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Conference Men's Play Continues Along The I-5 Corridor
Saint Martin's will host Western Washington on Thursday and Simon Fraser on Saturday. The Saints have the second-best overall record in the GNAC at 8-2.
Saint Martin's will host Western Washington on Thursday and Simon Fraser on Saturday. The Saints have the second-best overall record in the GNAC at 8-2.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. – The stockings are no longer hung by the chimney by care, the gifts have been opened and the turkey has been eaten. And once Simon Fraser players have a chance to enjoy Boxing Day, it will be time to focus again on GNAC play.

The conference schedule restarts this week with a limited schedule of five games prior to New Year’s Day. Most of the action will take place along Washington’s I-5 corridor with teams jockeying for position at the top of the standings.

Picked to win it all this season by conference coaches, Western Washington is the only team undefeated in GNAC play at 2-0 and enter the final week of December with a 7-3 mark. The Vikings went 2-0 on their trip to the Hoops In Hawaii Holiday Classic before the break, scoring an 80-76 win over Harding and an 86-77 victory over Tampa.

This week’s games at Seattle Pacific and Saint Martin’s will be the first true road tests for the Vikings this season. Outside of the Hawaii contests, the Vikings have played all of their games at Carver Gym. Western Washington leads the league in offense, averaging 88.3 points per game.

Simon Fraser will also face stiff road challenges after getting off to its best start of the school’s Division II era. The Clan enters their contests at Saint Martin’s and Seattle Pacific having won three of their last four games. Thanks to wins over Canadian rivals Douglas and Langara prior to the break, SFU is 7-3 on the season, surpassing the program’s total wins from the last two years combined.

The Clan’s strength has been defense. They enter the week third in the GNAC in scoring defense, allowing 68.5 points per game, and are third in three-point defense and fourth in field goal defense. Simon Fraser is also second in the league in steals with 9.3 per contest.

Saint Martin’s started this season the way they left off in 2016-17, entering the week with the second-best overall record in the conference at 8-2. The Saints have won five of their last eight contests and showed quite well in an exhibition contest at Division I Seattle on Dec. 13, falling 88-72. Saint Martin’s opened GNAC play with a split, which included an 80-75 win at Central Washington on Nov. 30.

The Saints have outscored opponents by an average of 9.8 points per game, third-best in the GNAC. The Saints are also third in the GNAC in three-point shooting (.402) and fourth in overall field goal shooting (.482).

Seattle Pacific has rebounded well after an off-season in 2016-17, entering the week with a 6-3 overall record. The Falcons opened the season by winning four of their first five games and enter this week’s contests having won two straight. Seattle Pacific entered the break with a 90-79 road victory over Stanislaus State on Dec. 18.

The Falcons enter the week fourth in the GNAC in scoring at 83.7 points per game and rank third in the conference in both field goal shooting (.489) and field goal defense (.417).

The fifth conference game of the week is on Sat., Dec. 30, between Northwest Nazarene and Montana State Billings. The Nighthawks opened conference play with a pair of wins over Seattle Pacific and Saint Martin’s at home before dropping to 2-1 in GNAC play with an 80-67 loss to Central Washington on Dec. 19. The Yellowjackets, also 2-1 in GNAC play, are looking to snap a two-game losing streak after taking defeats to Chaminade and Hawaii Pacific in the Hoops In Hawaii Holiday Classic. Montana State Billings has played the most games of any GNAC this season and is 8-6 overall.

Central Washington is the other GNAC team competing this week, hosting Division III Linfield in the Wildcats’ final non-conference game of the season.

HOOPS IN HAWAII ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM: A trio of GNAC players were named to the All-Tournament Team at the Hoops In Hawaii Holiday Classic. Western Washington’s Trey Drechsel and Daulton Hommes were named to the team as was Montana State Billings’ Kendall Denham.

Hommes earned GNAC Player of the Week honors (for the week of Dec. 11-17) after he averaged 19 points per game in three contests prior to the break, including a 37-point performance in the win over Harding. Drechsel was the Vikings’ leading scorer in the win over Tampa, going 9 of 13 from the field and 10 of 14 from the free throw line.

Denham scored in double digits in all three of the Yellowjackets’ games in Hawaii, capped by a 25-point performance in MSUB’s 73-71 heartbreaking loss to Hawaii Pacific on Dec. 19. He connected on a career-best 7 of 11 from three-point range in the game.

THIS WEEK’S GNAC PLAYER OF THE WEEK
DJ Ursery
Alaska Anchorage
Guard • 6-4 • Senior • Los Angeles, Calif.
Ursery led the Seawolves to a 59-55 GNAC win over Concordia on Dec. 19 with a double-double of 22 points and 12 rebounds. He connected on 10 of 12 from the field to go along with three assists, two steals and a block. Ten of his points came in the second half, allowing Alaska Anchorage to erase a seven-point halftime deficit.

Also Nominated: Bryan Michaels (Concordia), Kendall Denham (Montana State Billings), EJ Boyce (Saint Martin’s).

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