By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore -- George Fox University got off to a quick start, but Daniel Plumer (Jr., PG, North Las Vegas, NV/Democracy Preparatory Academy) of Willamette University scored 24 points and the Bearcats rallied to within two points early in the second half, before the Bruins won 100-91 on Friday, January 14 at Cone Field House. The Northwest Conference win improved the Bruins to 8-5 on the season, including 3-1 in the NWC. Willamette slipped to 4-9 overall, 1-4 in the NWC.
George Fox scored the first six points of the game and led 14-2 on a layup by James Moore just over five minutes into the opening half. The Bruins held a 30-15 lead at the 10-minute mark following a 3-point basket by Adam Damian. Willamette countered with a 9-0 offensive surge on the strength of two jump shots by Jack Boydell (Jr., F, Sonoma, CA/Sonoma Valley HS), a 3-pointer from Jonathan Watts (Sr., W, San Diego, CA/Rancho Bernardo HS), and a layup by Plumer. The shot by Plumer reduced the margin to 30-24 with 7:30 to go before halftime.
A bit later, Willamette moved within 34-32 on a 3-pointer by Josiah Frank (Fy., G, Turlock, CA/John H. Pitman HS) as the clock reached 5:20. The Bruins answered with a 9-0 run that ended with five points by Damian on a 3-pointer and a put-back layup for a 43-34 advantage. WU scored next on a layup by Cedric Coward (Fy., F, Fresno, CA/Central HS) and then Frank hit a 3-pointer for the Bearcats. Zac Schmerber added a jumper for GFU with 35 seconds left to give the Bruins a 45-37 halftime lead.
Willamette put in nine of the first 12 points to begin the second half, starting with six points from Plumer. The run ended with a 3-pointer by Boydell that brought the Bearcats as close as 48-46 with 17:36 to play. The Bruins scored the next six points on 3-pointers by Kalu Stricklin and Austin Clark for a 54-46 lead.
The Bearcats trailed 57-51 after Watts made a jumper in the paint at the 15:01 mark, but George Fox followed with an 8-0 run that opened with a 3-point shot by Schmerber and ended with a 3-pointer by Damian. GFU owned a 65-51 lead. The Bruins were 13 of 21 on 3-point shots (61.9%) during the game, including 8 of 11 (72.7%) in the second half.
A couple of minutes later, Willamette began a 6-0 run that cut the Bruins' advantage from 14 points to eight points at 69-61 with 9:46 remaining. Watts hit two free throws and then Coward, Boydell, and Plumer each added a two-point basket. The Bruins responded with a 10-0 surge to grab a 79-61 margin with less than eight minutes to go.
Willamette trailed 88-71 with 4:51 to play but the Bearcats went on a 14-4 run featuring 3-pointers by Plumer and Watts. The trifecta from Watts moved WU within 92-85 with 1:26 left. Brendan Ritschard tacked on two free throws for GFU and Coward added a pair of free throws for Willamette, leaving the Bruins with a 94-87 lead with 1:19 on the clock. Stricklin of GFU was fouled after the in-bounds pass and sank both free throws for a 96-87 lead.
Watts hit a 3-pointer for Willamette eight seconds later at the 1:08 mark, but he was called for traveling, which wiped out the basket. Schmerber made two free throws for the Bruins with 1:02 to go, as GFU took a 97-87 lead.
Palmer's 24 points included an 8-for-12 performance on field goals, including 4-of-6 on 3-point shots. he also went 4 for 4 at the line and hauled down four rebounds. Boydell finished with 20 points and was 8 of 13 from the field.
Coward provided WU with a double-double on 19 points and 16 boards, while earning two assists and two blocks. Coward was 7 of 10 on field goals. Watt contributed 16 points, five boards, and four rebounds, while going 6 for 6 at the line. Frank chipped in nine points on three 3-pointers.
Stricklin and Ritschard tied for the Bruin's scoring lead with 18 points apiece. Stricklin hit 7 of 10 field goal attempts. Ritschard also led George Fox with 10 rebounds and five assists. Damian scored 16 points for the Bruins.
George Fox ended the evening with 56.3% shooting from the field (36 of 64). The Bruins went 15 for 19 at the free throw line for 78.9%. GFU earned a slim 33-32 rebounding edge.
The Bearcats shot 48.4% for the game (31 of 64), including 56.3% in the second half (18 of 32). WU hit 11 of 27 three-point shots (40.7%) and made 18 of 23 three throws (78.3%)
Willamette will remain at home to take on Lewis & Clark College on Saturday, Jan. 15. Game time at Cone Field House is set for 6 p.m. (PST).