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McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Jason Martin scored 17 points and George Fox held on through a wild overtime finish for a 71-67 NWC victory over Linfield Friday night at Ted Wilson Gymnasium.
Andrew Batiuk led all scorers with 24 points, adding 10 rebounds for a double-double. Brandon Harris had 15 points for Linfield, and Zach Meikle added 10 points and eight rebounds.
George Fox’s Sean Atkins, currently ranking second among NWC leaders with 19 points per game, was held to 10.
After opening the game cold, Linfield benefitted from consecutive field goals by Batiuk and Harris, bringing the Wildcats’ lead to 6-2 five minutes into the game. An ensuing 3-pointer from Meikle was matched by a long-range bucket from A.J. Grant, and the score stood at 8-5.
A pair of deep threes from Martin cut the Wildcats’ lead to 13-11 midway through the first. A three from Nick Cantonwine sandwiched between a pair of buckets from Batiuk gave Linfield its largest lead of the game, 24-16.
Linfield (2-10, 1-2 NWC) maintained its distance through the closing minutes, and the ‘Cats boasted a 33-24 lead at the half.
Batiuk’s presence underneath was uncontested, as the sophomore phenom exploded for 11 points in the first. Linfield’s center also grabbed five rebounds and recorded three steals.
Grant paced the Bruins with nine points in the period, and Anthony Sanchez recorded four boards. Atkins, an honorable mention all-NWC selection last season as a sophomore, was held to just two points in the half.
George Fox (6-4, 2-0 NWC) came out of the break with a burst of energy, and narrowed the gap to 35-30 with just over 16 minutes to play. Linfield responded, however, as Kevin Hurley and Meikle connected on back-to-back mid-range jumpers.
Following the script he wrote in the first, Martin drained yet another deep three, this time giving the Bruins a 44-43 lead. Another three from Sanchez less than a minute later gave George Fox some breathing room with less than 10 minutes to play. The 6-0 run by the Bruins marked the first time Linfield relinquished its advantage since the first minute of the game.
A layup from Batiuk with under two minutes remaining put the ‘Cats within two, 57-55. Despite a last-second turnover, a tip-in from the Bruins' Seth Brent was too late and the teams headed to extra time.
The teams traded buckets to open the extra period, but George Fox streaked ahead when Grant, Martin and Sanchez sunk three consecutive shots from downtown.
Batiuk hit a crucial three with 37 seconds remaining to put the ‘Cats within two, 69-67. Despite a Bruins turnover with 20 seconds left, Linfield could not turn the mishap into a game-tying bucket, and George Fox held on for the victory.
‘CAT SCRATCH: The ‘Cats and Bruins have split their two annual contests in each of the last five seasons…the closest margin between the two teams in that time span came on Jan. 12, 2008 when Linfield edged George Fox 68-65 in McMinnville…the loss marked Linfield’s sixth game this season decided by five points or less…the ‘Cats have played in overtime three times this season, winning once.
AHEAD: Linfield hosts Pacific Lutheran on Saturday night in more NWC action. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. in Ted Wilson Gymnasium directly following the women’s game against the Lutes.