Alaskan Men’s Basketball Teams Share Conference Honor
Matlock scored 36 points for the Nanooks against Western Washington, while Wiggs scored a total of 66 points in the two wins for the Seawolves.
Matlock scored 36 points for the Nanooks against Western Washington, while Wiggs scored a total of 66 points in the two wins for the Seawolves.

Monday, February 6, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Alaska and Alaska Anchorage men’s basketball teams each stayed home last week to earn sweeps against Simon Fraser and No. 13 Western Washington to earn the Red Lion/GNAC Co-Team of the Week Honor.

On Thursday, Alaska Anchorage defeated Western Washington to move within a game of first place in the GNAC standings, while the Nanooks defeated Simon Fraser. Two days later, Alaska Anchorage moved into a tie for first place with a win over the Clan and some help from the Nanooks, which handed No. 13 Western Washington its second consecutive loss.

Alaska Anchorage’s Suki Wiggs exploded offensively in the two games, scoring a combined 66 points to become the GNAC’s new leading scorer with 24.7 points per game. Wiggs has now scored at least 30 points in four consecutive games for a total of six 30-plus point games this season.

The Seawolves lost to Western Washington earlier in the season, but had a much stronger defensive performance the second time around. They forced the Vikings into 15 turnovers, resulting in 20 points off turnovers for UAA.

Diante Mitchell added 25 points in the victory over WWU and Corey Hammell recorded a game-best 15 rebounds. The Seawolves never trailed in the second half in the Alaska Airlines Center.

The defensive success on Thursday night carried over into the first half against Simon Fraser. The Seawolves held the Clan to just 13 points in the first half and Wiggs scored 20 of his game-high 36 points in the first half alone. After the Clan reached 13 points, the Seawolves went on a 21-0 scoring run to take a 42-13 lead early in the second half.

“Our team has really been buying in on the defensive side of the ball during this stretch,” Alaska Anchorage head coach Rusty Osborne said. “I've been impressed with the players’ focus and intensity, and I think they are showing what it means to trust each other with their assignments.”

The Nanooks’ Nahjee Matlock had the highest single-game scoring total in any of the four games played in the state of Alaska last week. The senior guard scored 36 points with 11 of 18 field goals made from the field and 5 of 7 from beyond the arc in the win against Western Washington.

Alaska trailed for most of the game and was down by 11 with less than 10 minutes to go. In the final 9:10 of the game, the Nanooks’ offense took off, scoring 40 points in that span.

Brandon Davis finished the game with a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds to go along with four steals and three assists. Zach Pederson also added two assists.

In the 77-64 win on Thursday against Simon Fraser, the Nanooks also had a double-digit deficit to overcome. Bangaly Kaba played a big part in the comeback with 23 points and nine rebounds, making 8 of 12 shots from the floor. Davis added 16 points, seven assists, six rebounds and two steals.

"It was a great home weekend for us, probably the best we've had all year,” Alaska head coach Mick Durham said. “We're still learning but we're improving each game and starting to figure out how to finish games. The league is extremely balanced this year so it's hard to stay consistent week in and week out, but I feel like we're headed in the right direction."

Alaska Anchorage is the only GNAC team with a perfect record at home, having won all 13 of its games in Anchorage. The Seawolves will go to Fairbanks this week to play the Nanooks on Tuesday. The Nanooks will host Montana State Billings on Thursday and then Alaska Anchorage will get its shot to host the Yellowjackets on Saturday.