WALLA WALLA, Wash. – Hannah Munger scored 17 points and Keisha Gordon added 15 to climb into fourth on the all-time George Fox University scoring list as the third-ranked Bruins survived a serious scare from the Whitman College Missionaries 54-53 in the Northwest Conference women's basketball opener for both teams Friday here at the Sherwood Center.
George Fox got on the board first two minutes into the game on a layup by Munger, but Whitman tied on a basket by Tiffani Traver. Gordon broke the tie with a layup and free throw at the 17:23 mark, and the Bruins never trailed again, but could never completely distance themselves from the Missionaries.
Another layup by Munger with 10:36 to go gave the Bruins a 13-6 lead, and they maintained a lead between six and 12 points the rest of the half. Gordon scored for the visitors' largest lead of the period at 27-15 with 1:47, and after Jenele Peterson made back-to-back layups for the Missionaries, Hayley Cusick sank two free throws with a second left to give the Bruins a 10-point cushion of 29-19 at the break.
Megan Arnoldy hit a pair of free throws to open the second half, building the Bruin lead back to 12, but when Munger picked up her third foul of the game a minute into the half, the Missionaries took advantage. Traver hit a pair of three-pointers to fuel a 14-3 Whitman run, capped by two Mary Madden layups, over the next five minutes that trimmed the George Fox lead to 34-33 with 14:01 left.
The game remained tight the rest of the way, George Fox pulling ahead by a few points before Whitman rallied each time. The Bruin lead was one at 48-47 with 4:26 to go when Arnoldy hit two big baskets around a putback by Munger, boosting the Bruin lead to seven at 54-47 with 2:35 left, but it was the last points the visitors could muster as the home team made one final run.
Traver hit two free throws to bring the Missionaries within five, and Munger fouled out with 1:49 left, sending Shiana Dreadfulwater to the line, where she hit the first free throw. Whitman rebounded the missed second one, and Jennifer Keyes hit a three to make it 54-53 with 1:30 left.
After a Bruin turnover, Sandra Anderegg missed a potential go-ahead layup with 25 seconds left and Gordon rebounded and was fouled, but missed both free throws. Keyes rebounded for Whitman with 18 seconds left, but Peterson finally missed her first shot of the night, a three-point try as the clock ran out.
Munger and Gordon were the only players in double figures for the Bruins, who struggled to a .292 shooting percentage (7-24) in the second half after hitting .440 (11-25) in the first. They also had seven rebounds apiece as the Bruins held a 35-33 edge on the glass. George Fox was credited with only four assists, two by Gordon, who also made five steals.
With her 15 points, Gordon, a senior, passed Tammy Lewis (1,341, 1985-89) and Keith Leith (1,348, 2002-06) for fourth on the Bruins' scoring chart and now has 1,355 points in her career. Ahead in third place is former NAIA All-American Nancy Rissmiller (1,403, 1994-98). Senior post Breezy Rinehart-Young collected two blocked shots and moved into 10th on the all-time George Fox list in that category with 73, passing Melody Groeneveld-McMaster (72, 1981-85).
Traver had 12 points, Peterson 11, and Heather Lovelace 10 to pace the Missionaries. Anna Forge had a team-high seven rebounds, while Peterson passed out five assists and made four steals.
NEXT: George Fox (5-0, NWC 1-0) continues its eastern Washington swing Saturday at Whitworth University Sunday, while Whitman (1-4, NWC 0-1) hosts the other NWC co-champion, Lewis & Clark College. Both games tip off at 6:00 p.m., followed by NWC men's games at 8:00 p.m.