The Bruins rally to tip Northwest Christian in overtime, then begin NWC play by ripping Linfield

First-year head coach Maco Hamilton is a big believer that focusing on and executing the little things in basketball leads to big success.

So while Hamilton is pleased George Fox rallied to beat Northwest Christian 82-79 in overtime at home Dec. 3 and coasted to an 84-69 win over Linfield at Miller Gym Saturday, he knows the Bruins have a lot of work to do if they are going to achieve their goals in March.

“We’re struggling right now just to maintain a big lead. It’s new territory for us, but then again, it’s a new coaching staff and we’re still growing with that. The results are fine, but in terms of the process of getting there, we’re a long ways away.”

The first half against the Beacons was uncharacteristically low scoring for George Fox, which trailed 33-32 at the break.

The game stayed tied throughout the second half, featuring 12 lead changes and four ties as neither team led by more than four SETH GORDON - Stuffed - Linfield's Ryan Potter full on rejects Eli Graham Saturday in a game between the Yamhill County rivals. Graham and the Bruins got the last laugh, though, winning 84-69.

Northwest Christian, which is coached by former University of Oregon standout and NBA veteran Luke Jackson and also features three Division I transfers, hit a pair of free throws to pull ahead 63-59 with 43 seconds remaining.

Foreshadowing how the rest of the game would play out, GFU’s Jonny Howard drained a three-pointer with 29 seconds to go. Both teams made visits to the free throw line on the next three possessions, leaving GFU down 66-63.

Taking the initiative again, Howard drew a foul while attempting the game-tying shot, then calmly sank all three attempts from the free throw line to send the game into overtime.

Howard then dominated the overtime period, hitting a quick triple to put the Bruins up for good. He added two more to push the lead to 77-70 and George Fox put the game to rest at the free throw line.

The Sherwood High School grad and Chemeketa Community College transfer finished with a career-high 29 points, including 14 in overtime. He made eight of his 12 shots from the field and went 7-for-11 on three-pointers. Spencer Bolte put up 13 points, five assists and four steals, with Sean Atkins adding 12 and Eli Graham 10.

“He’s confident and that’s what we do, we shoot threes,” Hamilton said of Howard. “We tell our guys if they’re open, let it fly. He’s definitely one of the best shooters in the country.”

The Bruins turned around to open Northwest Conference play against Yamhill Country rival Linfield, again getting off to a slow start.

George Fox still took a 37-28 lead into the break, then blitzed the Wildcats early in the second half, opening on a 14-3 run in the first 5:04 thanks to better ball movement and some accurate shooting.

The Bruins enjoyed their largest lead of the game at 69-47 with just over seven minutes to play, but Linfield sank three consecutive three-pointers to make it a 12-point game with 4:39 remaining. GFU answered right back, however, pushing the lead back to 19 in less than 90 seconds to wrap things up.

Atkins was one of seven Bruins to score in double figures, finishing with 16 points. Seth Brent added 14, with Jason Martin (12), Bolte (11), Howard (11) and Graham (10) rounding out the group.

GFU will return to non-conference play with a road contest versus Corban Saturday.

“The result was good because we want to be in the mix to win our conference,” Hamilton said. “But at the end of the day, I hope that we’re going to be much further ahead in January than we are right now.”

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