On Tuesday, the George Fox Bruins came to Pamplin to face off against Lewis & Clark. The Women’s game tipped off at 6 p.m. It was “pink-out” night for the Northwest Conference (NWC), meaning the crowd dressed in pink and donated to raise breast cancer awareness.
The first half started sluggish, with many free throws and few fastbreak points for either team. George Fox quickly got out to a large lead, shooting and making double the free throws of LC. The Pios at first had no answer to the Bruins sophisticated 2-3 zone, going into the half down 22-39.
After going down 20 in the first three minutes, fifth-year captain Sarah Anderson ’17 (whose mother and aunt have been diagnosed with breast cancer, making the pink-out night personal) knocked down a three-pointer to get her team, and the crowd, back into the game.
The defensive intensity picked up, with a steal from the other captain, Miyah Leith ’18, leading to two more Pioneer points. The fourth quarter began with a three from Sara “Hoagie” Hogman ’19, whose defensive prowess and overall hustle helped spur a fourth-quarter comeback. While Hogman’s impact was definitely felt, the comeback would not have been possible without the impressive ball-handling of point guard Deja Nichols ’17, who was able to break down the Bruins’ full-court press single-handedly.
Once in the half court, the Pios go-to option was Ayisat Afolabi ’17, who finished the game with 19 points and 14 rebounds. With 41 seconds remaining, and LC down four points, a costly travel gave George Fox back the ball. On the inbound, Nichols took a gamble and stole the pass, making a layup to puts the Pios only two points behind. Another steal by the clutch Hogman tied the game with 22 seconds remaining and sent the game to overtime.
In overtime, an Afolabi layup gave the Pios their first lead since the first quarter. The crowd was so into it, they had to be restrained from jumping onto the court. Unfortunately, the six points in overtime, all from Afolabi, weren’t enough to take down George Fox. A foul with three seconds remaining gave the Bruins the lead and the game, giving them sole possession of third in the NWC. The women have five games remaining, all of which are vitally important to retain their playoff spot.
Two losses last weekend sent the men’s squad to the fringe of the playoff picture. At sixth in the NWC (4-6), the Pios’ game against third place George Fox (6-4) was a do-or-die moment. In the first half, both teams came out strong offensively; George Fox had 44 points on terrific shooting (53 percent from the field, 64 percent from 3), rattling in seven threes. Lewis and Clark finished the half with 43 points and seven threes of their own. Sharpshooter Kyle Owens ’19 came off the bench and added three 3-pointers in the first half. In the second half, LC put on a show.
Andrew Vickers ’20, from Columbia River High, dominated the second half. He ended the game with a new high for his short collegiate career, 20 points (7-10 from the field, 4-7 from three), and tacked on nine rebounds, five assists and two steals playing all but three minutes in the game. This showing from Vickers was complimented by Cannen Roberson ’17, posting his best shooting performance in two weeks, going 8-10 from the field with 17 points. With 32 seconds left, the Pios took a two-point lead on Vickers’ made layup. George Fox looked for it all, hoping to take the lead with a three (just like PLU had done to LC on Saturday), but it went off-iron and Vickers, fittingly, secured the rebound ending a four-game skid for the Pioneers.
After the game, Roberson ’17 said of Vickers, “when he has it going, we definitely all have it going.” Looking forward, the team has to take things one game at a time, the captain continued, “we have a chance to handle our own destiny.”