NEWBERG, Ore. - The No. 4 Whitman College men's basketball team overcame a poor shooting night from both the field and the free throw line with defense and a 21-point effort from Joey Hewitt to top George Fox 81-69 in Northwest Conference action, Saturday at Wheeler Sports Center.
The Blues (14-1, 6-0 NWC) shot a season low 39% from the floor and their 55% (16-29) was second only to the 45% performance from the strip against Pomona Pitzer. Whitman, however, was able to distance itself from the Bruins in the second half to win its third road game of the week against teams that had just one combined league loss entering that stretch.
Austin Butler point forth a solid effort, finishing just shy of a double double with 12 points and nine rebounds while also adding nine dimes. Robert Colton gave the Blues a nice contribution off the bench with a season-high 11 points.
Whitman was less than impressive from beyond the arc as well, shooting just north of 40%. The tired legs may have affected their shooting but the Blues delivered one of their finer defensive efforts of the season, posting 14 steals and holding George Fox to 29% in three-point shooting.
Ryan Lacey led the George Fox effort with a team-best 20 points while also adding 10 rebounds. Wesley Reynolds posted 10 points and eight rebounds with Dylan Hamlett corralling 10 boards of his own.
The Blues struggled in the first half, trailing much of the way and by as many as eight points. Jaron Kirkley connected on a jumper to give the Blues a 19-17 lead but a 10-0 Bruin run ensued. Consecutive three pointers from Jackson Januik and Mason Green-Richards lifted GFU to a 27-19 lead with 6:57 to play. Whitman fought back but still found themselves on the wrong end of a 35-33 halftime score.
Whitman continued to trail in the second half before Trevor Osborne's three pointer tied the game at 39-39 with 16:24 to play. Hamletts dunk put the Bruins back up by four but Colton snatched the lead back for good. His bucket with 12:29 to play ignited a run of 13 unanswered points, putting Whitman up 62-50 with 9:25 remaining.
George Fox would cut the lead to eight points on three occasions but that was as close as it would get. The Blues held the Bruins at bay the rest of the game to gut out the win.
Whitman returns to action next weekend for its first home contests of the new year. The Blues square off with Pacific Lutheran on Friday, Jan. 12 at 8:00 p.m.