By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
NEWBERG, Ore. -- Ryan Lacey of George Fox University scored on a seven-foot jumper, was fouled, and hit the free throw with 0.7 left on the clock, as the Bruins slipped past Willamette University, 92-91, in Northwest Conference men's basketball action on Friday, Feb. 15. Willamette held a 91-89 lead after Jordan Jenkins (Sr., F, Placentia, CA/Valencia HS) put in a layup for the Bearcats with 5.5 seconds remaining.
After Lacey completed the three-point play, the Bearcats used their final timeout before in-bounding the ball. Dylan Streett (Fr., G, Santa Barbara, CA/Bishop Diego HS) threw a full-court pass that Jenkins grabbed while guarded near the basket. Jenkins launched a ball over his head toward the basket, which was about two feet behind him, but it bounced off the rim.
George Fox completed its regular season at 13-12 overall, 7-9 in the NWC. Willamette dropped to 8-16 overall, 5-10 in the NWC.
Jenkins led all players in scoring with 28 points. He was 11 of 17 from the field. He also hauled down a game-high nine rebounds, to go along with four assists, two steals and a blocked shot. Jenkins has scored 479 points this season, giving him 1,087 points in his carerer. He has grabbed 578 career rebounds.
Other top scorers for WU on Friday were Justus Eaglesmith (So., G, Sparks, NV/Spanish Springs HS), Jonathan Watts (Fr., G, San Diego, CA/Rancho Bernardo HS) and Trent Callan (Sr., G, Portland, OR/Lincoln HS). Eaglesmith and Watts each produced 18 points. Eaglesmith went 6 for 9 on 3-pointers. Watts was 7 of 11 overall with five assists and three steals. Callan added 12 points and five assists for the Bearcats. Ben Sutton (So., F, Seattle, WA/Ingraham HS) provided eight points and six boards and three steals.
"Amazing game," Willamette Head Coach Kip Ioane said. "Hats off to George Fox for making one more play than us. I'm extremely proud of our team for the way they competed. That was a playoff atmosphere."
GFU remained in the race for the NWC Tournament. The Bruins will qualify if University of Puget Sound loses to Whitworth University in Tacoma, Washington, on Saturday (Feb. 16). Both GFU and Puget Sound would be 7-9 in the NWC, but the Bruins hold the tie-breaker. With a victory in Friday's game, the Bearcats would have been in a situation similar to GFU. Willamette will host Lewis & Clark College on Saturday at 6 p.m. in Cone Field House.
Mason Green-Richards earned 21 points and was 8 of 14 shooting for the Bruins. He made 3 of 5 three-point attempts. Michael Mercado-Smith tacked on 17 points, while hitting 6 of 8 attempts, including 3 for 5 on 3-pointers. Dylan Hamlett scored 13 points and grabbed a team-high eight boards. Lacey finished with 12 points and six assists.
The Bearcats scored the first nine points of the game on a 3-pointer by Eaglesmith, a layup and foul shot by Jenkins, and a 3-pointer from Watts. GFU took its first timeout just 1:38 into the game. Willamette eventually held a 14-2 lead following a fast-break layup by Watts with 15:38 left in the first half.
George Fox gradually rallied. The Bruins pulled within four points at 20-16 on a 3-pointer from the left elbow by Green-Richards with 10:38 on the clock. After Callan scored on a driving layup for the Bearcats, GFU reduce the margin to 22-19 on a 3-pointer by JD Ahlstrom. Later, WU used an 8-4 run to grab a 32-25 lead on a basket by Jenkins with 6:47 to go.
The Bruins countered by tallying eight of the next 10 points to cut Willamette's lead to 34-33. Eaglesmith stopped the run with a 3-pointer at the 4:32 mark. GFU scored the next seven points to move in front 41-37, while starting a 15-5 surge that gave the Bruins a 48-42 advantage at halftime. George Fox made 10 of its last 13 shots in the half.
Hamlett added a layup for GFU to open the second half, but the Bearcats embarked on an 18-2 run for a 60-52 lead with 14:46 left. The explosion started with a 3-pointer by Eaglesmith before Jenkins scored on a layup. After a basket by Green-Richards, Willamette tacked on five more layups -- three on fast-breaks. Jenkins completed the run with a 3-pointer from the top of the key.
Jenkins converted a traditional 3-point play at the 10:12 mark to give WU a 67-59 edge. A bit later, Watts scored on a layup during an in-bounds play for a 71-62 lead with 9:24 to play. Four 3-pointers by George Fox over the next five minutes, helped the Bruins reduce the margin to 79-78 at the 4:36 mark.
The Bearcats were in front 86-82 on a 3-pointer by Watts with 2:43 left and led 89-85 following a 3-pointer by Eaglesmith with 2:17 on the clock. A jumper by Jackson Januik as the clock ticked under 2:00, and a pair of free throws by Ahlstrom with 0:33 remaining, tied the score at 89-89. Willamette held the ball until the basket by Jenkins with 5.5 seconds left.
The Bearcats shot 57.9% for the game (33 of 57) and made 14 of 20 free throws (70.0%). George Fox connected on 51.6% of its field goals (33 of 64) and hit 16 of 16 free throws. Both teams excelled from 3-point range, as Willamette knocked down 11 of 23 attempts (47.8%) and GFU went 10 of 22 (45.5%). The Bruins held a slim 29-28 rebounding edge.
Big Moment of the Game for Willamette
Jordan Jenkins put in a layup for the Bearcats with 5.5 seconds left for
a 91-89 lead. He received a pass near the free throw line from Ben Sutton
and drove to the hoop. George Fox won the game on a basket a foul shot
with less than one second to go. Even so, it was another of Jenkins' many
great games this year. He made 11 field goals and scored 28 points. He has
scored 91 points in Willamette's last three games.