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SPU Perseveres in Alaska, Earns Team of the Week
Cory Hutsen was named GNAC Player of the Week after scoring 43 points in the last road-trip of the year for the Falcons.
Cory Hutsen was named GNAC Player of the Week after scoring 43 points in the last road-trip of the year for the Falcons.

Monday, February 16, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Seattle Pacific men’s basketball team battled back from a halftime deficit against Alaska and survived an overtime contest against Alaska Anchorage to earn the Red Lion Hotels Team of the Week.

In the process the Falcons (18-7, 10-5 GNAC) clinched a spot in the GNAC Championships March 4-7 in Billings, Mont.

“We wanted to raise the level of competitiveness from last week,” Seattle Pacific head coach Ryan Looney said. “Our guys responded the right way. I’m proud of our resilience and we’re back on track.”

Led by GNAC Player of the Week Cory Hutsen’s 20 points, the Falcons pulled out of a five-point halftime deficit for a 74-64 win in Fairbanks Thursday night.

SPU was down by 10 with five minutes to go in the first half, but the Falcons closed the gap to five with help from a Shawn Reid three-pointer.

Hutsen scored six of the first eight Falcons' points out of the break as the Falcons went on a 13-8 run in the first five minutes of the second half. “He’s very skilled in the low post,” Looney said of Hutsen. “We did the best job we could of getting him the ball.”

Senior Matt Borton hit a couple of free throws for the Falcons' first lead with a little more than 11 minutes left in the contest. The point differential only grew from there as SPU won its fifth straight conference game in Fairbanks.

Hutsen, Reid and Mitch Penner all scored in double figures. Penner recorded his fourth double-double of the season by grabbing 10 rebounds as well.

The Falcons traveled south to Anchorage for their second matchup of the week on Saturday. In a contest of two 2015 GNAC tournament teams, Hutsen led the way for SPU again, scoring 23 points on 11 for 15 shooting in the 73-72 overtime win over the Seawolves.

SPU freshman Sam Simpson didn’t miss a shot as his team took an eight point lead at halftime.

The lead was 10 after a Hutsen layup to start the second half, but the Seawolves responded with two quick three-pointers and three made free throws on a foul from behind the arc.

The Seawolves took the lead at the 15 minute mark, but the Falcons came back to tie the game to force their second overtime in as many weeks.

The Falcons trailed for almost the first three minutes of overtime, but kept and held the lead after Hutsen’s layup with 2:18 on the clock.

Simpson had a career-high 12 points off the bench while Bryce Leavitt had nine points and five assists in 32 minutes.

“Both Simpson and Leavitt have been practicing really hard and have outstanding attitudes,” Looney said. “We had some people banged up and decided to give these guys a chance. They took advantage of it.”

On the week the Falcons out-rebounded the Alaska foes by 14. Riley Stockton and Penner, who rank in the GNAC top 10 in defensive and offensive rebounds, accounted for nearly half of the team's 73 boards.

The Falcons, currently a half-game behind the Seawolves for second place in the conference, have three games left before the GNAC tournament and still have a shot at a first-round bye. The team will face Montana State Billings, Central Washington and Northwest Nazarene in Brougham Pavilion in the next two weeks.

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