Nanooks Top SFU As Shabazz Shines In Overtime Thriller
Shadeed Shabazz recorded his second career 40-point game in the GNAC Championships to lead Alaska to a win over Simon Fraser. Photo by Rio Giancarlo.
Shadeed Shabazz recorded his second career 40-point game in the GNAC Championships to lead Alaska to a win over Simon Fraser. Photo by Rio Giancarlo.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

SEATTLE, Wash. – Simon Fraser did everything they possibly could. They held the lead for over half the game and hit 11 three-pointers, including their final three attempts of regulation, culminating in a miracle desperation buzzer-beater to send the game to overtime.

None of that could overcome the fact that the other team had Shadeed Shabazz.

The Alaska guard finished with 41 points, one point off his own tournament record, and the No. 10-seed Nanooks survived SFU heroics in regulation to win a classic, 91-83 in overtime, in the first round of the GNAC Men’s Basketball Championships at Royal Brougham Pavilion.

Shabazz shot 14 of 28 from the floor and 12 of 13 from the free-throw line and added seven rebounds, three assists and six steals for good measure. Aside from Shabazz, Coleman Sparling had 15 points for the Nanooks while Abdullahi Mohamed was just shy of a double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds. David Penney had 26 points and Drew Bryson had 17 with four three-pointers in a losing effort for Simon Fraser.

Alaska (9-14) advances to play No. 2 Northwest Nazarene in the quarterfinals on Thursday at 5:15 p.m. in Seattle. Simon Fraser, the tournament No. 7 seed, sees its season come to a close with a 12-13 record.

From early on, the game set up as a guard duel between Shabazz and Penney. Shabazz scored 18 points in the first half while Penney led SFU with 11 as Simon Fraser went to the break with a 38-36 halftime lead, but the game would turn up the heat in the second half.

Shabazz took over at both ends of the floor, scoring at will and creating his own chances by forcing steals, and four of his six came in the second half. The teams were neck-and-neck for much of the second half, but when Shabazz hit two free throws to give him 34 points for the night and give Alaska a 76-70 lead with 48 seconds left, it seemed like the Nanooks were running out the clock. Simon Fraser ranked last in the conference in three-point percentage entering the game, hitting only 31 percent of their triples all season.

In March basketball, however, statistics get thrown out the window, and Simon Fraser rose to meet the moment. Jahmal Wright hit a three for SFU with 38 seconds left, and after Shabazz hit two more free throws, SFU chipped away again with a three from Bryson with nine seconds left. Shabazz was fouled again and left the door open by missing the second of two free throws.

Simon Fraser’s designed play didn’t work, and the ball was deflected towards the sideline with time winding down. Penney barely had time to grab it before spinning a high, arcing turnaround three off his fingertips, and the ball banked in as the red lights of the backboard lit up to tie it at 79-79.

In the extra period, Simon Fraser maintained its momentum by scoring the first four points, but Alaska turned the tide after that. The Nanooks scored the final 12 points of the game, which included four points from Shabazz and a dagger three from Sparling that made it 87-83 with 38 seconds to go.

Sitting at 41 points, Shabazz could have had an opportunity to break his own GNAC Championships scoring record of 42 that he set on Mar. 5, 2020 against Western Oregon, but SFU elected not to foul when Shabazz grabbed the final rebound of the game with three seconds left.