TACOMA, Wash. – Leading from start to finish, the University of Puget Sound burst out to a huge early lead that buried the visiting George Fox University Bruins in too deep a hole for them to climb out of, and the Loggers went on to an 85-72 victory in Northwest Conference men's basketball Friday night here at Memorial Fieldhouse.
Puget Sound improved to 18-5 overall and 10-4 in the conference, keeping the Loggers a half-game ahead of Whitman College, a 78-71 winner at Pacific University, for second place in the NWC standings. George Fox slipped to 11-11 overall and rests in fourth place at 8-5, a game ahead of Pacific Lutheran University.
A three-pointer and a layup by Matt Geverola in the first 29 seconds of the game got the Loggers off to a quick 5-0 start before the Bruins dented the scoreboard with a free throw by Sean Atkins at the 18:51 mark. An Atkins jumper 26 seconds later made it 5-3 UPS, and an Anthony Sanchez basket kept the Bruins within two at 7-5 with 17:51 to go in the half, but that was as close as the Bruins would get.
Over the next six-and-a-half minutes, the Bruins got only one point, on a free throw by Sanchez, as the Loggers scored 10 points to take their first double-digit lead of 17-6 following a Kaleb Shelton jumper with 11:23 left. After Cam Rier hit a basket to end the Bruins' field goal drought, the Loggers reeled off 10 in a row to make it 27-8 following another Shelton basket with eight minutes remaining. Three times the Loggers built 21-point leads, the last at 39-18 on a Riggs Yarbro layup with 3:12 to go, but the Bruins went on a 10-3 tear to trim their deficit to 42-28 at halftime.
Sanchez and Atkins kept the Bruins reasonably in the game by scoring 14 and 12 points respectively in the first half, Sanchez canning 9-13 from the free throw line. Yarbro led the Loggers with 10 points.
The Loggers never let the Bruins get within single digits in the second half. Three times UPS rebuilt 20-point leads, the last at 54-34 with 16 minutes left on a Geverola jumper. The Bruins got within 10 points three times, the last with 6:47 to play on a pair of Atkins free throws, but the Loggers turned back every mild threat.
Sanchez tossed in a career-high 27 for the Bruins, hitting 8-13 from the field and 10-15 from the line, while Atkins scored 20 on 7-10 from the floor and 6-10 from the stripe. The Bruins shot .510 (25-49) for the game, but were outdone by the Loggers' .576 percentage (34-59). Mike Taylor had five rebounds, Corey Clark passed out three assists, and Atkins made five steals.
Shelton led the Loggers with 20 points on a perfect shooting night, hitting 7-7 field goals, including a three, and 5-5 free throws. Anthony Gittens added 16 on 7-11 field goals, Yarbro scored 14, and Julian Fernandez chipped in with 10. Gittens had a game-high eight rebounds as UPS held a 30-26 edge on the boards. Rex Holmes handed out four assists.
NEXT: George Fox visits Willamette University Saturday for an 8:00 p.m. game ... Puget Sound is off until next Friday, when the Loggers go to Lewis & Clark for an 8:00 p.m. tip ... Both games are a part of NWC doubleheaders, with women's games coming first at 6:00 p.m.