted to capitalize on it, but with 1:59 left in the game, Januik drew a technical foul from Jordan Thomas. Lacey converted both attempts from the charity stripe and then hit his own shot on the ensuing possession to bring the score within two, 64-62. George Fox continued to commit fouls, however, and the Lutes converted on their chances, forcing the Bruins to resort to the foul game to regain possessions. The Bruins kept it close, but were unable hit the clutch shots in waining moments, ultimately falling by a final of 71-65.

Top Performers:

Lacey led George Fox with 18 points (5-14), five rebounds, four assists, and four steals. Ahlstrom had 14 points of his own (5-12) and lead all Bruins with seven rebounds. Januik finished with 11 points (4-14), four rebounds, and three steals. The Bruins' defense was out in fource on the night, forcing 23 turnovers and generating 30 more shot attempts than the Lutes' roster in the process. 

What It Means:

The Bruins missed a chance to stop the skid, falling to 4-8 in conference and 8-13 overall.

What Happens Next:

George Fox won't be back on the court until they play a rematch against the Whitman Blues next Friday, February 14th, in Walla Walla. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:00pm at the Sherwood Athletic Center.