LINFIELD 80, GEORGE FOX 76: Bruins Sadder as Wiser Leads Wildcats to Victory
NEWBERG, Ore. – In a back-and-forth contest that went down to the wire, Linfield College center K.C. Wiser's 33 points made the difference as the visiting Wildcats hung on for an 80-76 win over the George Fox University Bruins in Northwest Conference men's basketball action Saturday night here at the Wheeler Sports Center's Miller Gym.
George Fox held the lead for the first five minutes of the game, taking its largest lead of six at 14-8 on a layup by Rich Smith four minutes in. Linfield followed with an 8-0 run to take its first lead of 16-14 on a three-pointer by Wiser at the 14:42 mark.
There were three ties and two lead changes over the next five minutes before the Wildcats went up 25-23 on a layup by Michael Moreland with 8:53 left in the half, and they stayed in front to the end of the period. A Sergio Rosario layin gave the Wildcats a seven-point advantage of 36-29 with a minute-and-a-half to go, but Davis Martin scored twice for the Bruins in the final minute to cut the deficit at the break to 36-33.
Wiser lit it up for Linfield with 19 first-half points, sinking 7-13 from the field, including 4-6 from long distance. Smith topped the Bruins with 12 points on 4-7 field goals plus four free throws. The Wildcats scorched the nets with a .583 shooting percentage (14-24) to .357 (10-28) for the Bruins, but a 20-15 rebound advantage, nine on the offensive boards, and a 10-3 edge in free throws made kept the Bruins in it.
Ryan Lobdell's layup to begin the second half gave Linfield a 38-33 lead, but the Bruins ripped off eight unanswered points, Cole Whitehurst hitting a basket and two free throws in the rally, to move ahead 41-38 with 17:27 to go. The Wildcats then forged back ahead with an 11-0 run, with Zach Anderson hitting a pair of three-pointers and two free throws, to make it 50-41 with 14:06 left.
Mike Taylor brought the Bruins back with three goals, one a game-tying trey, in a 15-6 stretch that tied it for the seventh time 56-56 with 10:24 remaining. The Bruins then went cold as the Wildcats, with a 15-3 outburst over a five-minute span, built a 12-point lead of 71-59 on a Wiser three with 5:13 to play.
Once again the Bruins rallied, Smith hitting two free throws and three baskets in a 14-4 run that made 75-73 with 1:11 left. Lobdell made a free throw at 1:04 and Cory Hendryx hit a pair with 22 seconds left for a 78-73 Linfield lead, but Stephen Wiseley banked in a three under pressure, making it 78-76 with 13 seconds left. Wiser was fouled and went to the line with 8.3 ticks showing, icing the win by hitting both.
George Fox shot .500 (15-30) in the second half to finish at .431 (25-58) for the game, but the free throw line proved almost as deadly as Wiser to the Bruins, who sank only 20-39 for a .513 percentage. Linfield hit .510 (26-51) from the floor and .690 (20-29) from the line.
Smith led a quartet of Bruins in double figures with 22 points, followed by Wiseley with 18, Taylor with 17, and Martin with 10. Whitehurst had a game-high nine rebounds as the Bruins won the battle of the backboards 39-36. Wiseley handed out six assists and made four steals.
Wiser hit 11-22 shots, including 5-9 from downtown, and 6-8 free throws en route to his 33-point total, giving the conference leader and No. 12 national scorer (23.2 ppg) 61 points in two nights. Anderson added 13 and David Lee scored 11. Wiser was the Wildcats' high rebounder with six and also passed out four assists, as did Anderson.
NEXT: With the NWC schedule at its mid-point, George Fox opens the second half of conference play Tuesday, hosting Willamette University... Linfield visits league-leading and third-ranked Whitworth University Friday ... Both games are at 8:00 p.m., following NWC women's games at 6:00 p.m.