Biggie Effort: Nighthawks Stun Falcons To Advance
Ryzin Bergerson led Northwest Nazarene with 19 points and keyed an 11-4 run that swung the second half in the Nighthawks' favor.
Ryzin Bergerson led Northwest Nazarene with 19 points and keyed an 11-4 run that swung the second half in the Nighthawks' favor.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

BELLINGHAM, Wash. – In a tale of two halves in the first quarterfinal of the GNAC Men’s Basketball Championships, Northwest Nazarene performed best in the half that mattered most.

The No. 6 seeded Nighthawks came back from a 10-point first-half deficit Thursday to score 49 second-half points to stun No. 3 seeded Seattle Pacific, 82-74, Thursday at Carver Gym.

Sophomore Ryzin Bergerson led four NNU players in double figures with 19 points, keying the critical second-half run that proved the difference in the game. Junior Gabriel Murphy finished with 17 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore Timothy TenKley came off the bench for 15 points on 4 of 5 from the field and sophomore Tru Allen finished with 14 points.

Junior Shaw Anderson led Seattle Pacific with 29 points on 7 of 12 from the field and 13 of 15 from the free-throw line. Sophomore Zack Paulsen added 13 points.

With the win, Northwest Nazarene (13-14) advances to play No. 2 seeded Montana State Billings in the semifinals on Friday at noon. Settle Pacific, which was ranked No. 8 in the latest NCAA West Region Rankings, dropped to 17-11.

Both teams were efficient over the first 10 minutes of the first half with SPU shooting 61.5% from the field and the NNU shooting 55.6%. Seattle Pacific bolted out to a 9-3 run over the first two minutes of the game and Paulsen’s two free throws at the 15:26 mark put the Falcons up by 10, 17-7.

Carson Rouse’s three-pointer put SPU ahead 25-10, with 10:55 to go in the half, but the Nighthawks went on a 10-0 run that culminated on TenKley’s three-pointer at the 8:10 mark that cut the deficit to 25-20. The Falcons wasted no time in swinging the momentum back in their direction with an Anderson dunk making it 29-20 and a Trace Evans lay-in opening up the 33-23 lead with 4:54 left. Both teams traded bucket most of the rest of the stanza as the Falcons went into halftime with a 43-33 lead.

Seattle Pacific closed the first half shooting 66.7% from the field and 60% from three-point range. Northwest Nazarene was also efficient, shooting 52.2% from the field and 71.4% from long range.

The Nighthawks entered the second half with new fire, going on a 15-5 run over the first seven minutes, which ended when Bergerson’s three-pointer at the 13:18 mark tied the contest at 48-48. Northwest Nazarene went took a number of three-point leads over the next six minutes but could not pull away from the Falcons.

That all changed when the Nighthawks pulled away from a 60-60 tie with an 11-4 run over the four minutes. Bergersen fueled the run with five points, including a three-pointer with 3:22 left that put NNU ahead 71-61 with 3:22 left.

After a hot first half, Seattle Pacific couldn't find the spark in the second, shooting just 30.8% from the floor and 15.4% from three-point range. The Nighthawks only got better, shooting 58.6% for the half and finished at 55.8% for the game.