Greeley, Alcindor Lead Saint Martin's To Men's Final
Kyle Greeley put together a double-double of 23 points and 10 rebounds to lead Saint Martin's to the victory. Photo by Sol Sanchez.
Kyle Greeley put together a double-double of 23 points and 10 rebounds to lead Saint Martin's to the victory. Photo by Sol Sanchez.

Friday, March 3, 2023

BELLINGHAM, Wash. – For the first time since 2018, the top seed will be for the championship.

No. 1 seed Saint Martin’s used a solid second-half performance to advance to the final of the GNAC Men’s Basketball Championships for the first time, scoring a 72-64 win over No. 4 seeded Central Washington on Friday at Carver Gym.

The Saints are the first No. 1 seed to advance to the final since Western Oregon won the 2018 Championships in Anchorage. It is just the sixth time in the 12 years of the tournament that the No. 1 seed has been alive on the final night.

Junior Kyle Greeley led the Saints with a double-double of 23 points and 10 rebounds as SMU shot 43.3% from the field for the game and outrebounded CWU 44-28. Junior Shakeem Alcindor added 18 points and seven rebounds while senior Branden Bunn finished with 14 points.

Junior Camron McNeil led Central Washington with 24 points while senior Isaiah Banks finished with 10 points.

With the victory, Saint Martin’s (23-3) will face No. 6 seed Northwest Nazarene in the final on Saturday at 5 p.m. Central Washington sees its season end with a 14-15 record.

Saint Martin’s opened the game determined to set the pace offensively, opening up the 15-5 lead on a pair of Bunn free throws at the 14:11 mark. The Wildcats responded immediately, going on a 9-0 run that culminated on McNeil’s jumper with 11:04 to go to make it a 15-14 game.

It was close much of the rest of the period with neither team leading by more than four points. The Saints pulled ahead 21-17 on Christian Haffner’s three-pointer with 8:38 left, only to watch the Wildcats tie it at 25-25 on McNeil’s lay-in with 4:23 left. Central Washington closed the stanza with back-to-back three-pointers, one from McNeil and one from Colby Gennett, to take its biggest lead of the period and to go into the break with the 39-33 lead.

Saint Martin’s found its rhythm again entering the second half, going on a 13-5 run over the first four-and-a-half minutes to take a 46-44 lead on Alcindor’s lay-in at the 15:22 mark. The game was tied 46-46 when the Saints went on another 8-3 run, culminating on Bunn’s dunk with 10:44 to go that gave the Saints the 56-48 advantage.

The Saints held the 66-55 lead with 5:05 to go when Central Washington made its last charge to try and keep its five-game win streak alive. McNeil delivered with a three-pointer and Matt Poquette added a lay-up with 3:31 left to bring CWU within 66-60. That is as close as the Wildcats would get with SMU going on an 8-4 run to end the game.