CWU still in the hunt for GNAC Tourney bid after win over Alaska
FAIRBANKS, Alaska — The Central Washington University men’s basketball team passed the first test of its Alaskan road trip, but it knows it has plenty of work to do.
The Wildcats defeated Alaska Thursday night 74-67 to put them into a three-way tie for sixth place in the GNAC standings but will need to defeat Alaska Anchorage on Saturday and have Montana State Billings and Northwest Nazarene lose on Saturday to advance. Northwest Nazarene is at Alaska and Montana State Billings travels to Western Oregon.
“We came up here knowing we needed to get wins,” said CWU head coach Greg Sparling. “We are taking it one game at a time. We got this one out of the way, now it’s time to step up against a good Anchorage team who has a lot to fight for.”
The Wildcats were led by senior Chris-Michael Garret off the bench with 14 points while Dom Hunter and Marc Rodgers each finished with 13 points a piece. Hunter also grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.
“I thought we shared the ball well and played outstanding defense tonight, but our rebounding won this game,” Sparling said. “We got after more balls on both sides of the court and when you can out-rebound your opponent like we did tonight, good things are going to happen.”
The Wildcats out-rebounded the Nanooks 46-30, despite shooting 42 percent from the field and 30 percent from the 3-point line.
Central Washington never trailed in the first half as it grabbed a 13-7 lead over the first six minutes.
The Wildcats increased their lead to as many as 12 points before Alaska came roaring back on a 7-0 run.
Hunter stopped the run with a 3-pointer and brought the lead back up to double digits but the Nanooks held their ground and went into halftime trailing by just six points.
In the second half, Central Washington took complete control. Alaska tied the game at one point but the Wildcats held on to claim the win.
Central Washington concludes the season on Saturday when it travels to Alaska Anchorage. The Seawolves won the first meeting way back on Dec. 1 with a 98-92 win. Their leading scorer Sekou Wiggs finished with a 46 points and seven 3-pointers.
Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.