CWU Men Win Twice, Named Team of the Week
CWU center Kevin Davis was instrumental in the Wildcats' double overtime victory over WOU with a double-double and five blocks.
CWU center Kevin Davis was instrumental in the Wildcats' double overtime victory over WOU with a double-double and five blocks.

Monday, January 13, 2014

PORTLAND, Ore. – A trio of Central Washington men’s basketball double-double performances highlighted a dramatic 106-103 double-overtime victory over Western Oregon on Saturday, which followed a solid 83-77 triumph over Saint Martin’s on Thursday and earned the Wildcats Great Northwest Athletic Conference Team of the Week honors.

“Every time we get together it’s a war from the opening tip to the end,” Wildcat head coach Greg Sparling commented on the CWU-WOU matchup. “Three of our seniors really stepped up and turned in double-doubles, and we were fortunate to get a good win against a quality team.”

Playing 47 minutes on Saturday and highlighting the Wildcats’ list of top performers was GNAC leading-scorer Mark McLaughlin. The senior guard scored 39 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, with teammates Kevin Davis scoring 25 with 11 rebounds and JB Pillard scoring 15 with 13 boards to lead CWU.

“Those three played a lot of minutes, and any time you get to a second overtime you know it’s going to be a grind,” Sparling commented on the three who each played at least 40 minutes. “Give WOU a lot of credit, and they played extremely well after a lot of travel last week.” McLaughlin scored 27 points on Thursday, and his total of 66 points earned him Red Lion Player of the Week honors for the second time this season.

Since beginning GNAC play 0-2, the Wildcats have won three-straight conference games and are beginning to pick up momentum. “We played some good Division I teams early on and it didn’t really go the way we wanted which hurt our confidence a little bit,” Sparling said regarding the slow start. “The guys are really starting to turn things around a play with some confidence now.”

Complementing McLaughlin has been a strong supporting cast of seniors, as well as some younger players stepping into the spotlight.

“Kevin Davis is a guy that comes to mind, and he knows it’s his last go-around and he has really stepped up,” Sparling said regarding the 6-foot-9 senior center. “He does block a lot of shots and is a great rebounder, but what he doesn’t get credit for is his ability to alter a lot of shots and cause hesitation.”

Pillard, another senior who starts for CWU, is the team’s second-leading scorer with 13.8 points per contest and averages 7.3 rebounds as well. “JB is really buying into his role, is doing a lot better now with his rebounding and is getting into the lanes and keeping balls alive for us,” Sparling said. “Another guy who stands out is Jalen Peake, our freshman point guard who has been thrown into the mix and has posted a very good assist-to-turnover ratio for us.” 

“Jalen stepped up against Saint Martin’s with 16 points in 27 minutes, and we couldn’t be more proud of the way he’s playing this season,” Sparling said.

With a three-game swing on its side, Central Washington has ascended in the GNAC standings into a tie for third place and is above .500 on the season at 7-6. “It’s always nice to play at home, and we only have one more trip where we fly the rest of the season,” Sparling said regarding last weekend’s victories that came in Ellensburg.

The next road trip is a tall task however, as CWU heads to Alaska this week to take on Alaska Fairbanks on Thursday and Alaska Anchorage on Saturday. “It’s a tough mental trip that we have to prepare for, but the nice thing is we have a lot of guys who have played there and understand it isn’t easy,” Sparling commented on his team’s longest journey of the season. “That road trip takes a lot out of you, but we expect good things, are glad to get it out of the way, and are excited about our progress moving forward.”