George Fox Rallies in Closing Minutes to Edge Bearcats, 96-93

Manu Scores 20 Points to Lead Five Bearcats in Double Figures

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, ORE. -- George Fox University hit three 3-point baskets within a 30-second span late in the game, helping the Bruins rally from a 10-point deficit in the final 2:35 for a 96-93 win over Willamette University, in Northwest Conference men's basketball action on Friday, Jan. 25. The Bruins made the trio of 3-point shots between 1:25 remaining and 55 seconds left.

GFU upped its record to 11-5, including 4-3 in the NWC. Willamette moved to 3-13 overall, 1-6 in the NWC.

Willamette led 89-79 with 2:35 left. GFU cut the margin to eight points on a layup by Jonny Howard with 2:20 to go. Spencer Bolte rebounded a missed field goal by WU with 1:37 left, and Jason Martin sank a 3-pointer 12 seconds later. Following a turnover, Howard tacked on a trifecta at the 1:10 mark.

Another turnover by Willamette with 1:01 remaining led to a 3-pointer by Martin to give the Bruins a 90-89 advantage.

There were two more ties and four lead changes in the final 44 seconds, before GFU escaped Cone Field House with the win.

The Bruins won despite allowing Willamette to shoot 61.4% for the game (35 of 57), while George Fox shot 42.5% from the field (31 of 73). The Bruins grabbed 16 offensive rebounds and forced Willamette into 21 turnovers. GFU connected on 26 of 30 free throws (86.7%), including 17 of 17 in the second half. WU was 15 for 21 (71.4%) at the line.

After GFU moved in front, Willamette regained the lead when Alex Hansen (Sr., Wing, Reno, NV/Galena HS) made two free throws with 44 second on the clock.

A.J. Grant put in a jump shot with 27 seconds remaining, as the Bruins took a 92-91 advantage. Avery Manu (Sr., Wing, Pocatello, ID/Highland HS) answered for WU by hitting a jumper with 12 seconds left, as the Bearcats earned a 93-92 lead.

On the game's next possession, Grant took a short jumper with just over three seconds left, but his attempt was blocked by Kyle McNally (Jr., F, Salem, OR/Sprague HS) of Willamette. Several players battled for the rebound, with Bolte of GFU gaining control. He was fouled with 1.3 seconds left and hit both free throws, giving the Bruins a 94-93 lead.

Willamette committed a turnover on the in-bounds play. Afterward, the Bruins sent the ball back into action and Grant was fouled with 0.7 on the clock. He converted both free throws to achieve the final score.

Grant scored 26 points for the Bruins, while Bolte added 20 points and seven rebounds. Howard contributed 16 points.

Willamette placed five players in double figures, led by Manu with 20 points. Manu connected on 8 of 10 field goals and earned six assists. Hansen and Joseph Jackson (Jr., Wing, Hillsboro, OR/Hillsboro HS) each tallied 17 points.

McNally recorded a double-double for the Bearcats with 12 points and 10 boards, while providing five assists and four blocks. Alex Brown (Jr., F, Happy Valley, OR/Clackamas HS) finished with 14 points and five rebounds. Brandon Luedtke (So., F, Meridian, ID/Mt. View HS) scored nine points, grabbed four rebounds and earned three steals before fouling out with 3:47 left in the game.

The Bearcats led for most of the night.

GFU struck first on a 3-pointer by Martin, but WU rallied to take a 7-3 lead. The Bruins eventually claimed a 15-14 edge on a basket and foul shot by Seth Brent with 12:51 left in the half. Each team held the lead momentarily over the next 2:30, including a 21-19 lead for WU following a 3-pointer by Jackson at the 10:21 mark.

Howard converted two free throws for the Bruins at the 10:10 mark, as the score reached 21-21 -- the sixth and final tie of the half. Jackson made a 3-pointer for Willamette with 9:58 remaining and added his third 3-pointer of the half with 9:20 on the clock to give the Bearcats a 27-21 lead.

WU extended its advantage to 33-23 with 7:49 left on a layup by Luedtke. The advantage stretched to 39-27 when Bridger Harlington (So., Wing, Lake Tapps, WA/Auburn Riverside HS) put in a layup with 3:21 to go.

The Bearcats recorded their largest lead, 46-31, on a pair of free throws by Hansen with as the game reached the 1:10 mark. WU was in front 46-35 at the break.

In the second half, Willamette owned a 60-46 advantage following a layup by Manu with 13:53 to play. GFU pulled within 60-43 on a 3-pointer by Mitchell Rettmann at the 12:28 mark, and the Bruins eventually cut the deficit to 67-63 with 8:55 on the clock.

An 8-0 run gave the Bearcats a 75-63 margin with 7:01 left. GFU pulled within seven points on three occasions before WU increased the lead to 83-72 with 4:03 remaining.

Each team made eight 3-pointers during the game. George Fox was 5 of 21 from 3-point range before the Bruins hit their last three attempts to finish 8 of 24. Willamette put through 8 of 15 three-point shots.

Willamette will travel to Parkland, Wash., on Saturday (Jan. 25) to take on Pacific Lutheran University. Game time is scheduled for 8 p.m. (PST).

George Fox University 96
Willamette University 93

Post-game Interview

Photo Gallery (Photos by Naomi Stukey, photographer for Willamette Athletics)

Avery Manu put in 20 points for Willamette, while hitting 8 of 10 field goals.

Avery Manu put in 20 points for Willamette, while hitting 8 of 10 field goals.