Second Half Comeback Puts Nighthawks In Semifinals
Adonis Arms scored 11 of his 15 points in a second-half surge that proved the difference in the game. Radley Muller Photography.
Adonis Arms scored 11 of his 15 points in a second-half surge that proved the difference in the game. Radley Muller Photography.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

BELLINGHAM, Wash. – No. 3 seed Northwest Nazarene surged back from a five-point halftime deficit Thursday to advance to the GNAC Men’s Basketball Championships final with a 76-75 win over No. 6 seed Simon Fraser at Western Washington University’s Carver Gym.

The Nighthawks (20-7) shot 56 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes while using their defense to limit the Clan to 40.6 percent from the field and 3 of 15 from three-point range. After turning the ball over 10 times in the first half, NNU did not commit a turnover in the second.

Junior guard Jayden Bezzant led the Nighthawks with 19 points in 29 minutes off the bench, connecting on 6 of 8 from the field and 7 of 8 from the free throw line. Senior guard Adonis Arms scored 15 points, 11 of which came in the second half.

Sophomore forward Jasdeep Singh and sophomore center Julian Roche led Simon Fraser with 16 points apiece as all five Clan starters scored in double figures. Freshman guard Wilfried Balata notched a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds.

With the win, Northwest Nazarene advances to face No. 2 seed Seattle Pacific in the semifinals on Friday at 5:15 p.m. Competing in its first GNAC Championships, Simon Fraser finishes the year with a 15-14 record.

True to regular season form, both teams relied on the inside game to keep it close over the first eight minutes. James Nelson finally gave the Nighthawks their first run of the game, depositing back-to-back three-pointers to open up a 20-15 lead. The treys were the spark point for a 9-2 run that ended on Adalberto Diaz’s three at the 10:18 mark.

Simon Fraser replied with a 6-0 run on its own, culminating on Balata’s dunk to tie the game at 23-23. Three minutes later, Balata put the capper on a 10-2 run for the Clan with a three-point play that opened up a 36-29 lead. The Clan would hold strong the rest of the period and take a 36-31 lead into halftime. The Clan shot 48.3 percent in the opening 20 minutes and forced 10 NNU turnovers.

The Clan’s surge continued early in the second half, building a 52-42 lead on Othniel Spence’s three-pointer at the 12:50 mark. After the 12-minute media timeout, the Nighthawks came to life with an 8-0 run that ended on Nicola Prvulj’s lay-in that brought NNU within 55-53. A minute and a half later, Zac Ferguson nailed two free throws that tied the game at 57-57 with 9:41 left.

Simon Fraser bounced back to take a 69-64 lead with Singh’s bucket with 5:45 left. The Nighthawks chipped away before Bezzant tied it at 74-74 with a free throw with 2:04 remaining and Arms won it with his short jumper with 1:40 left.

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