Willamette Battles 10th-Ranked George Fox Late into Game, but Bruins Prevail, 70-55

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University led 10th ranked George Fox University early in the second half, 26-25, and the Bearcats trailed by just six points, 53-47, with 5:50 remaining, but GFU avoided the upset by defeating WU, 70-55, Friday, Jan. 23 at Cone Field House. The Bruins remained undefeated at 16-0, while improving to 7-0 in the Northwest Conference. Willamette dropped to 1-12 on the season, 0-7 in the NWC.

Molly Fillion (Sr., G, Silverton, OR/Silverton HS/Linn-Benton CC) led the Bearcats with 18 points. She also earned five rebounds and two steals. Jenny Fillion (Sr., G, Silverton, OR/Silverton HS/Linn-Benton CC) tacked on 11 points and seven boards.

George Fox was paced by Kristen Shielee, who scored 17 points and earned eight boards. Shielee was the only player for GFU in double figures. Elise Kuenzi grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds to go with eight points. The Bruins made just 19 of 33 free throws (57.6%), including just 5 of 15 in the first half.

The Bearcats were tied with the Bruins five times in the first half, including 14-14 following a 3-pointer by Molly Fillion with 7:15 remaining. George Fox tallied the next eight points, capped off by a trifecta from Arianna Mohsenian at the 2:40 mark.

WU pulled within 25-22 at the half. The 8-3 run by the Bearcats included seven points by Jenny Fillion. She scored on a jumper, plus a layup and a foul shot, followed by another layup with three seconds on the clock.

Kaileigh Westermann (Fr., Post, McMinnville, OR/McMinnville HS) and Nicki Clowdsley (So., Post, Sammamish, WA/Skyline HS) hit jumpers to start the second half, as Willamette moved in front, 26-25, with 18:26 remaining.

The Bruins answered with a 3-pointer by Keisha Gordon at the 18:05 mark to regain the lead, 28-26. George Fox remained in front and eventually took a 40-33 advantage on a 3-pointer by B.B. Gardner with 12:15 to play.

Alex Zennan (So., G/PG, Sammamish, WA/Eastlake HS) buried a 3-pointer for the 'Cats to cut the lead to 40-36, but GFU went on a 10-2 run to take control of the game. The Bruins were in front, 50-38, with 8:10 left. Even so, the Bearcats clawed back within 53-47 on a layup by Keilyn Fujioka (So., Post, Kailua, HI/Iolani School) at the 5:50 mark.

A 6-0 offensive surge by the Bruins build the lead back to 12 points. George Fox led by at least eight the rest of the way, including 61-53 at the 3:01 mark. GFU ended the contest with a 9-2 run.

Willamette held the Bruins to 27.3% shooting (9 of 33) from the field in the first half, but GFU improved to 52.0% (13 of 25) in the second half. The Bruins achieved a 38-35 rebounding margin.

The Bearcats also struggled from the field in the first half (8 of 23, 34.8%), but shot 46.4% (13 of 28) over the final 20 minutes. Willamette remained competitive throughout the game by playing solid defense and by hitting 8 of 10 free throws.

GFU finished 19 of 33 at the free throw line, but improved its percentage significantly when the Bruins made 8 of 8 charity shots in the final 2:22. The Bruins also benefited from 28 turnovers and 22 fouls by the Bearcats during the game.

Willamette will play again on Saturday, Jan. 24, at the University of Puget Sound. Game time in Tacoma, Wash., is set for 6 p.m. (PST).

BOX SCORE
George Fox University 70
Willamette University 55
Molly Fillion scored 18 points in WU's game with 10th-ranked George Fox at Cone Field House .

Molly Fillion scored 18 points in WU's game with 10th-ranked George Fox at Cone Field House .

Jenny Fillion scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds.

Jenny Fillion scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds.