Vikings, Seawolves On Rolls Entering Conference Play
Alaska Anchorage's Da'Zhon Wyche was named the MVP of the Mt. McKinley Bank North Star Invitational. He currently leads Division II with 22 steals.
Alaska Anchorage's Da'Zhon Wyche was named the MVP of the Mt. McKinley Bank North Star Invitational. He currently leads Division II with 22 steals.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

PORTLAND, Ore. – A statement win early in the season has the potential to set a team up for a run of success.

Western Washington will be hoping that is the case after a statement win of its own Saturday, going overtime to beat Point Loma, 91-89, on the road in overtime.

Picked to finish second in the PacWest Conference (by one vote to Azusa Pacific), the Sea Lions appeared to build some second-half momentum as they pulled away from a 39-38 halftime lead to go ahead 58-49 with 13:27 to go in the second half. The Vikings came back to tie it at 67-67 on a pair of Jonathan Ned free throws but trailed again late until senior guard Daniel Hornbuckle nailed a three-pointer at the horn to force overtime.

Point Loma scored the first five points of the extra period but was outscored 11-4 over the final 2 minutes, 45 seconds as the Vikings roared back for the win. Junior guard D’Angelo Minnis was the hero of overtime, scoring eight of his 12 points in the stanza and accounting for all but three of the team’s 11 overtime points.

The win capped a 2-0 week for the Vikings, which also saw them blowout Maine-Fort Kent at home on Tuesday, 108-54.

Vikings’ sophomore guard Kai Johnson was honored as the GNAC Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for a near-perfect performance in the two games. Johnson averaged 17.5 points and five rebounds and made 13 of 14 from the field and 7 of 10 from the free-throw line. He led WWU at Point Loma with 25 points on 9 of 9 from the field and 6 of 8 from the line.

NORTH STAR INVITATIONAL: The temperature barely climbed above 15 degrees outside in Fairbanks but inside both Alaska and Alaska Anchorage heated up the floor in the Mt. McKinley Bank North Star Invitational on Friday and Saturday.

The Seawolves made the most of the trip to the tournament, scoring a pair of wins to improve to 4-3 on the season. On Friday, UAA held off a second-half rally by Westminster (Utah) to spirit away the 81-77 win. On Saturday, the Seawolves led for the final 38 minutes as they handed Texas A&M International its first loss of the season, 65-48.

Senior guard Da’Zhon Wyche was named tournament MVP as he averaged 13.5 points and six rebounds per game, capped by 20 points, nine rebounds and eight assists against Texas A&M International. Junior guard Sawyer Storms was among the all-tournament team selections after he averaged 17.5 points per game and shot 65% from the floor, led by a 23-point performance against Westminster.

The host Nanooks took a split to keep their record even at 3-3, dropping a 65-56 decision to Texas A&M International on Friday before beating Westminster 72-65 on Saturday. Alaska bolted out to a 35-27 halftime lead against the Griffins on Saturday and never looked back, shooting 53.2% from the field and 50% from three-point range for the game.

Junior forward Abdullahi Mohamed earned all-tournament team honors, averaging 16 points and 4.5 rebounds per game while shooting 60% from the floor. Mohamed did his most damage against Texas A&M International, finishing with 26 points on 7 of 11 from the field and 12 of 13 from the free-throw line.

FALCONS OPEN HOME SCHEDULE WITH WINS: After playing its first four games of the season on the road, Seattle Pacific showed little mercy to opponents in winning its first two home contests last week.

On Tuesday, the Falcons blistered Douglas 114-63 on a night where the home team shot 57.3% from the field. Seattle Pacific led 63-30 at halftime, making 26 of 42 from the field and 9 of 18 from three-point range in the opening 20 minutes.

Freshman forward Jonas La Tour came off the bench to lead SPU with 22 points and eight rebounds in 26 minutes. In total, six SPU players scored in double figures.

Saturday was another big win for the Falcons with a smaller spread in the final score, knocking off Warner Pacific 97-71. Five players scored in double figures, led by sophomore guard Zach Paulsen’s 19 points. Junior guard Ben Baker-McCann was close to a triple-double with totals of 14 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists in 22 minutes off the bench.

PRESEASON FAVORITES TAKE FIRST LOSS: After opening the week with a big win over its Thurston County rivals, Saint Martin’s took its first loss of the season on Friday to Academy of Art, 78-73.

The Saints trailed most of the first half and were behind 39-30 at halftime. They came back to tie the contest 54-54 midway through the second half and held a four-point lead with 8:34 left, but the Urban Knights outscored the Saints 11-7 over the next five minutes to swing the momentum late. Junior guard Kyle Greeley led SMU with 22 points and seven rebounds, making 8 of 13 from the field.

On Tuesday, Saint Martin’s easily took care of Evergreen State, 70-49. All but one SMU player scored in the game, with Greeley leading the way with 11 points in 22 minutes of work.

THE REST OF THE SCHEDULE: Montana State Billings dropped both games last week, falling 97-38 at Black Hills State on Wednesday and 76-71 at South Dakota Mines on Saturday…Northwest Nazarene also lost both games at its own NNU Thanksgiving Classic, 65-64 to Azusa Pacific on Friday and 78-57 to Midwestern State on Saturday. Central Washington also lost both games in the tournament, 69-67 to Midwestern State on Friday and 89-79 to Azusa Pacific on Saturday…Simon Fraser dropped both games on its first road trip of the season, falling 72-61 at Western Colorado on Friday and 77-62 at Colorado Mesa on Saturday.

IN THE DIVISION II STATISTICS: Saint Martin’s ranks second in Division II with 34.2 three-point attempts per game while Seattle Pacific is eighth with a .342 three-point percentage. The Falcons rank 12th with a .524 field goal percentage…Simon Fraser ranks sixth with 5.8 blocked shots per game…Alaska is 10th with an .829 free-throw percentage…Northwest Nazarene is 25th in Division II with 41.3 rebounds per game and ranks fifth with 16.8 offensive boards per game…Western Washington’s Kai Johnson ranks ninth individually with a .688 field goal percentage…The Nighthawks’ Tru Allen is seventh with 52 free throw attempts and 10th with 39 made while Montana State Billings’ Carrington Wiggins is 27th with a .935 free-throw percentage…Seattle Pacific’s Shaw Anderson is 18th in scoring at 22.5 points per game…Alaska Anchorage’s Da’Zhon Wyche leads Division II with 22 steals and is fourth with 3.14 steals per game.

IN THE POLLS: Saint Martin’s climbed from among those receiving votes in the preseason to No. 19 in last week’s NABC Division II Coaches Poll and were ranked No. 22 in the D2SIDA Media Poll. Montana State Billings picked up one point in last week’s NABC poll.

THE WEEK AHEAD: Just one GNAC team engages a non-conference opponent as Western Washington hosts Capilano on Tuesday before conference play opens with nine games on Thursday and Saturday.

Preseason favorite Saint Martin’s will make just its second road trip of the season, testing its 5-1 record at Northwest Nazarene on Thursday and Central Washington on Saturday. The Nighthawks will then host Western Oregon on Saturday, closing out a five-game homestand. Northwest Nazarene will enter the new year having played eight of its first 11 games in Canyon County.

Alaska and Alaska Anchorage are home for the opening week. The Seawolves host Montana State Billings on Thursday while the Nanooks host Seattle Pacific. The road teams flip locations on Saturday.

Western Washington and Simon Fraser will engage in a border battle on Saturday on Burnaby Mountain.