NEWBERG, Ore. – Though Linfield managed to slow down George Fox's high-octane offense to some extent, holding the Bruins 11 points below their season average, the Bruins took impressively good care of the basketball and shot better than 50 percent from the floor to earn an 84-69 victory over their county rivals Saturday night inside the Wheeler Sports Center.
George Fox committed only seven turnovers for the game and shot 52.9 percent from the field to come away victorious from the first Northwest Conference bout of the season. Linfield, meanwhile, made just 12 miscues – six each half – and knocked down 42.6 percent of its looks at the basket, but did not get nearly as many field goal opportunities (51) as the Bruins (68).
Rookies Tanner Brill (Fr., Longview, Wash.) and Ryan Potter (Fr., Molalla, Ore.) paced the 'Cats (2-3, 0-1 NWC) with 14 and 12 points, respectively. The two combined for six of Linfield's 11 conversions from beyond the arc, providing some late-game excitement for the large group of Wildcat faithful that made the trip to Newberg. A late deluge of 3-point shooting pulled the ‘Cats, who trailed by as many as 22 points in the second half, to within 13 on two separate occasions, but Linfield could not get the defensive stops it needed to seriously challenge George Fox's sizeable lead.
Six Bruins scored in double figures, including Sean Atkins, who led all players with 16 points to go along with a game-high nine rebounds. Seth Brent hit 7-of-11 shots from the floor for 14 points, while Jason Martin contributed 12 more.
Scoring just 10 seconds after the opening tip, Linfield claimed its one and only lead of the game on a layup from Cody Jurgens (Soph., Hillsboro, Ore.). Sean Atkins responded with a layup on the other end, resulting in the first of three ties over the first 11 minutes of play.
The Bruins broke away for a 14-9 lead with 12:13 remaining, but a Potter 3-pointer and Brill layup brought the teams even once again. Spencer Bolte and Chris Dirks (Jr., Hood River, Ore.) traded buckets at opposite ends of the court before George Fox churned out 10 straight points and was off to the races.
Atkins expanded the Bruins' advantage to as many as 11 points with a 3-pointer with 3:37 to play before intermission. Linfield pulled to within four, 31-27, on a Dirks layup, but went to the locker room down 37-28.
A 14-3 run over the first five minutes of the second half gave the Bruins a commanding 20-point lead, one that never again dipped into the single digits. The second stanza played substantially quicker, with the teams totaling 88 points after combining for 65 in the first half.
Successive 3-pointers from Cory Hendryx (Sr., Scappoose, Ore.), Brill and Brill again made it a 13-point game with 4:39 to go before the Bruins rattled off six straight points to push the spread back to 19. Back-to-back 3-pointers from Potter brought the Wildcats to within 13 points once more, but a layup from Brent with 16 seconds on the clock put the final advantage at 15 for George Fox.
Ten of the 11 Wildcats who stepped onto the court scored in a balanced offensive effort for the visitors. Jurgens finished with nine points and six rebounds, while Hendryx scored eight points.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Linfield had 21 free-throw opportunities compared to just eight for George Fox, but the Wildcats shot only 66.7 percent (14-for-21) from the line…George Fox's Maco "Shark" Hamilton bettered Linfield's Shanan Rosenberg in the NWC head coaching debuts for both coaches...the Bruins won their third straight game against their county rivals.
AHEAD: Linfield's long stretch of away games continues with road contests against Northwest Christian and Humboldt State. After the Wildcats complete their final exams, their trip south begins with a 7:30 p.m. matchup against the Beacons in Eugene Saturday, Dec. 14.
Scores eight points
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