GEORGE FOX 75, PAC LUTHERAN 59: Bruins Top Lutes for Another Unbeaten Season
PARKLAND, Wash. – Securing their second undefeated regular season in the last four years, the third-ranked George Fox University Bruins built up a big lead and then held off the feisty Pacific Lutheran University Lutes for a 75-59 win in Northwest Conference women's basketball Saturday evening here at Olson Auditorium.
George Fox, which had already wrapped up its sixth straight conference crown, is now 25-0 overall and 16-0 in league play. The Bruins also were unbeaten in the regular season in 2008-09 and went on to win the NCAA Division III national championship with a perfect 32-0 record. This is also the third time in four seasons the Bruins have won every conference game, emulating the 2008-09 and 2009-10 teams; no other conference team has done it more than once. Pacific Lutheran ended its season with 7-18 record and finished in a tie for seventh in the NWC at 4-12.
The first half of the game was tight for over 12 minutes, with nine lead changes and two ties during that time. A three-pointer by Andi Adams brought the Lutes into a 21-21 tie with 7:44 left, but Breezy Rinehart-Young broke the deadlock with a driving layup and ignited a 9-0 Bruin run, capped by a Kylee Parker jumper, that made it 30-21 with 3:22 to play. After Samantha Potter ended the outburst with a rebound basket, the Bruins reeled off nine more in a row to close the half on three-pointers by Keisha Gordon, Dacia Heckendorf and Parker, taking a 39-23 lead into the break.
George Fox established its first-half superiority largely on three-point shooting, canning 7-12 (.583) from beyond the arc. Gordon was 3-3 from downtown for nine points and Arianna Mohsenian hit a pair en route to 10 first-half markers. Sara Backstrom kept the Lutes in the game with eight first-half points.
The Bruins surged to a 23-point lead of 53-30 six minutes into the final period following a Jami Roos trey, but the Lutes would not go away. Led by Potter's 13 second-half points and a .500 shooting percentage (13-26) in the final period, the Lutes went on a 21-5 run, trimming the deficit to 58-51 with five minutes remaining on a triple by Backstrom.
Roos slowed the Lutes' comeback with a layup and free throw to get the lead back to double digits at 61-51 with 4:53 left. The Lutes twice cut it to nine, the last at 63-54 on a layup by Potter with 3:38 remaining, before the Bruins finally salted the game away with a 6-0 run over the next two minutes, five of the points by Gordon.
Four Bruins scored in double figures, led by Gordon, whose 16 points raised her career total to 1,620, second all-time at George Fox. She needs only 10 more to pass Melody Groeneveld-McMasters' Bruin-record 1,629 points. Mohsenian added 15 points, Roos 11, and Hannah Munger 10, including 8-10 free throws. Munger just missed a double-double with nine rebounds. Megan Arnoldy had three assists, and Gordon made five steals, extending her Bruin career record to 271, as the Bruins forced 23 PLU turnovers.
Potter posted a double-double for the Lutes with 17 points and 12 rebounds, while Adams scored 12 points, Backstrom 11, and Mackenzie Bieker 10. Chrissy Swope handed out five assists, and Bieker made three steals.
NEXT: George Fox has home-court advantage throughout next week's four-team NWC Tournament. On Thursday, Feb. 23, the Bruins will host the fourth-place University of Puget Sound, while league runner-up Lewis & Clark College will host third-place Whitman College. The title game, which will determine the conference's automatic bid to the national tournament, will be on Saturday, Feb. 25. Game times, ticket information, and other details will be announced some time Monday following a conference call of all the teams involved.