SPOKANE, Wash. – For the entire 40 minutes of regulation play, George Fox University never trailed Whitworth University, but that was not enough to avoid an overtime period in which the 16th-ranked Pirates escaped the upset-minded Bruins for a 105-101 Northwest Conference men's basketball victory Saturday night here at the Whitworth Field House.
The Bruins, who handed the Pirates their only league loss 98-85 on Jan. 17, fell to 14-8 overall and 7-6 in league play, dropping back to fifth place in the NWC standings a game behind Lewis & Clark College, which won 72-66 at Pacific University Saturday. Whitworth improved to 19-4 overall and 13-1 in the NWC, two games ahead of Whitman College.
The Bruins opened the game by making their first seven shots and nine of their first ten, taking a 7-0 lead and then building it to 17-2. Sean Atkins and Jason Martin each hit a layup and a three-pointer in the initial outburst, while Seth Brent made a pair of layups and J.J. Lacey canned a three. The lead eventually burgeoned to 18 on a pair of Brent free throws that made it 25-7 six minutes into the game. Although the Pirates twice were able to trim the deficit to six, the Bruins pulled away to a 51-40 lead at the half.
After trading baskets for the first few minutes of the second stanza, the Pirate caught fire for a 9-0 run that lifted them within a point of the Bruins at 59-58 on a Dustin McConnell layup with 13:40 to go. A jumper by Atkins and a dunk by Spencer Bolte got the Bruins going again, and they built the lead back to 11 twice, the last at 93-82 on a three by Jonny Howard with only 1:30 to go. The Bruins made three turnovers and missed three free throws down the stretch, however, and the Pirates capitalized with five points by Christian Jurlina and threes by Colton McCargar and McConnell, the latter tying the game for only the second time all game 95-95 with 42 seconds left.
Jurlina's jumper 25 seconds into the overtime gave Whitworth its first lead the entire game. Two Bolte free throws tied it, but the Pirates broke the deadlock for good on a layup by George Valle, and they stayed in front by making 4-6 free throws along with a layup by McConnell while the Bruins misfired on their final four shots.
Atkins and Bolte had 20 points each for the Bruins, followed by A.J. Grant with 19, Brent with 14, and Howard with 11. Brent just missed a double-double with nine rebounds as the teams were even 35-35 on the glass. Bolte passed out six assists.
McCargar had 22 points, Jurlina 16, Love 15, McConnell 14, Valle 13, and Robby Douglas 11 for the Pirates. Tyalor Farnsworth grabbed nine boards, McConnell made five assists, and Love had three steals.
NEXT: George Fox hosts Lewis & Clark Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. as the makeup of a game that was snowed out on Feb. 8. The women's game precedes the men's at 6:00 p.m. … There will be several special events around the games, including a celebration of National Girls and Women in Sports Day, recognition of all senior women student-athletes, student trainers, dancers and cheerleaders, honoring the Bruins' NWC women's championship teams in golf and track and field, and observation of the "Pink Zone" program for the promotion of breast cancer awareness and cancer research. For complete details, see the full story at http://athletics.georgefox.edu/sports/wbkb/2013-14/releases/promos2-1 ... Whitworth hosts Whitman Tuesday, also at 8:00 p.m. after the women's game at 6:00 p.m.