MBSK: GEORGE FOX 82, REDLANDS 79 - Bruins Stun Bulldogs to Reach Fulmer Finals
REDLANDS, Calif. - Cole Whitehurst sent the game into overtime with a free throw with one second left, then scored the tying and go-ahead points in overtime as the George Fox University Bruins advanced to the finals of the 62nd Annual Lee Fulmer Men's Basketball Tournament with a stunning 82-79 victory over the host University of Redlands Bulldogs Friday night here at Currier Gym.
The Bruins came out on fire to start the game, connecting on their first five shots, nine of their first 10,and 12 of their first 15 to build a 29-13 lead midway through the first half. The visitors then went ice-cold, missing their next seven shots and committing six turnovers as the Bulldogs went on an 16-1 run to get back into the game. Pat Coffey's three-pointer capped the outburst and brought Redlands within a point at 30-29 with 3:41 left. Stephen Wiseley slowed the assault with a pair of free throws, and after Coffey made one free toss, Rich Smith hit two baskets and a three to lift the Bruins to a 39-32 lead with 1:56 remaining. George Fox led 41-34 at the intermission.
The Bruins ended the half hitting .600 (15-25) to .400 (12-30) for the Bulldogs. Wiseley led all scorers with 13 first-half points and Smith added nine, while Matt Dietrich topped Redlands with 11 points.
Evan Atwater hit a three to open the second half, giving the Bruins a 10-point lead, but the Bulldogs reeled off nine unanswered points, five by Dietrich, to close within one at 44-43 with 17:39 to play. Back-to-back layups by Smith and Alex Stockner gave the Bruins a bit of breathing room, and threes by Dan Lingenfelder and Atwater around a Grant Vahalla jumper made it a 61-50 George Fox advantage with 9:36 showing.
Another cold spell in which the Bruins missed six shots and made five turnovers in an eight-minute span enabled the Bulldogs to rally again. Two free throws by Dietrich with 2:08 to play capped a 15-4 Redlands run that tied it 65-65, and Justin Sobczyk gave Redlands its first lead since the first basket of the game with one free throw at the 1:30 mark. Atwater hit a three with 11 seconds left for a two-point Bruin lead, only to have Dietrich nail one from downtown to put Redlands up by one with six seconds left. Whitehurst was fouled with one tick left and made the back end of a two-shot foul to send the game into overtime at 69-69.
Coffey made a jumper and a free throw for Redlands to start the overtime, but Lingenfelder tied it 72-72 with a three. After a Dietrich jumper made it 74-72 Bulldogs with two minutes to go, Whitehurst made a layup, was fouled, missed the free throw but got his own rebound, was fouled again, and made both freebies to put the Bruins ahead for good 76-74 with 1:42 left. Stockner's jumper and three free throws by Atwater in the final minute offset a layup by Andrew Maertens and a three by Kent Ervin, and enabled the Bruins to survive when Andrew Mills missed a potential tying three-pointer at the buzzer.
Atwater led a sextet of Bruins in double figures with 22 points. Joining him were Wiseley with 13, Smith with 12, Whitehurst with a career-high 11, and Lingenfelder and Stockner with 10 each. Smith had eight rebounds in leading the Bruins to a 39-37 edge on the boards, and Wiseley had six assists. The Bruins survived despite committing 23 turnovers to only 13 for the Bulldogs.
Dietrich, with 21 in the second half and overtime, had a game-high 32 points, and Sobczyk added 11. Mills led Redlands with 10 rebounds, and Sobczyk handed out three assists.
George Fox (3-1) will meet Chapman University (6-0), a 52-45 winner over California Lutheran University in the other semifinal game, Saturday at 7:30 p.m. for the tourney title. Redlands (2-4) will face Cal Lutheran (1-2) at 5:30 p.m. in the 3rd-place consolation game.
In Friday's afternoon games, the University of California-Santa Cruz defeated Willamette University 93-90 and Menlo College downed West Coast Baptist College 83-61. Willamette (1-5) and West Coast Baptist (2-6) will play for 7th place at 1:30 p.m. and Menlo (3-4) will take on Cal-Santa Cruz (2-5) for 5th place at 3:30 p.m.