George Fox's struggles continue
Searching for a way out of a month-long slump, the George Fox men's basketball team needed to muster more consistent effort and execution in a pair of home games over the weekend.
Instead, the Bruins got a pair of disjointed performances against Willamette and Linfield and saw their losing skid extend to eight games.
George Fox didn't defend well enough to stay with the Bearcats in the second half and fell 89-80 Friday night.
"I don't think we competed as hard as we had wanted to in that game," GFU coach Maco Hamilton said. "Unfortunately, we just didn't have enough fight to get enough things to go in our favor. We were always playing from behind, playing catch up and, ultimately, it wasn't our night."
Mason Green-Richards and Dylan Hamlett combined to scored 21 points in the first half, which helped the Bruins enter halftime down just 40-36 despite Willamette shooting 60.7 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes.
The game remained close for the first seven minutes of the second half before the visitors went on an 8-0 run to pull ahead 65-53 with 11:05 to play.
Willamette led by as many as 16 before George Fox made a push to get back in it, pulling within five points with 5:23 remaining in the contest thanks in large part to a pair of triples from senior Thomas Rico.
The Bearcats enjoyed a massive advantage on the glass, out-rebounding the Bruins by a 39-26 margin overall, and asserted themselves there to put the game away. Willamette collected 16 offensive rebounds in all, including 11 in the second half and three in a row that extended a critical possession to nearly two minutes. After capping it off with a Nico Troplent layup, the visitors led 85-76 with 1:47 to play and closed the game out at the free throw line.
"I don't think we did enough defensively early in our pressure to really disrupt them," Hamilton said. "I think that was what was the most disappointing. We were just on our heels the whole night and we had a really good week of practice leading up to that, but we didn't exhibit that in the game. We were on our heels and they took advantage of that."
Hamilton got the effort he had been hoping to see from his team to open Saturday's contest against the Wildcats, as the Bruins' full-court pressure forced five turnovers on Linfield's first seven possessions.
That effort went for naught, however, after the offense petered out, helping the Wildcats (13-5, 7-3 NWC) close the half on an 8-2 run to go up 48-38 at the break.
"We played a strong first half but didn't close that half well," Hamilton said. "We went for a long stretch without scoring and just didn't make shots."
The Bruins came out energized in the second half and forced three quick turnovers. Unfortunately, GFU turned the ball back over all three times and never got on track in the second half, managing just 22 points on 6-for-29 shooting.
"They hit a couple of shots and the lead went from 10 to 15 and at that point it felt like we were out of ammunition, but Linfield is a really good team," Hamilton said. "So when we dug ourselves that big of a hole, we weren't going to come back."
The Bruins (5-14, 1-9) will look to snap their losing streak Friday when they travel to Pacific Lutheran (4-14, 1-9).