George Fox dispatches UC-Santa Cruz 74-45 and Simpson 86-46 to remain unbeaten

Two weeks after handing Linfield its biggest loss, 86-36, in the history of the rivalry, George Fox showed little to no rust from the layoff, demolishing visiting California-Santa Cruz and Simpson last weekend at Miller Gym.

The Bruins, ranked No. 10 in the poll and No. 15 in the USA Today Sports/WBCA poll, were never threatened by the Banana Slugs Friday, cruising to a 74-45 victory that was over by halftime. by: SETH GORDON - Not to be denied - Kennedy Hobert (center) and Kaycee Creech battle for a rebound during George Fox's 74-45 win over California-Santa Cruz on Friday at Miller Gym. The Bruins outrebounded the Banana Slugs 48-40 in the victory.

GFU smothered the Santa Cruz offense in the opening half, holding the visitors to 5-for-30 shooting (16.7 percent) to take a 40-18 lead into the locker room.

“I thought our defensive effort was really strong,” head coach Michael Meek said. “The kids played really hard and we just need to keep that up as our identity.”

Fueled by three three-pointers from junior guard Jami Roos, the Bruins ripped off a 17-0 run to go up 26-7 midway through the half. The lead swelled to more than 20 with over five minutes left to play and the home team led by as many as 27, thanks in part to shooting 40.5 percent from the field. Senior point guard Hayley Cusick paced the first-half effort with 11 points.

If that wasn’t enough, George Fox opened the second half on a 13-0 spurt to expand the gap to 35 points and the Banana Slugs didn’t get on track offensively until long after the Bruin starters had been pulled for the night.

Cusick led the way with 15 points and Roos (13), senior Megan Arnoldy (11) and sophomore center Jordyn Peacock (10) all scored in double figures as well.

I thought we came out and competed hard, executed well, Meek said. “Santa Cruz is a really solid ball team.”

The 86-46 result Saturday versus NAIA opponent Simpson was similar, but the gap between the teams was not as dramatic early as it was the previous evening.

George Fox led just 19-17 after 10 minutes of play, but a 9-0 run got things rolling and the Bruins finished the first half up 44-25.

Cusick helped GFU extend the lead to 30 points just five minutes into the second half by scoring eight points in that span. The points just continued to pile up, as an 18-0 run made it 64-26 with more than 11 minutes remaining to play.

Justine Benner, who has emerged as a reliable scoring option this far, finished with 15 points on 6-for-10 shooting. Cusick added 14 points, four assists, four steals and three blocked shots. Roos and Newberg High School grad McKenzie Wolfe scored 10 points apiece.

“The improvement overall, not only from this year but last year and having so many young kids dealing with expectations and everything, has been huge,” Meek said. “I’m just very happy with where we’re at.”

The Bruins, who are 8-0 for the sixth time in school history, will compete in the Trinity University Christmas Classic to round out its non-conference schedule, taking on Howard Payne Sunday and hosting Trinity Monday.

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