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Northwest Nazarene Earns First NCAA Men's Hoops Berth
Northwest Nazarene finished the COVID-19 compressed season with an 11-4 record.
Northwest Nazarene finished the COVID-19 compressed season with an 11-4 record.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS – For the first time as an NCAA Division II member, Northwest Nazarene is headed for the postseason.

Making the most of a season compressed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nighthawks are among the six West Region teams selected for the NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Championship. The 48-team field was announced on Sunday night.

The No. 5 seed in the region, Northwest Nazarene will face No. 4 seed Point Loma in the opening round on Friday. The West Regional will be held at Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado. The winner of that game will face No. 1 seed Colorado Mesa in the semifinals on Saturday.

The game will be a rematch of the Nighthawks’ third game of the season when NNU traveled to San Diego on Jan. 15. They will hope for a better outcome as the Nighthawks fell 87-57 to the Sea Lions.

This is the first time that Northwest Nazarene has qualified for the national tournament since becoming a Division II member. The Nighthawks last appeared in a national tournament in 1999 in the NAIA Division II National Tournament, losing to eventual national runner-up Bethel (Ind.) in the opening round. Northwest Nazarene hosted The NAIA Division II National Tournament from 1993 to 1999.

The Nighthawks finished the regular season with an 11-4 record, opening the year with a 75-72 road upset of Division I Portland State. After the loss to Point Loma, NNU proceeded to win eight straight games. The streak included a sweep of four games from Saint Martin’s and a sweep of three games over Western New Mexico.

Northwest Nazarene enters the regional averaging 79.6 points and 37.9 rebounds per game. The Nighthawks are among the top teams in the nation from the free throw line, ranking 32nd in Division II with a .756 percentage. Senior guard Ezekiel Alley leads NNU with an average of 19.9 points per game while sophomore guard George Reidy is averaging 12.7 points per game.

The lower half of the bracket will feature a pair of PacWest Conference teams as No. 3 seed Biola and No. 4 Fresno Pacific square off in the opening round on Friday. The winner will face No. 2 seed Colorado Mines in the semifinals on Saturday. The championship game will take place on Monday.

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