Standings Taking Shape At MBB Midway Point
GNAC Player of the Week Samaad Hector and the Wildcats take their four-game winning streak to the Magic City this weekend for a clash with first-place Montana State Billings.
GNAC Player of the Week Samaad Hector and the Wildcats take their four-game winning streak to the Magic City this weekend for a clash with first-place Montana State Billings.

Wednesday, January 31, 2024
by Evan O'Kelly, Assistant Commissioner For Communications

PORTLAND, Ore. – The 2023-24 Great Northwest Athletic Conference men’s basketball standings are beginning to take shape as the conference season hit the midway point with last Saturday’s games.

With nine conference contests in the books for all 10 teams, Montana State Billings sits atop the standings at 14-5 overall and 8-1 in conference play. The Yellowjackets hold a one-game lead over No. 7 Saint Martin’s – the only team to beat MSUB in the first half of GNAC play – as the Saints are in second place at 17-2 overall and 7-2 in GNAC play.

Central Washington (13-5, 6-3) and Northwest Nazarene (10-7, 6-3) are close behind tied for third place with both teams traveling to the Magic City for a pair of huge games against the conference-leading Yellowjackets. Alaska Anchorage (15-5, 5-4), coming off an upset of then-No. 2 Saint Martin’s, is the other GNAC team boasting a conference record north of .500.

INDIVIDUAL MATCHUP OF THE WEEK: It will be hard to take your eyes off the matchups at Alterowitz Gym this week, as three of the conference’s top all-around players are set to square off. CWU’s Samaad Hector, the reigning GNAC Player of the Week, and NNU’s Gabriel Murphy will go toe-to-toe with MSUB’s Daniel Moody as the GNAC’s top-three rebounding players meet in person.

Hector leads the conference in both rebounding (8.6 rpg) and blocks (1.5 bpg), and Murphy ranks third in rebounding (7.8 rpg), and ninth in blocks (0.8 bpg) while chipping in 12.5 points per game. Moody meanwhile ranks second in the league in rebounding (8.3 rpg), fifth in assists (3.2 apg) and 10th in scoring (13.5 ppg). Hector and Moody are tied for the most double-doubles in the conference this season with six apiece, and Murphy is close behind with five. Moody notched one of the league’s two triple-doubles this season against Western Washington, which earned him a GNAC Player of the Week nod on Jan. 15.

Read More: Yellowjackets Top SPU, Improve To 8-1 (MSUB Recap)

This Week's Conference Slate - Feb. 1-3
  Thursday, Feb. 1 Saturday, Feb. 3
Host Opponent Time Opponent Time
UAA Bye -- UAF 7 p.m. (AK)
RV MSUB NNU 7:30 p.m. (MR) CWU 7:15 p.m. (MT)
#7 SMU WWU 7 p.m. (PT) SFU 5:15 p.m. (PT)
SPU CWU 7:30 p.m. (PT) NNU 2 p.m. (PT)
WOU SFU 7 p.m. (PT) WWU 2 p.m. (PT)


2023-24 GNAC Men's Basketball Championships

The 2023-24 GNAC Men’s Basketball Championships will be held March at Nicholson Pavilion on the campus of Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Wash. The top-six teams in the final GNAC regular-season standings will advance to the single-elimination tournament. The winner of the event will earn the conference’s automatic berth into the NCAA West Region Championships.

This Week's Storylines

NIGHTHAWKS, WILDCATS TO TEST ‘JACKETS: Alterowitz Gym is the place to be this weekend, as the first-place Yellowjackets will play host to two of the conference’s top teams in NNU (Thursday, 7:30 p.m. MT) and CWU (Saturday, 7:15 p.m. MT). MSUB kicked off the new year by sweeping this duo on the road, beating CWU 74-59 on Jan. 4 in Ellensburg, Wash., and following with a 67-55 win over NNU two nights later in Nampa, Idaho. The stage is set among the three teams that are all trending upward, with CWU entering the week winners of four straight and both MSUB and NNU having won consecutive games.

Read More: Nighthawks Hold Off Vikings For Big GNAC Win (NNU Recap)

Jalen Tot leads MSUB in scoring (14.8 ppg) and ranks ninth in the conference in assists per game with 2.9. CWU’s Anjaylo Lloyd is the team’s top scorer ranking eighth in the GNAC with 14.3 points per game. Tru Allen is NNU’s leading scorer with 12.9 points per game, while leading the league with 2.6 steals per game and chipping in a team-high 2.9 assists per game.

Read More: Wildcats Prepare For Road Games Against Falcons, Yellowjackets (CWU Preview)

Seattle Pacific (11-11, 4-5 GNAC) will also play host to the Nighthawks and Wildcats, as the Falcons look to maintain strong positioning in the hunt for a GNAC Championships berth. SPU is led by GNAC preseason player of the year Shaw Anderson, who is second in the GNAC and 24th nationally with 20.2 points per game. Anderson enters the week No. 14 in GNAC history and No. 4 in SPU history with 1,752 points across his stellar career.

GNAC Men’s Basketball Career Points Leaders (as of Jan. 231 2024)

Rank Player School Points Career
1 Austin Nichols Humboldt State 2,501 2000-04
10 Dustin Bremerman Seattle Pacific 1,797 2003-07
11 David Downs Seattle Pacific 1,786 2010-14
12 Ryan Diggs Western Washington 1,783 2002-06
13 Blake Poole Saint Martin's 1,764 2007-11
14 Shaw Anderson Seattle Pacific 1,752 2019, 21-24

SEAWOLVES LOOK TO RIDE MOMENTUM: Alaska Anchorage will play host to in-state rival Alaska on Saturday night at the Alaska Airlines Center, and is coming off its biggest victory of the season. The Seawolves knocked off the top-ranked Saints 71-68 last Saturday, improving to 5-2 across their seven games since the turn of the calendar year. Tyson Gilbert was phenomenal in the win over SMU with 28 points on 8 of 13 shooting including five threes as he climbed to No. 6 in the GNAC in scoring with 15.1 points per game. Dillon Barrientos is among the nation’s elite ball handlers, ranking 35th in Division II with an assist-turnover ratio of 2.52.

Read More: UAA Knocks Off No. 1 Saint Martin’s 71-68 (UAA Recap)

SAINTS SET TO HOST VIKINGS, RED LEAFS: The Saints snapped a 10-game winning streak with a narrow 71-68 loss to Alaska Anchorage on the road last week, and will look to bounce back with a pair of home games with Western Washington on Thursday (7 p.m. PT) and Simon Fraser on Saturday (5:15 p.m. PT) at Marcus Pavilion. SMU’s two losses this season have been by a combined four points, after falling 80-79 to Northwest Nazarene on Nov. 30. Aside from the setbacks, the two-time reigning GNAC champions have put together winning streaks of seven games and 10 games and remain just one game behind the Yellowjackets for first place in the standings.

Thursday’s clash pits two of the nation’s top scoring teams against one another, with WWU leading the GNAC and ranking sixth nationally with 92.8 points per game and SMU ranking second in the GNAC and 25th nationally with 85.9 points per game.

Jaden Nielsen-Skinner climbed to No. 5 in Division II in assist-turnover ratio at 3.67, and maintained his spot at No. 5 in GNAC history in assists per game with 5.70 across his three seasons. The trusty point guard leads the GNAC with 4.9 assists per game. The Saints’ Kyle Greeley ranks third in the conference with 17.2 points per game and sixth with 7.2 rebounds per game, while Tyke Thompson chips in 11.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game for SMU.

GNAC Men’s Basketball Career Assist Per Game Leaders (as of Jan. 31)
Rank Player School Ast./Gm. Career
1 Luke Cooper Alaska Anchorage 7.27 2004-08
2 Kalob Hatcher Montana State Billings 6.14 2012-14
3 Mark White Humboldt State 6.06 2000-04
4 Sango Niang Simon Fraser 6.02 2013-15
5 Jaden Nielsen-Skinner Saint Martin's 5.70 2021-24


For Western Washington, Kai Johnson leads the GNAC and ranks seventh nationally with 22.4 points per game, and his 448 points scored this season are fifth-most in Division II basketball. The two-time GNAC Player of the Week has reached double figures in every game this season, and brings a streak of four straight 20-point performances into this weekend’s games against SMU and WOU.

Read More: Comeback Falls Just Short In Loss At NNU (WWU Recap)

BEHIND BENZEL, WOLVES LOOK FOR MOMENTUM: It will be an uphill battle for Western Oregon (5-12, 2-7) to get into the conference tournament but the Wolves have lots of basketball in front of them and are coming off a promising road win last week with a gutsy, 55-53 triumph at Alaska Anchorage. WOU is slated to host Simon Fraser (3-17, 1-8) on Thursday (7 p.m. PT) before facing the high-scoring Vikings on Saturday (2 p.m. PT) in Monmouth.

Read More: Wolves Top UAA 55-53 (WOU Recap)

Big man Cameron Benzel has been a model of efficiency this season, leading the conference and ranking 15th nationally with a field-goal percentage of 60.6. Benzel ranks 11th in the league in scoring with 13.4 points per game and fourth in rebounding with 7.5 boards per game, while completing three double-doubles this season.


Player To Watch

Tyriq Luke – Alaska

A big part of the Nanooks’ 72-67 win over Western Oregon last week was the play of Luke, who had 13 points and six rebounds in 31 minutes coming off the bench. The hometown sophomore has now reached double figures in scoring in five of his last six games, and had a season-high five assists last week against Saint Martin’s. Look for Luke to be an impact player in Saturday’s rivalry matchup with the Seawolves in Anchorage, as he had a season-high eight rebounds the last time the teams met on Jan. 6. Overall on the season Luke is averaging 9.1 points and 3.8 rebounds, while shooting 45.3% from the floor.

GNAC In The Regional & National Rankings

The NABC Division II rankings are released every Monday throughout the 2023-24 season. The D2CSC regional rankings are released on Mondays, with the national rankings following on Tuesdays.

The Saints’ loss to Alaska Anchorage prompted a slip to No. 7 in the latest NABC rankings and No. 4 in the latest D2CSC rankings, as the two-time reigning GNAC champions remained as one of the top teams in the national polls. Montana State Billings cracked into the NABC list, receiving votes for the first time this season. The Yellowjackets climbed to a tie for fourth in the D2CSC west region rankings – their highest spot of the season to date. SMU held pat at No. 1 in the latest media regional rankings for the sixth consecutive week.

NABC National Rankings
Poll Team 1 Team 2 Team 3 Team 4
Preseason RV SMU -- -- --
Nov. 20 6. SMU RV UAA -- --
Nov. 27 6. SMU 23. UAA -- --
Dec. 5 13. SMU RV UAA -- --
Dec. 11 10. SMU -- -- --
Dec. 31 5. SMU -- -- --
Jan. 8 5. SMU -- -- --
Jan. 16 3. SMU -- -- --
Jan. 23 2. SMU -- -- --
Jan. 30 7. SMU RV MSUB -- --


D2CSC National Rankings
Poll Team 1 Team 2 Team 3 Team 4
Week 1 - Nov. 13 9. SMU -- -- --
Week 2 - Nov. 21 4. SMU -- -- --
Week 3 - Nov. 28 4. SMU RV UAA -- --
Week 4 - Dec. 5 9. SMU -- -- --
Week 5 - Dec. 11 4. SMU -- -- --
Week 6 - Dec. 18 4. SMU -- -- --
Week 7 - Jan. 8 4. SMU -- -- --
Week 8 - Jan. 16 2. SMU -- -- --
Week 9 - Jan. 23 1. SMU -- -- --
Week 10 - Jan. 30 4. SMU -- -- --


D2CSC Regional Rankings
Poll Team 1 Team 2 Team 3 Team 4 Team 5
Week 1 - Nov. 13 1. SMU 9. NNU -- -- --
Week 2 - Nov. 20 1. SMU T5. CWU 8. UAA RV WWU --
Week 3 - Nov. 27 1. SMU 5. UAA 7. CWU 10. WWU --
Week 4 - Dec. 4 2. SMU 7. WWU 10. CWU RV NNU RV MSUB
Week 5 - Dec. 11 1. SMU 8. WWU 10. CWU -- --
Week 6 - Dec. 18 1. SMU 7. WWU RV CWU -- --
Week 7 - Jan. 8 1. SMU 7. WWU 10. MSUB RV CWU --
Week 8 - Jan. 15 1. SMU 6. MSUB RV NNU RV UAA --
Week 9 - Jan. 22 1. SMU 6. MSUB 10. UAA RV WWU  --
Week 10 - Jan. 29 1. SMU T4. MSUB 9. UAA 10. CWU --


Greeley Named To Bevo Francis Top-100 Watch List

The initial Bevo Francis Award top-100 list featured the name of Saint Martin’s senior guard Kyle Greeley. The award honors the top player within small college basketball annually, and will be refined later in the season as the field of candidates is narrowed down.

GNAC Finds Success Among West Region MBB

With non-conference play having concluded for the 2023-24 season, the GNAC realized notable success among the three NCAA Division II west region conferences. GNAC schools went 29-23 (.558) against CCAA and PacWest opposition during early season competition. Saint Martin’s led the way going 5-0 against the PacWest and 2-0 against the CCAA, while Central Washington went 4-2 against regional foes.

Read More: GNAC Post Winning Marks Against CCAA, PacWest Hoops Opposition (GNAC Commissioner’s Corner)

GNAC Men's Basketball In The NCAA Statistical Rankings

Through games Jan. 30.

Team Leaders (Top-30)
Assist-Turnover Ratio: 18. SMU, 1.45; 19. UAA, 1.45
Assists Per Game: 30. UAA, 16.7
Bench Points/Game: 8. SMU, 39.26; 11. CWU, 36.78
Effective FG %: 12. SPU, .575; 22. WWU, .567
Fastbreak Points: 26. WWU, 15.55
Field Goal %: 15. WWU, 49.9
Field Goal % Defense: 6. SMU, 39.5
Fewest Fouls/Game: 18. CWU, 14.1; 30. MSUB, 14.5
Free Throw Att./Game: 13. WWU, 24.8
Free Throw %: 18. WWU, 78.3; 24. SPU, 77.5
Free Throws/Game: 6. WWU, 19.4
Rebound Margin: 15. SMU, 6.8
Def. Rebounds/Game: 4. SMU, 30.32; 25. CWU, 28.00
Off. Rebounds/Game: 19. NNU, 13.38
Rebounds/Game: 5. SMU, 42.74
Scoring Defense: 3. UAA, 61.6
Scoring Margin: 8. SMU, 15.7; 29. CWU, 10.6
Scoring Offense: 6. WWU, 92.8; 25. SMU, 85.9
3-Point Attempts/Game: 29. SMU, 26.8
3-Point %: 16. SMU, 39.3; 20. WWU, 38.9; 24. SPU, 37.2
3-Point % Defense: 4. UAA, 29.0; 13. CWU, 29.6; 16. SMU, 29.9
3 Pointers/Game: 15. SMU, 10.5
Turnover Margin: 20. UAA, 4.0; 30. NNU, 3.2
Winning Percentage: 3. SMU, .895
Individual Leaders (Top-50)
Assist/Turnover Ratio: 5. Jaden Nielsen-Skinner, SMU, 3.67; 35. Dillon Barrientos, UAA, 2.52
Assists: 42. Jaden Nielsen-Skinner, Saint Martin’s, 88
Assists/Game: 36. Jaden Nielsen-Skinner, Saint Martin’s, 4.9
Blocks/Game: 47. Samaad Hector, Central Washington, 1.53
Field Goal Attempts: 17. Shaw Anderson, SPU, 302; 41. Kai Johnson, WWU, 273
Field-Goal %: 15. Cameron Benzel, WOU, 60.6
Field Goals: 9. Shaw Anderson, SPU, 150; 10. Kai Johnson, WWU, 149
Free Throw Attempts: 5. Kai Johnson, WWU, 156; 42. Shaw Anderson, SPU, 117
Free Throw %: 15. Tijan Saine, WWU, 90.8; 16. Shaw Anderson, SPU, 90.6
Free Throws: 7. Kai Johnson, WWU, 121; 15. Shaw Anderson, SPU, 106
Minutes/Game: 19. Shaw Anderson, SPU, 36:34
Points: 5. Kai Johnson, WWU, 448; 6. Shaw Anderson, SPU, 445
Points Per Game: 7. Kai Johnson, WWU, 22.4; 24. Shaw Anderson, SPU, 20.2
Rebounds: 42. Daniel Moody, MSUB, 157
Def. Rebounds/Game: 24. Daniel Moody, MSUB, 6.53; 34. Samaad Hector, CWU, 6.29
Off. Rebounds/Game: 18. Gabriel Murphy, NNU, 3.38; 28. Abdullahi Mohamed, UAF, 3.13
Rebounds/Game: 38. Samaad Hector, CWU, 8.6
Steals: 38. Tru Allen, NNU, 38
Steals Per Game: 7. Tru Allen, NNU, 2.53
3-Pointers: 44. Tyson Gilbert, UAA, 51
Triple Doubles: 1. Daniel Moody, MSUB, 1; 1. Qiant Myers, WOU, 1
2023-24 GNAC Men's Basketball Players of the Week
Date Offensive Player of the Week
Nov. 6 Tyson Gilbert, Alaska Anchorage
Nov. 13 Kai Johnson, Western Washington
Nov. 20 Qiant Myers, Western Oregon
Nov. 27 Shaw Anderson, Seattle Pacific
Dec. 4 Tru Allen, Northwest Nazarene
Dec. 11 Nic Welp, Western Washington
Dec. 20 Jaron Williams, Alaska Anchorage
Jan. 8 Kyle Greeley, Saint Martin's
Jan. 15 Daniel Moody, Montana State Billings
Jan. 22 Kai Johnson, Western Washington
Jan. 29 Samaad Hector, Central Washington

Jan. 29 GNAC Men’s Basketball Player of the Week

Player of the Week – Samaad Hector, Central Washington

First-career player of the week.

Hector led the Wildcats to a pair of victories with a pair of double-doubles in last week’s action. The senior from Brooklyn, N.Y., had a season-high 23 points to go along with 13 rebounds in CWU’s 97-75 triumph over Western Washington, before adding 17 points and a season-high 14 rebounds in the Wildcats’ 92-68 victory over Simon Fraser. Hector led all GNAC players in rebounding (13.5 rpg) and blocks (2.5 bpg) on the week, while putting up 20.0 points per game. Hector, who leads the GNAC with 1.5 blocks per game, matched his season high with four denials in the victory over Simon Fraser.

Also Nominated: Tyson Gilbert, UAA; Trey Anderson, UAF; Jalen Tot, MSUB; Ryzin Bergersen, NNU; Kyle Greeley, SMU; David Penney, SFU; Kris Cook, WOU; Kai Johnson, WWU.


2023-24 All-Tournament Selections
2023 D2CCA Canadian Tip-Off Classic
Nov. 3-5 at Langley, B.C. (Simon Fraser, Host)
Seattle Pacific: Julian Mora, G
Simon Fraser: Elliot Dimaculangan, G
Western Washington: Kai Johnson, G; Nic Welp, F
GNAC/PacWest Challenge
Nov. 10-11 at Fairbanks, Alaska (Alaska, Host)
Alaska Anchorage: Tyson Gilbert, G- Tournament MVP ; Bishop Tosi, F
Alaska: Nick Hopkins, F
2023 West Region Crossover
Nov. 10-11 at Arcata, Calif. (Cal Poly Humboldt, Host)
Simon Fraser: David Penney, G
Western Washington: Kai Johnson, G – Tournament MVP; BJ Colly, F; Jonathan Ned, F
2023 Big Island Holiday Classic
Dec. 17-18 at Honolulu, Hawaii (Hawaii Hilo Host)
Alaska: Demarcus Hall-Scriven, G
Rank Team (1st Place Votes) 2022-23 GNAC Record (Finish) Points
1. Saint Martin's (9) 24-7 15-3 (1st) 98
2. Northwest Nazarene (1) 15-15 9-9 (T3rd) 85
3. Central Washington 15-15 9-9 (T3rd) 72
4. Western Washington 15-13 8-10 (7th) 66
T5. Montana State Billings 20-10 14-4 (2nd) 52
T5. Seattle Pacific 17-11 12-6 (3rd) 52
7. Alaska Anchorage 13-14 7-11 (9th) 40
8. Western Oregon 12-14 9-9 (T3rd) 36
9. Alaska 11-15 6-12 (8th) 31
10. Simon Fraser 6-22 1-17 (10th) 18

Points awarded on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.


Preseason Player of the Year: Shaw Anderson, Seattle Pacific

Name School Pos. Ht. Yr. Hometown
*$+& Shaw Anderson Seattle Pacific F 6-7 Sr. Kelso, Wash.
*$& Jaden Nielsen-Skinner Saint Martin's G 5-10 Jr. Salem, Ore.
*#& Gabriel Murphy Northwest Nazarene F 6-9 Sr. Tracy, Calif.
*@ Camron McNeil Central Washington G 6-5 Sr. Raleigh, N.C.
*$ Kyle Greeley Saint Martin's G 6-5 Sr. Salem, Ore.
*# Abdullahi Mohamed Alaska F 6-10 Sr. Seattle, Wash.
*!@ BJ Kolly Western Washington F 6-10 So. Everett, Wash.
^&@ Tru Allen Northwest Nazarene G 6-0 Jr. Lapwai, Idaho
*@ Cameron Benzel Western Oregon F 6-7 Jr. Yoncalla, Ore.
# Kai Johnson Western Washington G 6-4 Jr. Olympia, Wash.
% Zharon Richmond Montana State Billings F 6-7 Sr. Billings, Mont.
@ David Penney Simon Fraser G 6-1 Sr. Guelph, Ont.
@ Samaad Hector Central Washington F 6-6 Sr. Vancouver, Wash.
# Tyke Thompson Saint Martin's G 6-8 Sr. Salem, Ore.
Dathan Satchell  Alaska Anchorage G 6-4 Sr. Tracy, Calif.
*Unanimous Selection | !-2022-23 GNAC Freshman of the Year | $-2022-23 First-Team All-GNAC | #-2022-23 Second-Team All-GNAC | @-2022-23 Honorable Mention All-GNAC | ^-2021-22 GNAC Freshman of the Year | &-2021-22 Honorable Mention All-GNAC | +-2019-20 Second-Team All-GNAC | %-2019-20 Honorable Mention All-GNAC