GEORGE FOX 70, WHITWORTH 59: Bruins Pop Pirates to Move into Tie for 1st in NWC

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NEWBERG, Ore. – Megan Arnoldy scored a game-high 21 points and McKenzie Wolfe posted her first career double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, leading the George Fox University Bruins to a 70-59 win over the Whitworth University Pirates in Northwest Conference women's basketball Friday night here at the Wheeler Sports Center's Miller Gym.

George Fox, ranked 25th in the latest WBCA and D3hoops national polls, improved to 11-3 overall and 4-1 in the conference, moving into a tie for first in the league with idle Whitman College and Lewis & Clark College, a 77-43 winner at Willamette University.  Whitworth, which handed Whitman its first conference loss on Tuesday, slipped to 10-5 overall and 3-3 in the NWC.

After Whitworth took a 2-0 lead on a layup by Emily Travis, the Bruins scored nine unanswered points in a 71-second span on a jumper by Justine Benner, a layup on an inbounds play by Hayley Cusick, a three-pointer by Jami Roos, and baseline drive by Arnoldy.  Jamie Lyons scored for the Pirates to halt the run, starting a 14-6 rally that gave Whitworth a 16-15 lead with 8:20 left.  Emily Guthrie nailed back-to-back threes, the second one banked in, to put the Pirates on top.

There were five ties and five lead changes over the next eight minutes before the Bruins broke a 31-31 tie on a Cusick layup with 24 seconds left.  Arnoldy canned two free throws with a second left to give the Bruins a 35-31 lead at the half.

Arnoldy led all scorers with 11 points in the half for the Bruins, who shot .500 (13-26) from the field.  Guthrie had nine points, all on three-pointers, to pace the Pirates, who connected for a .480 percentage (12-25).

The Bruins opened the second half with a 10-0 run while holding the Pirates scoreless for almost seven minutes to build a 45-31 lead, Cusick fueling the outburst with three driving layups.  Whitworth finally got on the board in the second half with a pair of Travis free throws with 13:06 left in the game.  Three times the Pirates closed within eight points, but each time the Bruins responded with baskets, twice by Arnoldy and once by Wolfe, to rebuild a 10-point lead.

Cusick gave the Bruins an 11-point lead with two free throws with 6:13 remaining, but the Pirates climbed within six at 55-49 on a layup by Kayla Johnson and a three by Guthrie at the 5:08 mark.  The Bruins answered with a jumper and two free throws by Roos and two freebies by Nicole Blizzard for a 61-49 advantage with 2:52 to play.  The George Fox lead twice reached 14 points as the Bruins scored their final 13 points on free throws, the Pirates being forced to foul in an effort to catch up.

Arnoldy hit 7-9 from the field and 7-8 from the line en route to her big night while getting scoring help from Wolfe, Roos with 14 (including 7-7 on free throws), and Cusick with 12.  Wolfe led the Bruins to a 42-30 margin on the boards, Roos passed out four assists, and Blizzard blocked three shots.  George Fox played without three key players - All-American center Hannah Munger, starting guard Dacia Heckendorf, and key 6-3 backup post Megan Hays - who sat out with injuries and are day-to-day.

Travis led the Pirates with 17 points and Guthrie added 12, all on threes.  Johnson had a team-high six rebounds and blocked two shots.  Lauren Picha handed out three assists, and Travis made three steals.  The Pirates were held to a .258 shooting percentage (8-31) in the second half as the Bruins pulled away.

NEXT: George Fox hosts Whitman Saturday in a matchup of ranked teams with first place on the line.  The Missionaries (11-2, NWC 4-1) are 19th in the D3hoops poll and 24th in the WBCA rankings.  Game time is 4:00 p.m. to give Whitman an early start back home to Walla Walla, Wash. ... Whitworth hosts Willamette next Friday at 8:00 p.m. ... Both games will be followed by NWC men's games.