March 14, 2009

Courtesy of Hope Athletics

For the second consecutive year, Hope has fallen one game short of playing on its home court in the NCAA Division III women’s basketball Final Four.

Unbeaten George Fox (Ore.) University used a suffocating zone defense and timely 3-point shooting Saturday to defeat the Flying Dutch, 58-46, in an NCAA sectional final at Thomas More College. The Bruins (30-0) avenged a 47-40 loss to Hope last year in an NCAA sectional semifinal.

The Flying Dutch, who finished 28-2 on the season, took a 32-29 early in the second half on two free throws by senior Courtney Knox and a rebound basket by sophomore Carrie Snikkers. However, the Bruins stormed back with a 16-4 run over a 10-minute span, highlighted by back-to-back 3-pointers by Sage Indendi and B.B. Gardner, to take a 48-38 lead with 6:36 remaining.

Hope closed to within six points at 52-46 on a Snikkers basket with four minutes left, but could not convert on several opportunities to pull even closer. George Fox’s defense limited the Flying Dutch to a season-low 22.4 percent from the field (17 of 76), while the Bruins shot 41 percent from the floor (21 of 51), including eight 3-point baskets.

The first half saw eight lead changes and five ties. The Bruins scored the game’s first four points, which turned out to be the largest lead either team enjoyed in the half. George Fox hit five 3-point baskets to Hope’s two in taking a 29-28 halftime lead.

Snikkers, the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association’s most valuable player this year, had another double-double for the Flying Dutch, scoring 18 points and pulling down 13 rebounds. Knox, one of two seniors who played their last game for Hope, added nine points and 12 boards.

Freshman Keisha Gordon led three George Fox players in double figures with 20 points, while Indendi added 14 points. Six-foot-four center Kristen Shielee blocked 10 Hope shots and grabbed nine rebounds to anchor the Bruins’ defense.

George Fox will make its first trip to the Division III Final Four next weekend at Hope's DeVos Fieldhouse, playing the College of New Jersey in a Friday semifinal.