George Fox Breaks Open Close Game, Downs Willamette, 68-55

Bruins use 12-0 run to extend 32-31 halftime lead

By Timothy Walsh, Assistant Athletics Communications Director

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University led for the first ten minutes of the game, but nationally-ranked George Fox University scored the first 12 points of the second half and never looked back, defeating Willamette 68-55 in a women's basketball game at Cone Field House on Sat., January 5.

Rebecca Josephson (Jr., G, Fair Oaks, CA/Del Campo HS) scored 11 points, while Julia Brand (So., F, Kaneohe, HI/Punahou School) chipped in six points and eight rebounds for the Bearcats, who dropped to 0-12 on the year, 0-3 in the Northwest Conference.

For George Fox, ranked 24th in D3hoops.com's latest poll, Hannah Munger posted game-highs in three categories, scoring 20 points while also earning 11 rebounds and three blocks. Megan Arnoldy (12 points) and Jami Roos (11 points) also hit double figures for GFU. The Bruins improved to 10-3 this year, 3-1 in the NWC.

Willamette opened the game on a tear, forcing the Bruins into five turnovers in the game's first five minutes. After a George Fox turnover on the game's first possession, Katie Kalugin (So., F, Woodburn, OR/Woodburn HS), put the Bearcats on top with a jumper.

A jumper from Brand and a three-pointer from Josephson extended the lead, before Jo Johnston (Fr., C, Missoula, MT/Florence-Carlton HS) nailed another jumper to put WU on top 9-2.

Willamette later extended the lead to 15-5 on a jumper from Ali Babij (Fr., F, Ontario, OR/Ontario HS/Colorado College) with 12:41 left in the first half, but Josephson picked up her second foul shortly thereafter. The Bruins quickly closed the gap, scoring seven points in less than three minutes to close within 15-12.

The Bearcats pushed the lead back to as many as five on two more occasions: first on a pair of free throw shots from Katelyn Nordlien (So., F, Salem, OR/ North Salem HS), and later on another jumper from Kalugin with 8:39 remaining in the period.

But after Kalugin's bucket, the Bruins scored the game's next five points, knotting the game at 19 with just under six minutes left in the first half.

From there, WU and George Fox traded buckets until halftime, with the Bearcats grabbing their last lead of the game on a three-pointer from Sophie Wilson (Sr., G, Port Townsend, WA/Port Townsend HS). Wilson's three made the score 31-30 in favor of Willamette with 1:23 on the clock.

The Bruins, however, got a jumper from Nicole Blizzard with under a minute left to claim a 32-31 halftime lead.

Despite the Bearcats' impressive first half – George Fox allowed just 35 points in an entire game to fellow NWC member Linfield College on Friday, January 4 – the Bruins turned the tables at the start the second period.

While getting points from each of their first six trips down the court, GFU forced Willamette into six missed field goals and a turnover on the other end of the court. A three-pointer from Nordlien helped stem the tide, bringing the Bearcats within 10 at the 15:52 mark.

The Bruins, however, quickly pushed the lead back to 15 with a layup from Arnoldy and a three-pointer from Blizzard, and a jumper from Munger gave the Bruins a 56-38 lead with 8:34 to play.

Willamette rallied, putting together a 6-0 run that Mackenzie Lamson (Jr., F, Portland, OR/Lincoln HS) capped with a jumper with 5:18 left. But a pair of buckets from Munger and Arnoldy pushed George Fox's lead back to 16, and the Bearcats drew no closer than 11 points the rest of the way.

After shooting 41.9% from the field (13 of 31) in the first half, WU fell back to 33.8% shooting for the game (24 of 71). The Bruins connected on just 37.7% of their shots for the game (20 of 53), but earned 9 team blocks and benefited from a sizable advantage at the foul line, connecting on 25 of 30 charity shots (83.3%).

Willamette 2-2 for the game from the foul line (100%), and were outrebounded 50-31. However, the Bearcats forced the Bruins into 21 turnovers, while committing just 11 of their own.

The Bearcats will return to Cone Field House next Friday, January 11, for a matchup with undefeated Lewis & Clark College, currently ranked #6 in the nation by D3hoops.com. The game will be part of an NWC doubleheader, with the nightcap featuring Willamette's men also taking on L&C.

Tipoff for the women's game is scheduled for 6 p.m. (PST).

BOX SCORE

George Fox University 68
Willamette University 55

Photo gallery
(By Naomi Stukey, Photographer for Willamette Athletics)

Rebecca Josephson led Willamette with 11 points, despite being limited by foul trouble.

Rebecca Josephson led Willamette with 11 points, despite being limited by foul trouble.