High Offensive Output Powers Men's Hoops Action
Alaska's Travante Williams scored 35 points on Thursday against Western Washington and finished two assists short of a triple double in Saturday's win over Simon Fraser.
Alaska's Travante Williams scored 35 points on Thursday against Western Washington and finished two assists short of a triple double in Saturday's win over Simon Fraser.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

AND THEN THERE WAS ONE: After three full weeks of GNAC competition, only Alaska Anchorage has succeeded to get through unscathed. The Seawolves picked up their fifth and sixth wins of the season over the weekend and extended their current win streak to seven games. Their efforts earned UAA selection as the GNAC Red Lion Hotels Team of the Week.

On Thursday, Alaska Anchorage never trailed and led by as much as 16 points early in the second half on their way to a 96-83 win over Simon Fraser. Sekou Wiggs led the Seawolves with 23 points, connecting on 7 of 14 from the field and 7 of 8 from the free throw line. Christian Leckband added 21 points off the bench on 9 of 13 from the field.

On Saturday, Western Washington provided the Seawolves their toughest test to date on the conference schedule. After leading by as much as 13 early in the second half, the Vikings came back to tie the game at 75-75 with 6:28 left before three Wiggs’ free throws with less than 10 seconds left allowed UAA the 87-84 win. Wiggs again led the way with 21 points while Spencer Svejcar added 18 points.

The Seawolves enter the week leading the GNAC in scoring margin (+14.5) and are second in three-point shooting defense (.330), rebounding margin (+6.8). They lead Division II with 370 free throws made and are third with 471 free throws attempted and 295 total assists.

Individually, Wiggs enters the week leading the GNAC with an average of 23.8 points per game. He is second in Division II in both free throws made (126) and attempted (165), third in total points (276), fourth in total field goal attempts (276) and ninth in total field goals made (124). Corey Hammell leads Division II with 4.71 offensive rebounds per game and is fourth with his nine double-doubles.

KEEPING UP APPEARANCES: After taking their first GNAC loss and first overall losses of the season the previous week, Western Oregon rebounded to take a pair of high profile games last week. The Wolves had their hands full with Seattle Pacific, but outscored the Falcons 19-14 in the overtime period for a 96-90 win. Andy Avgi led the way for Western Oregon, pouring in 34 points on 15 of 22 from the field, tying himself with 11 others for No. 10 on the GNAC single-game list for field goals made. Julian Nichols added 23 points on 7 of 11 from both the field and from three-point range.

In hosting the first ROOT SPORTS GNAC Game of the Week on Saturday, Western Oregon gave the home fans and television viewers a show in a 74-61 win over Saint Martin’s. The Wolves excelled by shooting 12 of 31 from three-point range and turning the ball over just five times. Avgi again led the Wolves with 24 points on 7 of 12 from the field and 6 of 7 from the free throw line to go along with four three-pointers.

Western Oregon enters the week ranked No. 4 in the D2SIDA Division II Media Poll and No. 11 in the NABC Division II Rankings and are the No. 1 ranked team in the D2SIDA West Region rankings for fifth consecutive week. The Wolves lead the GNAC in steals with 9.93 per game as Tanner Omlid leads the nation with an average of three steals per game. The Wolves rank second in the GNAC in scoring defense (69.6 points allowed per game) and three-pointer made per game (9.00). Individually, Avgi ranks second in the GNAC with 21.3 points per game and is third in field goal percentage (.590). Nichols leads the league and is 14th in Division II with a 3.19 assist/turnover ratio.

THE OVER 30 CLUB: It was a week for big scoring performances all across the GNAC last week. Men’s and women’s players combined for six scoring performances of 30 points or more. Two of those came in the same game in Fairbanks on Thursday night. Western Washington’s Jeffrey Parker blew up for 39 points on 15 of 28 from the field and 8 of 17 from three-point range. His 15 field goals tied him for 10th in the GNAC single game best list while the eight three-pointers ties him for 15th.

Alaska’s Travante Williams, meanwhile, put up incredible numbers himself by scoring 35 points to go along with 12 rebounds and six steals to lead the Nanooks in the overtime loss. He made 10 of 27 from the field and 12 of 13 from the free throw line. Williams just missed a triple-double on Saturday in UAF’s win over Simon Fraser, finishing with 21 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists.

The same night, Western Oregon’s Andy Avgi added his previously mentioned 34-point performance lead the Wolves past Seattle Pacific 96-90.

The Falcons’ Mitch Penner followed up on Saturday with a 30-point performance to lead SPU past Concordia 91-63. Penner connected on 11 of 15 from the field and 6 of 6 from the free throw line to go along with four assists.
Of the 11 men’s 30-plus point performances, six have come since Jan. 1. Alaska Anchorage’s Sekou Wiggs has three of the performances.

GETTING THEIR CAVS IN SHAPE: Concordia continues to learn the ropes of GNAC and Division II play. After picking up their first GNAC win last weekend, the Cavaliers delivered a 62-59 win over Saint Martin’s at home on Thursday for their second conference victory. Tyler Gutierrez contributed 20 points in the win on 8 of 13 from the field and six rebounds. Concordia enters the week eighth in the GNAC with a 2-4 conference record, 4-9 overall.

BIG DEFENSIVE WINGSPAN: Seattle Pacific continues to be one of the top defensive teams in Division II. The Falcons enter the week leading Division II in rebounding margin at +12.6 and are second in three-point shooting defense, allowing teams 25.6 percent per game. In the GNAC, the Falcons lead the league in scoring defense (65.6 allowed per game, 13th in Division II), field goal percentage defense (.392), three-point percentage defense, rebounding defense and rebounding margin.

DEPARTMENT OF ACHES AND PAINS: Montana State Billings’ Jace Anderson, the reigning GNAC Player of the Week, will miss the rest of the season after suffering a knee injury in final minute of the Yellowjackets’ 77-75 win on Jan. 2 over Western Washington...Central Washington head coach Greg Sparling will miss at least the next two weeks after he injured himself over the weekend slipping on ice in Ellensburg, requiring surgery. Assistant coach Drew Harris has assumed head coaching duties in Sparling’s absence.

INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCES OF NOTE: Gary Jacobs led Central Washington with 18 points amd made 8 of 10 from the field in the Wildcats’ 98-72 win at Northwest Nazarene. Teammate Joey Roppo then scored 19 points on 6 of 9 from the field and 6 of 6 from the free throw line in Saturday’s win over Montana State Billings, leading all five CWU starters in double figures...Northwest Nazarene’s Detwon Rogers scored 27 points off the bench to go along with eight rebounds in the Crusaders’ win over Montana State Billings...Graham Smith scored 14 points and had eight rebounds off the bench in Thursday’s loss to Alaska Anchorage...Kendall Denham scored 25 points off the bench, connecting on 8 of 11 from the field and 5 of 8 from three-point in Montana State Billings’ loss to Northwest Nazarene on Thursday...Gilles Dierickx of Seattle Pacific scored 25 points and made 9 of 17 from the field in Thursday’s overtime loss at Western Oregon...Western Washington’s Kyle Impero scored 24 points and had nine rebounds in Saturday’s loss to Alaska Anchorage...Concordia’s Drew Martin scored 24 points and made 9 of 17 from the field to go along with four steals in Saturday’s loss to Seattle Pacific.

IN THE NATIONAL POLLS: With their two wins over Seattle Pacific and Saint Martin’s, Western Oregon jumped two spots up to No. 4 in the D2SIDA Division II Media Poll and three spots to No. 11 in the NABC Division II Rankings. Seattle Pacific, who was ranked No. 24 in the NABC poll last week, dropped out or the first time since the preseason poll but led a list of three GNAC teams among those receiving votes with five. Alaska Anchorage picked up three votes and Central Washington received one vote. The Falcons also received four points in the D2SIDA rankings. The D2SIDA West Region Rankings finds Western Oregon at No. 1 for the fifth consecutive week. Alaska Anchorage is tied for fifth, Seattle Pacific is seventh and Alaska is 10th.

GNAC GAME OF THE WEEK ON ROOT SPORTS: Five GNAC Games of the Week will air on ROOT SPORTS this season will air this season, with the next men’s game coming up on Sat., Jan. 23, with Western Washington playing at Central Washington. Brad Adam will once again provide the play-by-play descriptions while Francis Williams will serve as the color analyst.

The three men's games join two women's contests to air on ROOT SPORTS and seven GNAC contests that will be featured on television this season. In addition to the ROOT SPORTS schedule, the championship doubleheader of the GNAC’s postseason tournament on Sat., Mar. 5, will be carried live throughout the country as part of the Division II Basketball National Showcase on the American Sports Network. The men’s game tips off at 5:30 p.m. PST and will be followed by the women’s title game at 7:30 p.m. PST.

In all, the GNAC will be featured either regionally or nationally three times in January, twice in February and twice in March. The 2015-16 campaign marks the seventh consecutive season in which the GNAC will have a presence on ROOT SPORTS, the premier regional sports network in the Pacific Northwest, and the third consecutive year in which the conference has featured a “Game of the Week” series on the network.

“The GNAC is extremely pleased to continue our Game of the Week series on ROOT SPORTS,” said conference commissioner Dave Haglund. “This has been a successful and long-standing association and helps expose our great brand of basketball to fans in our conference footprint and beyond. And we are looking forward to featuring our conference tournament championship games on the DII basketball showcase and reaching an even wider audience for the GNAC.”

GNAC Men’s Basketball Games On ROOT SPORTS
Sat., Jan. 9: Saint Martin’s at Western Oregon, 9 p.m. (Pacific)
Sat., Jan. 23: Western Washington at Central Washington, 6 p.m. (Pacific)
Sat., Feb. 20: Montana State Billings at Seattle Pacific, 9 p.m. (Pacific)

For satellite subscribers, ROOT SPORTS can be found on DirecTV channel 687 and Dish Network channel 426.

GNAC PRESEASON POLL - WESTERN WASHINGTON PICKED TO WIN: For the second year in a row, Western Washington is picked as the team to beat by conference coaches in the annual Great Northwest Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Preseason Poll.
The Vikings received five of 11 first place votes and a total of 114 points, finishing just ahead of defending regular season champion Western Oregon. The Wolves netted four first place votes and a total of 106 points.

Seattle Pacific, who finished second in the conference last year and won the GNAC Tournament championship, is picked third with a total of 100 points. The Falcons received the remaining two first place votes.

After a successful start in their non-conference schedule, Western Washington stumbled to lose seven of their first 10 GNAC games. The Vikings rebounded to win eight straight to end the regular season, tying for fifth to claim a spot in the GNAC Tournament. The Vikings went on to beat Alaska Anchorage and Western Oregon to claim a spot in the tournament final, where they lost to Seattle Pacific. Western Washington finished the season with a 20-11 overall record.

PRESEASON ALL-GNAC TEAM, AVGI PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Western Oregon forward Andy Avgi, the defending GNAC Player of the Year, added another award to his preseason arsenal as he was selected by the league’s head coaches as the GNAC Preseason Player of the Year. The senior was a unanimous selection for the honor, receiving 10 first place votes in the balloting (coaches could not vote for their own players).

Avgi was one of eight unanimous selections to the squad and is the only player on the list to be selected for a third year in a row. Joining him as a repeat selection on the 15-man squad were Western Washington forward Jeffrey Parker, WWU guard Ricardo Maxwell, Alaska Anchorage guard Brian McGill and Alaska guard Joe Slocum.

Other unanimous selections to the team include Parker, Maxwell, McGill, Western Oregon guard Julian Nichols, Seattle Pacific forward Mitch Penner, Montana State Billings guard/forward Momir Gataric and Central Washington center Joseph Stroud.

ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAMS: The following GNAC players have been selected to all-tournament teams during the 2015-16 season:
GNAC/PacWest Crossover (Nov. 13-14, Fairbanks): Travante Williams, UAF (Most Valuable Player).
Seawolf Jamboree (Nov. 21-22, Anchorage): Sekou Wiggs, UAA (Most Outstanding Player); Bangaly Kaba, UAF; Travante Williams, UAF.
Sodexo Classic (Nov. 21-22, Seattle): Gary Jacobs, CWU (Most Valuable Player); Joseph Storud, CWU; Bryce Leavitt, SPU.
GCI Great Alaska Shootout (Nov. 25-27, Anchorage): Sekou Wiggs, UAA.
Oak Harbor Freight Lines Classic (Dec. 11-12, Seattle): Mitch Penner, SPU (Most Valuable Player); Gilles Dierickx, SPU; Preston Beverly, MSUB.

Jeffrey Parker
Western Washington
F • 6-6 • Jr. • Richmond, Calif.
Parker averaged 30 points per game, hit 50 percent from the field (22-44) and 42.3 percent from three-point range (11-26) as the Vikings split their games. Parker exploded for 39 points and 11 rebounds in Thursday’s 100-99 overtime win. His 15 field goals made ties him for 10th in the GNAC single game performance list and his eight three-pointers made is tied for 15th. In Saturday’s loss to Alaska Anchorage, Parker contributed 21 points on 7 of 16 from the field. Parker enters the week ranked third in the GNAC in scoring, averaging 19.3 points per game, and is second in three-pointers made (2.8 per game).

Andy Avgi
Western Oregon
F • 6-6 • Sr. • Woodburn, Ore.
Avgi averaged 29 points in two games, connecting on 64.7 percent from the field (22-34) and 5 of 10 from three-point range as the No. 6/14 ranked Wolves beat both Seattle Pacific and Saint Martin’s. In the 96-90 overtime win over the Falcons, Avgi scored 34 points on 15 of 22 from the field with four blocks. In Saturday’s televised 74-61 win over Saint Martin’s, Avgi scored 24 points as he connected on 7 of 12 from the field and 4 of 7 from three-point range. Avgi enters the week ranked second in the GNAC in scoring (21.3 points per game) and is third in field goal percentage (.590).

Also Nominated: Kendall Denham (Montana State Billings), Bouna N’Diaye (Northwest Nazarene), Cole Preston (Saint Martin’s), Spencer Svejar (Alaska Anchorage), Travante Williams (Alaska).