FOREST GROVE, Ore. – Jami Roos sank four free throws in the final minute, the first breaking a 57-57 tie that gave the nationally-ranked George Fox University Bruins the lead for good on the way to a 61-57 Northwest Conference women's basketball victory over the Pacific University Boxers Saturday night here at the Stoller Center.
George Fox, ranked 18th in both NCAA Division III national polls, improved to 15-4 overall and 8-2 in the conference, one game behind front-running Lewis & Clark College and tied for second with Whitman College, which defeated the University of Puget Sound 59-40. Pacific, which took George Fox to overtime before the Bruins prevailed 61-56 on Dec. 22, slipped to 12-6 overall and 5-5 in the NWC, two games behind fourth-place Whitworth University.
There were three ties in the first five minutes of the game before the Bruins forged ahead 11-6 on a three-pointer by Justine Benner and a jumper in the lane by Megan Hays. The Boxers got two baskets by Paige Jensen around a jumper by Kati Sheldon to go up 12-11, but Roos nailed a three to give the Bruins a 14-12 advantage with 11:28 to go in the half. A jumper by Alex Pfefferle knotted it for the final time in the half 14-14 at the 10:53 mark.
Hayley Cusick's coast-to-coast drive after securing a rebound gave the Bruins a 16-14 lead at 9:51, and they led the rest of the period, gradually extending the lead to as many as 12 points at 35-23 on a jumper by Benner with 2:14 left. Buckets by Aunhea Wall and Jensen, who had 14 first-half points, brought the Boxers within eight at 35-27 at the break.
The Bruins never trailed in the second half but could never put away the feisty Boxers, who used a 9-2 run early in the final stanza to pull within two at 38-36 with 15:41 left in the game on a free throw by Jensen. McKenzie Wolfe hit two jumpers and two free tosses in an 9-0 Bruin run that pushed the lead back to 11 at 47-36 with 12:48 to go, and Nicole Blizzard's three made it a 12-point margin again of 52-40 with 9:37 left.
The Boxers fought back with a 17-5 stretch over the next eight-and-a-half minutes, Erica Colter contributing six points in the rally on a layup, free throw, and three-pointer, and Pfefferle tied it 57-57 with a putback of her own miss with 1:00 remaining. Roos was fouled three seconds later and broke the tie with a pair of charity tosses, and Jensen missed two potential tying jumpers before Colter missed a three-point try with nine seconds left that would have given Pacific the lead. Roos sealed the win for George Fox by sinking a pair from the line with two seconds to go.
Roos led the Bruins with 15 points, including a trio of threes, while Benner and Hays added 10 each. Hays notched her first double-double with 10 rebounds, leading the Bruins to a 37-34 edge on the boards. Cusick passed out a game-high five assists and made four steals.
Jensen had a double-double of her own with 24 points and 10 rebounds, and also made five steals, just above her average of 4.2 steals per game which ranks seventh in the nation. Colter scored 10 points and Pfefferle nine, and each had four assists.
NEXT: George Fox hosts Willamette University and Pacific goes to Whitman Friday, both games tipping off at 6:00 p.m. before the men's teams play at 8:00 p.m.