NEWBERG, Ore. – A torrid second half by Tayler Wang, who scored 17 points in the period and 19 in all, enabled the Lewis & Clark College Pioneers to take sole possession of first place in the Northwest Conference women's basketball race with a 64-59 victory over the George Fox University Bruins Friday night here at the Wheeler Sports Center's Miller Gym.
George Fox, ranked 18th in both NCAA Division III national polls, slipped to 14-4 overall as its six-game winning streak was snapped and 7-2 in the conference, tied for second with Whitman College, which defeated Pacific Lutheran University 64-57. Lewis & Clark, 8th in the D3hoops poll and 9th in the WBCA poll, won its sixth in a row to climb to 17-1 overall and 8-1 in the league.
Megan Hays put the Bruins on the board with a layup 17 seconds into the game before the Pioneers notched a three-pointer by Casey Zinn, a free throw by Sara Villanueva, and a layup by Wang for a 6-2 lead. Hays tied it with back-to-back layins, but an 8-2 run, capped by a Katie Anderson three, gave Lewis & Clark its largest lead of 14-8 with 14:04 left in the period.
The Bruins answered with an 8-1 run of their own, Hays scoring a free throw and layup, Kayla Miner a three, and Hayley Cusick a drive to give the Bruins a 16-15 lead with 9:45 left. There were three more ties in the half, the last at 22-22 following an Anderson layup with 1:11 to go, but the Bruins got a pair of free throws each by McKenzie Wolfe and Justine Benner to build a 26-22 halftime margin.
The first eight minutes of the second half were essentially a basket swap until a three by Miner and a Megan Arnoldy putback extended the George Fox lead to seven at 43-36 with 10:39 to go. It was still a seven-point lead after Wolfe hit two free throws to make it 45-38 with 9:23 left - and then Wang went to work keeping her team in the game. Over the next five minutes, she collected a trio of threes and four free throws for 13 points, the last two freebies drawing the Pios within one at 52-51 with 4:30 left.
The Bruins twice built their lead back to three, once on a layup by Benner and again on a Cusick free throw, but Anderson made a layup, a steal, and a free throw to pull the Pios even 55-55 with three minutes to go. A jumper by Kristina Williams gave L&C its first lead of the half at the 2:36 mark before Hays evened it for the last time 57-57 with a rebound basket at 2:23.
Anderson gave the Pios the lead for good with a steal and score at 1:31, and following a Cusick free throw, Reese DeHart extended the L&C lead to 61-58 with 1:06 left. Wolfe hit one of two free throws with 48 ticks remaining, but the Pios sealed the win with three charity tosses in the final 26 seconds as the Bruins missed their final two shots and made a turnover.
Hays led the Bruins with 15 points, hitting 7-9 from the floor, while Wolfe added 11 and Miner nine, all on threes. Arnoldy had a career-high 15 rebounds as the Bruins held a 46-45 edge on the boards. Cusick and Jami Roos handed out four assists each, Cusick made three steals, and Hays posted three blocked shots.
Wang and Williams each had double-doubles for the Pios, Wang with 19 points and 10 rebounds and Williams with 16 and 11. Anderson chipped in with 11 points, while DeHart had eight points and nine boards. Villanueva passed out three assists, and Anderson had four steals.
The loss ended George Fox's home-court winning streak against all opponents at 43, their streak against NWC opponents in regular-season play at 54, and their streak against NWC foes in all games including post-season action at 57.
NEXT: George Fox goes to Pacific University and Lewis & Clark returns home to host Linfield College Saturday, both at 6:00 p.m. NWC men's games will follow at 8:00 p.m.