DIII womens basketball — GFU thrashes La Verne 76-45, but has to overcome a second-half stumble to beat Chapman

ORANGE, Calif. — George Fox bested La Verne and Chapman to sweep a two-game swing through Southern California over the weekend, but made itself work harder than it had to in order to remain unbeaten on the young season.

The Bruins made quick work of the Leopards in a 76-45 rout, but following a scintillating first-half shooting performance, collapsed offensively in the second half before holding on for a 65-62 victory over the Panthers.

George Fox held a 36-30 halftime edge at La Verne Friday, then dominated the second half, scoring 40 points while surrendering 15.

The Bruins sparked the rout with an 8-0 run to start the final 20 minutes and pushed the lead to 20 midway through the period.

Ignited by a Hayley Cusick bucket, George Fox ripped off an 11-0 run to erase all doubt about the outcome.

New Mexico sophomore transfer Jordyn Peacock led the Bruins with 13 points, with senior Megan Arnoldy adding 12, as 14 of the 16 GFU players that played in the game scored. Head coach Michael Meek’s team shot 57.1 percent in the second half, lifting their average for the game to 52.5 percent despite a 0-for-9 effort from three-point range.

The script for the Chapman game was nearly the opposite, as the Bruins made 16 of 21 field goal attempts in the first half, including all three of their three-point attempts.

George Fox led 39-34 at halftime, but their second-half performance left them little margin for error.

In addition to shooting just 37 percent from the field, which included a 0-for-5 effort from beyond the arc, the Bruins struggled mightily at the free throw line, hitting six of 18 attempts in the half to finish 10-for-27 for the contest.

Throw in 21 turnovers for the game and George Fox was never able to pull away.

The Panthers pulled within one point twice early in the second half, but the Bruins managed to re-establish their lead at 58-51 with 4:55 to go.

Chapman scored five unanswered points to pull within 60-58 with 1:09 remaining, but a pair of free throws by Chemeketa Community College transfer Lauren Codling and a lay up by Cusick pushed the lead back to six points with 45 ticks left on the clock.

The Panthers never went away and rallied to within 65-62 and forced GFU to sweat out two missed three-point attempts in the final 13 seconds.

Justine Benner poured in a career-high 23 points and also grabbed nine rebounds to pace George Fox, which will play at Corban Dec. 3.

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