Alaska To Face Cal State San Marcos In Men's West Regional
The trip to the NCAA West Regional is the third for Alaska in the GNAC era. The Nanooks advanced to the championship game in 2004 and 2005. Photo by Ron Smith.
The trip to the NCAA West Regional is the third for Alaska in the GNAC era. The Nanooks advanced to the championship game in 2004 and 2005. Photo by Ron Smith.

Sunday, March 6, 2022

PORTLAND, Ore. – After carrying themselves to an improbable run to the GNAC championship, Alaska now carries the hopes of the conference on its shoulders.

The Nanooks will face No. 1 seed Cal State San Marcos in the first round of the NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball West Regional, which begins on Friday at Coussoulis Arena on the campus Cal State San Bernardino. Alaska was the only GNAC team selected to the eight-team regional field.

Alaska is in its first West Regional since 2005 after its improbable run from No. 10 seed to emerge as the winners of the GNAC Championships to earn the conference’s automatic qualifying berth to the regional. The Nanooks won four straight games to win the GNAC championship, scoring a 91-83 overtime win in the first round over No. 7 Simon Fraser and an 83-62 win over No. 2 Northwest Nazarene in the quarterfinals.

The Nanooks moved south to Lacey on Friday and proceeded to down No. 3 Alaska Anchorage, 63-58, and clinched the trophy with a 72-57 win on Saturday over No. 5 Central Washington. In all four games, the Nanooks played with just seven available players.

Alaska (14-16) enters the West Regional having won its last five games and averages 75.2 points and 34 rebounds per game. They rank second in the GNAC with a .768 free-throw percentage and third with a .373 three-point percentage.

Senior guard Shadeed Shabazz, the GNAC Championships MVP, leads the Nanooks and is 23rd in Division II in scoring at 20.6 points per game. He leads all scorers participating in the West Regional. He also averages 4.9 rebounds per game and is second nationally with 3.17 steals per game. Senior guard Quin Barnard averages 12.6 points per game but did not play in the GNAC Championships.

Sophomore forward Abdullahi Mohamed is averaging 11.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game while senior forward Coleman Sparling is averaging 10.3 points per game while his 8.4 rebounds per contest is fifth in the West Region and second among players in the tournament.

Alaska is 4-3 in the NCAA West Regional during the GNAC era. The Nanooks advanced to the regional final in both 2004 and 2005. In 2004 as the No. 5 seed, Alaska fell to Cal Poly Humboldt in the final, 64-60. They were the No. 5 seed again in 2005, losing 65-58 in the final to Cal Poly Pomona.

Cal State San Marcos enters the West Regional with a 20-4 overall record. Ranked No. 14 in the NABC Division II Poll, the Cougars finished third in the CCAA regular-season standings but claimed the conference’s automatic qualifier with three wins in the CCAA Tournament, including an 85-71 win over Cal State San Bernardino in the final. Senior guard Blake Selts leads the Cal State San Marcos offense, averaging 17 points per game.

The rest of the bracket features No. 2 Cal State San Bernardino against No. 7 Cal Poly Pomona, No. 3 Chico State facing No. 6 Academy of Art and No. 4 Point Loma against No. 5 Azusa Pacific.