5 Men's Teams Still Battling for GNAC First-Round Byes
WWU's Anye Turner leads the GNAC in rebounds and blocked shots.
WWU's Anye Turner leads the GNAC in rebounds and blocked shots.
WWU's Kayla Bernsen hit the game-winning shot against CWU on Saturday.
WWU's Kayla Bernsen hit the game-winning shot against CWU on Saturday.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. –   Its beginning to look like the real race in the GNAC is for second place.

And that is important because both the regular-season champion and the second-place finisher earn first round byes for the conference tournament.

The tournament begins Thursday, Mar. 5 at Alterowitz Gymnasium on the campus of MSU Billings.

After a road sweep at Ellensburg and Nampa last weekend, Western Oregon (20-3, 12-1) has a 2 ½ game lead over second-place Alaska Anchorage (13-9, 9-3) for the first bye.

The Wolves are 3 ½ ahead of Central Washington (13-6, 8-4) and Northwest Nazarene (10-12, 8-4) for the second bye. Seattle Pacific (16-7, 8-5) is four back.

All five teams have good opportunities to claim one of the two available byes.  Western Oregon needs just three wins in its final five contests to secure one.

The Wolves have the opportunity to get one of those wins Wednesday when they take a 10-game win streak to Lacey, Wash., to take on Saint Martin’s (6-17, 3-10) in a ROOT SPORTS game.  Tipoff is at 8 p.m.  Its the second game of a GNAC doubleheader on ROOT.  The first game at 6 p.m. will match Western Washington's women against Saint Martin's.

WOU’s win streak is the 14th longest in GNAC history.  The Wolves also had a nine-game win streak earlier this season. 

Those are WOU’s two longest win streak during the GNAC era (since 2001-02).  WOU’s current 11-game home win streak equals the 15th longest in GNAC history. 

WOU also has won 11 consecutive conference home games, matching the fifth longest in GNAC history.

The WOU at Saint Martin’s game is the only men's game on the GNAC schedule Wednesday.

On Thursday, Alaska Anchorage will try to protect its one-game lead for the second bye when it hosts MSU Billings (5-18, 3-10).

Other games Thursday will send Seattle Pacific to Fairbanks to take on Alaska (5-15, 2-10), Central Washington to Bellingham to take on Western Washington (13-10, 6-7) and Northwest Nazarene to Burnaby to battle Simon Fraser (9-12, 4-9).

WOU Ranked 18th in NABC, 16th in D2SIDA Polls

Western Oregon moved up two positions to No. 18 in this week’s NABC national poll after two road victories last week.

The Wolves were the only GNAC team to receive votes in the weekly poll.

Three other West Region teams are ranked in this week’s poll – BYU-Hawaii at No. 13, Cal Baptist at No. 22 and Azusa Pacific at No. 23.

In this week’s D2SIDA national poll, Western Oregon is ranked 16th.  The Wolves are ranked second and Seattle Pacific is ranked 10th in the D2SIDA regional poll.

D2SIDA West Regional Poll (records through Feb. 8) – 1. BYU-Hawaii (18-2); 2. Western Oregon 20-3; 3. Azusa Pacific (19-4); 4. Cal Baptist (17-4); 5. Chico State (16-5); 6. Dixie State 15-6; 7.  Cal Poly Pomona 16-5; 8. Point Loma (17-5); 9. CSU Stanislaus (14-7); 10. Seattle Pacific (16-7). (Note: D2SIDA poll is unofficial.  NCAA will conduct an official regional poll beginning next Wednesday).

Nichols, Turner Fourth  in National Statistics

Western Oregon guard Julian Nichols and Western Washington forward Anye Turner are ranked fourth nationally in assist/turnover ratio and blocked shots, respectively, in this week’s NCAA Division II national statistical report.

Nichols is averaging  3.44 assists for every turnover, while Turner, last week’s GNAC Player of the Week, is averaging 3.18 blocked shots. 

Turner has had one or more blocks in 23 consecutive games dating back to the end of the 2013-14 season.  He has had at least two blocks in every game this season except for six contests in which he had one.

Nichols also ranks second in the GNAC in assists (6.13) and steals (2.17) and third in free throw percentage (87.7) and Turner is also the conference rebound leader (8.4).

Other GNAC players ranked in the Top 10 in NCAA Division II include Simon Fraser guard Sango Niang, Central Washington guard Dom Williams, Central Washington forward Joseph Stroud and Seattle Pacific guard Riley Stockton.

Niang ranks seventh in scoring (23.8) and 10th in assists (6.3).  He’s the GNAC leader in both category.

Williams ranks ninth in Division II in three-pointers made (3.40).  Stroud ranks eighth in blocked shots (2.95).  Stockton is 10th in assist/turnovers (3.06).

In team categories,  Simon Fraser ranks first in Division II in scoring (107.7), three-pointers made (12.8), steals (13.5) and turnover margin (9.4) and seventh in offensive rebounds (15.3).

Seattle Pacific ranks second in rebound margin (12.7), fourth in field goal percentage (51.8) and seventh in scoring margin (15.9).

Western Washington ranks fifth in blocked shots (5.6) and Western Oregon ranks sixth in free throw percentage (77.6).

By The Numbers

Double-Doubles: 6 – Kevin Rima, NNU.  3 – Anye Turner, WWU; Matt Borton, SPU; Erik Kinney, NNU; Sango Niang, SFU; Mitch Penner, SPU; Riley Stockton, SPU.  2 – Kalidou Diouf, UAA; Roderick Evans-Taylor, SFU; Austin Hudson, MSUB; Jeffrey Parker, WWU; Lewis Thomas, WOU; 1 – 18  with.

30-Point Games: 2 – Sango Niang, SFU; Dom Williams, CWU. 1 – 14 with.

20-Point Games: 15 – Sango Niang, SFU.  8 – Cory Hutsen, SPU; Travis Thompson, UAA; Andy Avgi, WOU; Brian McGill, UAA.  7 – Jaamon Echols, WWU; Dom Williams, CWU. 6 - Jeffrey Parker, WWU.  5 – Justin Cole, SFU; Ashton Edwards, UAF.

10-Rebound Games: 6 – Kevin Rima, NNU.  5 – Lewis Thomas, WOU.  4 – Matt Borton, SPU; Tyler Nelson, MSUB; Riley Stockton, SPU; Anye Turner, WWU.  3 – Erik Kinney, NNU; Mitch Penner, SPU.

10-Assist Games: 3 – Sango Niang, SFU.  2 – Julian Nichols, WOU.  1 – Harris Javier, WWU; Devin Matthews, CWU; Ricardo Maxwell, WWU; Brian McGill, UAA.

2014-15 ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAMS:  Seattle Pacific (Nov. 14-15) – Cory Hutson, SPU; Mitch Penner, SPU; Jordan Russell, CWU; Joseph Stroud, CWU.  Dominican (Nov. 14-15) – Antoine Hosley, MSUB.  Sonoma State (Nov. 14-15) – Brian McGill, UAA.  Western Washington (Nov. 14-15) – Jeffrey Parker, WWU (MVP); Anye Turner, WWU; Joey Schreiber, WWU; Erik Kinney, NNU.  Alaska (Nov. 20-22) – Ruben Silvas, Alaska.  WOU (Nov. 21-22) – Trey Ingram, SMU; Lewis Thomas, WOU.   Great Alaska Shootout (Nov. 26-29) – Travis Thompson, UAA*.  (*UAA played Shootout as exhibition). UAA Seawolf Jamboree (Dec. 12-13) – Kalidou Diouf, UAA; Travis Thompson, UAA.

ALL-REGION TEAMS: Capital One Academic All-District -  Travis Thompson, UAA (Civil Engineering, 3.47, Sr., Anchorage, AK); Lee Bailey, Chaminade (Communications, Sr., 3.39, Detroit, MI); Matt Hayes, Dominican (Chemistry, 3.57, Jr., Yuba City, CA); Adam Kile, UCSD (Bio-Engineering, So., 4.00, Anchorage, AK); Evan Zeller, CSU Monterey Bay (Business Administration, So., 3.53. Mission Viejo, CA).

GNAC Team Notes

Alaska:  Ashton Edwards had 18 points and five assists and Almir Hadzisehovic had 16 points and eight rebounds in the Nanooks’ hard-luck loss at the Alaska Airlines Center.  Edwards had a relatively good look at a three for the win at the buzzer after UAA’s Travis Thompson made 1-of-2 free throws with five seconds to go for a two-point lead.

Alaska Anchorage:  Travis Thompson made 4-of-8 three-pointers and scored 23 points to lead the Seawolves past the Alaska Nanooks and secure sole possession of second place.  With at least seven games remaining (6 regular-season and at least one playoff game), Thompson needs just 10 treys to equal the GNAC career record of 292 treys.  Thompson also had seven assists moving into 27th place on the GNAC career list with 313.

Central Washington: Dom Williams scored 53 points, including 30 in a 78-71 loss to Western Oregon.  He joined Simon Fraser’s Sango Niang has the only players in the GNAC to record two 30-point games this winter.  Gary Jacobs had 36 points and Joseph Stroud had 27 points, 12 rebounds and 11 blocks.

Montana State Billings:  Tyler Nelson (13 points, 10 rebounds) and Jordan Perry (12 points, 10 rebounds) each recorded their first double-doubles of the season in an 85-78 win over Simon Fraser.  Nelson finished the weekend with 20 points and 16 rebounds, while Perry had a 20-20 (points/rebounds) and also led MSUB with seven assists  Jace Anderson had a team-high 37 points. 

Northwest Nazarene:  Alex Birketoft had 33 points and Erik Kinney had 32 as the Crusaders split two games, shooting 52.4 percent (54-of-103).  Kinney also had team highs for rebounds (16) and assists (matching Mike Wright’s six).  Birketoft and Matyas Hering each had three steals.

Saint Martin’s: Isaac  Bianchini, who leads the GNAC in three-point shooting (53.0 percent), made 8-of-12 and netted 28 points in losses at NNU and CWU.  Riley Carel and Trey Ingram each had 26 points in the two road contests.  The Saints kept the two games close make 21-of-38 treys.  Ingram converted on 6-of-12 and Carel made 4-of-6,

Seattle Pacific: The Falcons lost back-to-back home games to Western Washington and Simon Fraser, extending their losing streak to three, its first streak of that length since 2011.  Free throw shooting hurt SPU, which was just 31-of-60 from the line, including 4-of-17 by Cory Hutsen, who had a team-best 42 points … Riley Stockton had 20 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists.  He now ranks 10th in the GNAC in both career rebounds (689) and assists  (412).

Simon Fraser:  Sango Niang had 53 points, including 28 in an 84-83 win at Seattle Pacific, its first-ever win against the Falcons in 14 games.  Niang made 18 of 33 shots, including 7-of-16 treys. A three-pointer by Niang with 1:44 left gave SFU a 84-79 lead and the Clan then held on.

Western Oregon:  Andy Avgi scored 42 points as the Wolves  earned  a road sweep and opened up a 2 ½ game lead in the GNAC.  Avgi had 27 points against  CWU as the Wolves overcame a 10-point deficit just prior to the end of the first half to beat the Wildcats for just the fourth time in 29 all-time games at Nicholson Pavilion.  Devon Alexander had 34 points and Julian Nichols had 22 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds.

Western Washington: After starting the season 0-6 on its oponents home courts, the Vikings got a sweep defeating Seattle Pacific and MSU Billings.  WWU used a 12-0 run in the first half to take control in a 82-72 win at Brougham Pavilion Thursday.  WWU then won Saturday at Billings 75-65.  Mac Johnson led the Vikings’ balanced attack with 27 points.  Ricardo Maxwell and Kyle Impero each had 26 points, Anye Turner had 23 and Jeffrey Parker had 22.

GNAC Player of the Week: Anye Turner, Western Washington (F, 6-7, Sr., Olympia, WA – Black Hills) scored 23 points and also had 23 rebounds and nine blocks in leading the Vikings  to a pair of 10-point road wins at Seattle Pacific (82-72) and MSU Billings (75-65).  Turner played a key role defensively in WWU’s win at SPU.  He had all five of the Vikings’ blocked shots as WWU held SPU to a 44.4 shooting percentage.  The Falcons came into the game ranked fourth nationally in field goal percentage shooting 52.1 percent.  Turner, who ranks sixth in GNAC history in career blocked shots with 152, converted 58.8 percent of his attempts, making 10 of 17.  He also had four assists and a steal without committing a turnover.