SPOKANE, Wash. – Spencer Bolte came off of the bench for 22 points to lead visiting George Fox to an 89-81 upset of third-ranked Whitworth on Saturday night in the Whitworth Fieldhouse, delaying the Pirates' drive toward a fourth straight outright Northwest Conference men's basketball championship.
Whitworth dropped a second straight NWC game to fall to 20-3 overall and 12-2 in the conference. The Bruins improved to 14-9, 8-6 and greatly improved their chances of qualifying for the league's post-season tournament.
"Tonight we got away from our defensive foundation," said Whitworth head coach Matt Logie. "George Fox played a terrific game and made plays when they needed to."
The Pirates never led as George Fox hit 57% (16-28) from the floor in the first half on the way to a 37-29 lead at halftime. Jason Martin's layup gave GFU a 22-10 lead nearly ten minutes into the game. Whitworth closed to within 33-29 when Colton McCargar hit one of two from the free throw line, but Anthony Sanchez scored inside and Sean Atkins canned a pair of free throws in the final minute to give the Bruins their eight-point lead at the break.
Wade Gebbers' three-pointer early in the second half pulled Whitworth within 47-42, but Bolte answered with a three of his own. Leading 53-46, George Fox used a 7-0 run to re-open a double-digit advantage with just under 12 minutes to play. The lead would hover around ten points most of the rest of the half. The Pirates tried to use full-court pressure to get back into the game and when Dustin McConnell drained a three pointer with 38 seconds left Whitworth had pulled within 83-77. But Bolte made 5-6 from the free throw line in the final 35 seconds to keep the Bucs at bay.
"We've been able to withstand runs within games all season and we just weren't able to do that tonight," Logie said. "Hopefully this is a lesson that we can take to heart and learn from."
Bolte scored half of his points from the free throw line where he went 11-14. Grant added 20 points while Sanchez scored 19, including four three-pointers. Atkins finished with 12 points and seven rebounds as GFU out-rebounded Whitworth 34-30.
McConnell scored 19 points and grabbed six boards to lead the Pirates. Taylor Farnsworth scored 17 points, while McCargar and Gebbers each scored 13. George Valle finished with ten.
The Bruins ended a 15 game losing streak to Whitworth. The Pirates suffered a second straight NWC loss for the first time since January of 2009, a string of 78 games.
Whitworth will get its next shot at claiming the outright NWC crown next Friday at Linfield. The Pirates are trying to become the first NWC school with four straight undisputed league titles since Whitman from 1927-30.