TACOMA, Wash. – Plagued by shooting woes all night long that proved too much to overcome, the George Fox University Bruins fell out of a three-way tie for first place in the Northwest Conference women's basketball race with a 56-40 loss to the University of Puget Sound Loggers Friday evening here at Memorial Fieldhouse.
The Bruins fell to 11-5 overall and 5-2 in the conference, slipping into third place in the standings. Puget Sound improved to 13-3 overall and 6-1 in the NWC, remaining in a tie for first with Lewis & Clark College, which defeated Willamette University 71-54 at home.
The Bruins scored the first two points seven seconds into the game on a pair of Hayley Cusick free throws, then went scoreless for over five minutes as the Loggers raced ahead with nine unanswered points. Kelsey McKinnis tied the score with a jumper, Jocelyn Riordan put the Loggers ahead for good with a three, and Lindsay Layland and Val Middlton added baskets before Arianna Mohsenian hit a three for the Bruins' first goal with 14:18 left in the half.
The Loggers eventually extended their lead to 10 points at 24-14 on a three by McKinnis with seven minutes to go. The Bruins closed in with seven straight points over the next three minutes on a jumper by Kylee Parker, two free throws by Keisha Gordon, and a free throw and basket by Hannah Munger, cutting the deficit to 24-21. UPS went back up by nine at 30-21 on another McKinnis jumper before Carrie Myers scored the last basket of the half for the Bruins, making it 30-23 at the break.
Munger opened the second half with a layup to bring the Bruins within five, but the Loggers pulled away with a 10-3 run to open up a 40-28 lead on a Sha'Ran Lowe free throw with 16:15 remaining. The Bruin defense then tightened up to hold the Loggers scoreless for over nine minutes, but the offense could take little advantage as they missed eight shots and committed five turnovers during that span, trimming only six points off the UPS lead. Two free throws by Myers with 8:55 left made it 40-34, but that was as close as the Bruins would come.
McKinnis began a 9-0 run with two free throws and capped it with a jumper, boosting the UPS lead to 15 at 49-34 with 3:39 to go and clinching the win. Her two free throws with 15 seconds left gave the Loggers their largest lead of 18 at 56-38 before Megan Arnoldy hit a goal for the Bruins with two ticks left.
The Bruins shot less than 30 percent in both halves and finished with a paltry .277 shooting percentage (13-47), their second-lowest of the season, including only 1-10 from three-point range. A 13-24 mark (.542) from the free throw line and a 22-14 disadvantage in turnovers also contributed to the Bruins' first loss to their biggest rival for NWC honors over the last five years after an eight-game winning streak against UPS.
Munger led the Bruins with 13 points and 10 rebounds despite being double-teamed almost every time she touched the ball, her sixth double-double of the season and 17th of her career. Gordon added 10 points, including 6-6 from the line, but the rest of the team was only 7-18 at the stripe. Mohsenian passed out three assists.
Riordan led all scorers with 21 points and Riordan added 16 for the Loggers, who shot .328 (20-61) from the floor and were 5-16 (.313) from beyond the arc. Middlton had a team-high 10 rebounds, and McKinnis and Riordan handed out three assists each.
NEXT: George Fox completes the first half of conference play by hosting Yamhill County rival Linfield College Saturday while Puget Sound hosts Lewis & Clark, both games Saturday at 6:00 p.m. Each will be followed by NWC men's games at 8:00 p.m.