March 8, 2009

 

NEWBERG, Ore. – Handing the Chapman University Panthers yet another road defeat in the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball National Championship Tournament, the George Fox University Bruins advanced to the “Sweet 16” for the second straight year with an 83-40 victory Saturday night here at the Wheeler Sports Center’s Miller Gym.


George Fox, ranked No. 2 in the WBCA poll and No. 3 in by D3hoops, remain one of two D-III women’s unbeatens as the Bruins moved to 28-0.  Chapman’s season ends at 20-9; the Panthers have made the national tournament as an independent nine years in a row but have yet to advance past the second round.    


George Fox has been one of the major reasons why Chapman has not advanced further, having defeated the Panthers all four times the teams have met, three of them in the NCAA playoffs, and all three of those on the Bruins’ home court.  Their one non-tournament meeting came here this season back on Dec. 13, an 82-52 win by the Bruins as the Panthers were making a swing through the Pacific Northwest.


Chapman opened the game with a full-court press and a hot hand from the field, opening up a 6-1 lead in the first three minutes on jumpers by Andrijana Kerkez and Linda Ly and a fast-break layup by Ly.


“That’s their style,” said George Fox coach Scott Rueck about the Panthers.  “They like to create chaos; they need turnovers.  Once we got over the early jitters, we did a good job of taking care of the ball.”


Point guard B.B. Gardner hit a short jumper with 16:45 left in the period, igniting a 9-0 run over the next four minutes that gave the Bruins a 10-6 lead.  Tara Glennon’s basket for the Panthers ended that run, but the Bruins then out-scored the visitors 13-2, with five different players scoring, to forge ahead 23-10 with 6:25 left.  Chapman got within single digits one more time, on a layup by Anina Middleton to make it 23-14 Bruins at the 4:12 mark, before the Bruins closed the period with a 9-4 burst to lead 32-18 at the break.


The Bruins completed the first half with a sizzling .545 shooting percentage (12-22) while the Panthers managed only a .257 mark (9-35).  Chapman missed all eight of its three-point attempts in the first half.


“After our first game against them up here back in December, what we wanted to do was attack them in their 2-2-1 press,” said Chapman coach Carol Jue.  “We did fine at first and got some good fast breaks, but then we stopped hitting out shots.  When that happens, we can’t press, and that’s our bread-and-butter.”


The Panthers continued to struggle to find the basket in the second half, hitting only .286 (10-35) in the final 20 minutes, and the Bruins took advantage to pull away.  Sage Indendi’s three at 16:39 gave George Fox its first 20-point lead at 44-22, a pair of free throws by Keisha Gordon boosted the margin to 30 at 52-22 with 14:27 left, and they hit a 40-point margin of 73-33 with a trey by Gardner with 5:30 remaining.  The Bruins’ largest lead was 44 at 83-39 on a pair of free throws by Samantha Simmons with 16 ticks left.


When the two teams met back in December, Chapman had resorted to fouling late in the game in an effort to catch up, resulting in a George Fox record 33 free throws made.  The Panthers went to the tactic again in this one, resulting in a 20-for-26 second half of shooting from the stripe for the Bruins.


The Bruins finished with a balanced attack as all five starters scored in double figures, and all 12 Bruins who played scored.  Gordon and Indendi had 12 apiece, Kristen Shielee and Gardner 11 each, and Kuenzi had 10.  The Bruins hit exactly half their shots from the field (25-50), and were an accurate .444 (8-18) on threes.  Kuenzi’s game-high nine rebounds led to a 46-34 advantage on the glass for the home team.  Gordon and Indendi handed out four assists each.


Middleton and Ly had 10 points apiece to pace the Panthers, who wound up making 19-for-70 (.271) from the floor and only 1-for-18 (.056) from beyond the arc.  Lauren Kamiyama led the Panthers with seven rebounds and six assists.


The Bruins will next face the Oglethorpe University Stormy Petrels (27-3) from Atlanta, Ga., a Final Four team last year, in the next round.  Where that will be is unknown at this time, though an announcement as to the pairings and sites for the four upcoming four-team sectionals is expected some time Sunday.