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NNU Cruises To 2-0 GNAC Start, Team Of The Week Honor
For the first time in program history, Northwest Nazarene is 2-0 in conference play. The Nighthawks feature in an exhibition this weekend before resuming conference action against CWU on Dec. 19.
For the first time in program history, Northwest Nazarene is 2-0 in conference play. The Nighthawks feature in an exhibition this weekend before resuming conference action against CWU on Dec. 19.

Monday, December 4, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. –  Earning its first 2-0 GNAC start in program history behind a couple of dominating performances last week, Northwest Nazarene men’s basketball has been selected as the GNAC/Red Lion Team of the Week.

Northwest Nazarene proved last week that it will be a legitimate threat in the GNAC this season. The Nighthawks began the week downing Seattle Pacific 103-91 on Thursday before snapping Saint Martin’s five-game win streak two days later by a 92-67 margin. Northwest Nazarene is 6-2 overall and is one of three conference teams to start GNAC play undefeated. The Johnson Sports Center has proved a tough place to play at this season, as the pair of victories improved the Nighthawks’ home record to 5-1.

In their game against Seattle Pacific, the Nighthawks shot 50 percent from the floor while shooting 11 of 24 from beyond the arc. Northwest Nazarene senior forward Maurice Jones had a career night, going 13 for 16 from the field for 34 points including seven rebounds. Four other Nighthawks recorded double-figure scoring, led by junior guard Khalil Thompson who turned in 19 points. The victory gave Northwest Nazarene its first conference-opening victory since its 83-68 win over Alaska on Dec. 30, 2010.

The Nighthawks continued their hot shooting against the Saints, shooting over 50 percent from the field while four players scored in double figures. Junior guard Obi Megwa tallied a game-high 31 points on 12 for 20 shooting, including a perfect 6 for 6 from the charity stripe. Northwest Nazarene dominated the paint as well, outrebounding Saint Martin’s 40-29. The Nighthawks also totaled 14 more points in the paint, 42-28. Jones added 13 points and nine rebounds while Thompson and sophomore guard Jayden Bezzant added 12 points each.

“The effort the guys are putting forward on the defensive end of the floor was really impressive this weekend.  Not only how hard they play but the level of focus they bring to being smart defenders on that end of the floor,” said Nighthawks’ head coach Paul Rush.

Northwest Nazarene is third in the GNAC with 87.1 points per game and has limited opponents to a .328 three-point shooting percentage. Taking care of the basketball has been a big priority for Rush, as the Nighthawks rank third in the league with a +2.00 turnover margin.

“Offensively the guys are really developing a trust in each other and willingness to share the ball and go with who has the hot hand.  We have multiple players - not just Obi and Mo - capable of going for 30 but that only works if guys are unselfish and look to get each other going,” added Rush.

With non-conference action resuming this week, the Nighthawks take on Idaho State this Saturday in an exhibition contest at Pocatello, Idaho. Northwest Nazarene resumes conference play Tuesday, Dec. 19 when it takes on Central Washington and finishes 2017 out with a road game at Montana State Billings on Dec. 30.

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