Mohamed's Career-High Helps Nanooks Pull 10-2 Upset
Abdullahi Mohamed (left) shot 12 of 18 from the field on his way to a career-high 32 points in Alaska's GNAC Championships quarterfinal win. Photo by Rio Giancarlo.
Abdullahi Mohamed (left) shot 12 of 18 from the field on his way to a career-high 32 points in Alaska's GNAC Championships quarterfinal win. Photo by Rio Giancarlo.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

SEATTLE, Wash. – Another day, another outstanding individual performance from Alaska at the GNAC Men’s Basketball Championships. And when the clock hit zeroes, it was another upset for the 10th-seeded Nanooks, the biggest of the tournament so far.

Alaska took what was a close game in the first half and turned it into a rout, knocking off No. 2 seed Northwest Nazarene 83-62 in the quarterfinals of the GNAC Men’s Basketball Championships at Royal Brougham Pavilion.

Abdullahi Mohamed scored a career-high 32 points, 23 of which came in the second half, while adding 10 rebounds for a double-double. Shadeed Shabazz, who got the Nanooks to this point by scoring 41 points in an overtime first-round victory, added 19 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals, and Coleman Sparling chipped in 18 points while shooting 5 of 7 from the field.

Alaska (10-14) continues its run in the tournament and will face either No. 3 Alaska Anchorage or No. 6 Seattle Pacific in the semifinals on Friday at Marcus Pavilion in Lacey.

For Northwest Nazarene (12-9), which entered as the second seed in the conference and the No. 9 seed in the NCAA’s regional rankings, it’s a somewhat unexpected one-and-done. Tru Allen finished with a game-high 14 points for the Nighthawks while point guard George Reidy had six points and four steals.

Alaska was efficient, shooting 54 percent from the field for the game, 46 percent from three and 80 percent from the line. On the other end, they held the Nighthawks to 40 percent from the field and 21 percent (5 of 23) from beyond the arc. The Nanooks also out-rebounded NNU 37-27 and boatraced them in transition, tallying 27 fast break points to NNU’s seven.

Shabazz looked ready to repeat his explosive first-round scoring performance early on, accounting for nine of Alaska’s first 12 points in the first five-and-a-half minutes. Three-pointers from Mohamed and Kobi Huerta followed by a layup from Sparling opened up a 22-11 lead for the Nanooks with ten minutes down.

Northwest Nazarene clawed all the way back to take the lead before the break. Timothy TenKley hit a pair of three-pointers, the second of which made it 26-21 Alaska with five minutes left in the first half. After a layup from Gabriel Murphy, Reidy used a sweet no-look pass to find Christian Rose for a wide-open dunk under the hoop, then hit a three-pointer on NNU’s next possession. All of a sudden, NNU had a 28-26 lead, and they entered halftime up by the same margin at 32-30.

After the halftime interval, Alaska took the lead right back. Mohamed tied it with a layup and surged the Nanooks ahead with a three-point play, kickstarting a stretch of 12 points in the first six minutes of the second half for the Eastern Washington transfer. Mohamed finished shooting 12 of 18 from the field, a perfect 3 for 3 from three and 5 of 7 from the line.

Sparling also heated up in the second half, scoring 15 of his 18 and going 3 of 4 from behind the arc for the game. Willie Thomas III provided energy off the bench as a big man, recording two steals and two blocks and providing a couple of emphatic dunks as Alaska coasted late in the second half.