GEORGE FOX 66, LINFIELD 52: Bruins Beat Wildcats to Secure Outright NWC Crown
NEWBERG, Ore. – Scoring 15 straight points, all on three-pointers, late in the first half, the George Fox University Bruins broke open a close game and went on to a 66-52 win over the Linfield College Wildcats Friday evening here at the Wheeler Sports Center's Miller Gym, clinching their sixth Northwest Conference women's basketball title outright.
George Fox, ranked No. 3 in the NCAA Division III, had already wrapped up a share of the NWC crown and home-court advantage in next week's four-team NWC Tournament. The Bruins are now 24-0 overall and 15-0 in the conference. Linfield fell to 10-14 overall and 4-11 in league play.
A three by Arianna Mohsenian and a layup by Keisha Gordon got the Bruins off to a 5-0 start, but the Wildcats clawed back into it with four straight buckets by Gretchen Owens, Katelyn Hansen, Kaely Maltman, and Brynna Fuller. Jami Roos tied it 8-8 with a Bruin three with 15:24 left in the half, and over the next seven minutes, the Bruins maintained a slight advantage.
Henson's layup brought the Wildcats within one at 23-22 with 8:07 to go, and then Bruins caught fire with consecutive treys from Megan Arnoldy, Dacia Heckendorf, Gordon, and two by Roos, boosting their lead to 38-22 with 4:57 left. A layup by Gordon gave the home team a 43-27 lead at the intermission.
George Fox connected on 16-41 (.390) from the field in the half, including 8-21 (.381) from long range, while Linfield hit 11-28 (.393) but only 1-5 (.200) from beyond the arc. Roos led all scorers with 14 points, while Henson topped the 'Cats with eight.
Gordon scored to open the second half, giving George Fox its largest lead of 18 points at 45-27, but with Owens scoring nine points in a seven-minute span, the Wildcats climbed back into the game. Maltman's layup with 9:47 left trimmed the Bruins' lead to single digits for the first time in the period at 52-43.
Roos answered with another Bruin three 30 seconds later, and the lead never dipped below double figures again. The Bruins twice got the lead back up to 17 in the final three minutes, the last at 66-49 with 2:25 left on a layup by Hannah Munger.
George Fox finished with a .342 shooting percentage (25-73), including .313 (10-32) from three-point range. Linfield had a .357 field goal mark (20-56), but just .250 (3-12) from long distance. The Bruins held a 47-38 advantage on the boards.
Roos led the Bruins with 17 points, hitting 5-9 on threes, and Gordon added 13, giving her 1,604 career points and moving her within 25 of Melody Groeneveld-McMaster's school-record 1,629. Gordon and Munger grabbed nine rebounds apiece, while Munger extended her school record for blocked shots to 292 with four more. Mohsenian had a game-high six assists. It was the final regular-season home game for five seniors - Gordon, Mohsenian, Carrie Myers, Breezy Rinehart-Young, and Carly Towne - who were honored in pre-game ceremonies.
Owens, the conference's leading scorer and eighth in the nation, tossed in a game-high 20 for the Wildcats, including 7-8 free throws, and made it a double-double with 12 rebounds. Henson finished with 12 points. Alex Christiansen handed out four assists, and Fuller made three steals.
NEXT: George Fox closes the regular season at Pacific Lutheran University Saturday while Linfield hosts the University of Puget Sound, both games tipping off at 6:00 p.m. The women's games will be followed by NWC men's games at 8:00 0 p.m.