George Fox eases by Occidental
Bruins never trail but only win by seven to advance
ORANGE, Calif. – Hannah Munger and Keisha Gordon combined for 39 points, leading the George Fox University to a 53-46 win against the Occidental Tigers in the first round of the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Tournament at Chapman University’s Hutton Sports Center.
With their 12th consecutive win, the Northwest Conference champion Bruins (23-5) advanced to the second round to play Saturday at 7 p.m. against the winner of Friday’s second game between host Chapman and Louisiana College. The Tigers from the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, making their second NCAA Tournament appearance, had an eight-game winning streak snapped and finished their season at 19-9.
George Fox never trailed in the game, jumping out to 7-2 lead in the first two minutes on a 3-pointer by Gordon and two baskets by Munger, the Bruins’ All-NWC first-team duo. A jumper by Makenzie Brandon and two free throws by Stephanie Scamman brought the Tigers within one at 7-6 with 16:22 left, but that was as close as they would come.
The Tigers were still within in two points at 15-13 after a Michelle Lo free throw with 9:22 to play, but then went scoreless for more than 6:30 as the Bruins began to pull away. A Munger layup with 3:53 left gave the Bruins their first double-digit lead at 24-13 before they took a 28-19 lead into the break.
George Fox built its lead by shooting 42.3 (11 of 26) from the field while holding Occidental to 26.7 percent (8 of 30) and out-rebounding the Tigers 26-12. Oxy remained in the game by taking advantage of 14 Bruin turnovers while making only eight. Munger led all first-half scorers with 10 points for the Bruins, while Brandon and Katelyn Rowe had six apiece for the Tigers.
Scamman scored the first goal of the second half, igniting a 6-1 Oxy run that cut the George Fox lead to four at 29-25 with 16:32 left after a pair of Brandon free throws. The Bruins raised the lead back to nine at 36-27 behind a basket and three free throws by Gordon, but the Tigers answered with a 7-0 run to get within two at 36-34 on a Stephanie Babij shot with 10:27 left.
Gordon responded with a jumper and two more free throws and Munger hit short shot in the lane as the Bruins bumped the lead back to eight at 42-34 with eight minutes to go. They maintained the margin between four and eight points the rest of the way.
Munger with 20 points and Gordon with 19 -- including hitting 8 of 10 free throws -- were the only Bruins in double-digit scoring. George Fox finished hitting 38.3 percent (18 of 47) and made 69.6 percent (16 of 23) from the line. Munger, a 6-5 center, grabbed nine rebounds, leading the Bruins to 43-34 margin on the glass, and blocked three shots. Hayley Cusick handed out three assists.
Rowe scored 14 points and blocked two shots to lead the Tigers, and Brandon posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds while passing out five assists and making three steals. Occidental shot 28.3 percent (17 of 60) from the floor, but only 1 of 11 (9.1 percent) from long range.