Back In Playoff Hunt, SPU Named Team Of The Week
Grant Leep is in his first year as the head coach at Seattle Pacific.
Grant Leep is in his first year as the head coach at Seattle Pacific.

Monday, February 13, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. – Seattle Pacific men’s basketball claimed a pair of important home victories last week against Northwest Nazarene and Central Washington to get back into the race for a spot in the GNAC Championships and be named the Red Lion/GNAC Team of the Week.

Seattle Pacific is now one of six teams separated by one game in the standings, fighting for the four remaining spots in the GNAC Championships with two weeks left in the season. The Falcons have never previously missed the conference tournament in its five years of existence and won the tournament three years in a row.

The Falcons also got a measure of revenge last week, beating two teams to which they had previously lost earlier in the season. After taking an 85-80 loss to Northwest Nazarene on the road in January, Seattle Pacific won 83-68 in the second meeting of the two teams.

Seattle Pacific never trailed against the Crusaders after the first five minutes of the game, holding NNU to its second lowest scoring total in the calendar year. Forward Tony Miller led the Falcons’ offense with 24 points, scoring at least 20 points for the fourth time in the last five games. He now averages 18.3 points and 9.3 rebounds this season, which both rank inside the top five in the conference.

Center Joe Rasmussen added 15 points, six rebounds and two blocks in the victory. He scored eight of his points in the second half without missing a field goal. Coleman Wooten chipped in another 14 points with a team-high seven rebounds for the Falcons.

“Our guys had some fun,” SPU head coach Grant Leep said. “The ball was moving, everybody touched it and guys weren’t holding it. Our players were moving with purpose, they were moving at the right speed and right rhythm and pace. When we do that, we find some really good stuff. That offensive energy fuels our defense and we are able to get into a really good game flow.”

Two days later, the Falcons stepped back onto their home floor without Miller available, but proceeded to hand Central Washington a 79-61 defeat in front of a homecoming crowd of 1,745 at Brougham Pavilion. It was the Falcons fifth win in their last six home games.

Wooten stepped up in the place of Miller to lead the Falcon offense with 24 points, making 6 of 13 shots to go along with nine rebounds and two assists. The Seattle Pacific defense also held the GNAC’s second-leading scorer, Dom Hunter, to just three points all game, while outrebounding the Wildcats 44-29.

With a few Falcons getting into foul trouble in the first half of the game, Nathan Streufert got 31 minutes of playing time off the bench and made the most of it. The 6-foot-8 sophomore recorded a game-best 12 rebounds to go along with seven points, four assists and two blocks.

“Our conference this year has been so deep. Anyone can win on a given night,” Leep said. “We’re very fortunate that this week at home we had some good crowds and some good opportunities to show what we’ve been working on. This was an opportunity for some guys to step up with Miller out of the game.”

Seattle Pacific is now in a three-way tie for seventh place with Alaska and Central Washington. They are one game behind another three-way tie for fourth place. The top six teams in the conference will advance to the GNAC Championships in Lacey, Wash., hosted by Saint Martin’s.

Seattle Pacific’s next two games will be played against two of the teams that make up the three-way tie for first place, hosting Saint Martin’s on Tuesday and traveling to Montana State Billings on Thursday. The Falcons will wrap up the regular season on the road the following week at Western Washington and Simon Fraser.