Alaska Stuns Cal State San Marcos In Regional Quarters
Shadeed Shabazz connected on 11 of 19 from the field and 11 of 12 from the free-throw line in the victory. Photo by Felisha Carrasco.
Shadeed Shabazz connected on 11 of 19 from the field and 11 of 12 from the free-throw line in the victory. Photo by Felisha Carrasco.

Friday, March 11, 2022

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – The No. 1 seed never stood a chance.

In a script that Alaska has pulled out repeatedly over the last two weeks, the No. 8 seeded Nanooks led from start to finish to stun top-seeded Cal State San Marcos, 70-63, in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Men’s Basketball West Regional at Coussoulis Arena.

The Nanooks never trailed. While the Cougars forced five ties over the course of the contest, Alaska led for over 38 minutes thanks to a big first half that saw UAF shoot 56.5 percent from the field and 5 of 9 from three-point range. In that same half, Alaska limited Cal State San Marcos to just 31 percent from the field and 1 of 11 from long range while outrebounding the Cougars 20-12.

Alaska finished the night shooting 46.8 percent from the field and 46.2 percent from the three-point line. The Nanooks also made 20 of 22 from the free-throw line and outrebounded San Marcos 42-23.

Senior guard Shadeed Shabazz dazzled the crowd with 35 points, seven rebounds and three assists, connecting on 11 of 19 from the field and 11 of 12 from the free-throw line. Senior guard Koby Huerta and senior forward Coleman Sparling each added 10 points.

Jayce McClain led Cal State San Marcos with 16 points on 7 of 12 from the field. Lyle Sutton added 14 points while Blake Seits and Greg Milton III each scored 12.

With the win, Alaska (13-14) will face the winner of tonight’s final quarterfinal game between No. 4 seeded Point Loma and No. 5 seeded Azusa Pacific on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Cal State San Marcos, which was ranked No. 6 in the D2SIDA Men’s Basketball Media Poll and No. 9 in the NABC Division II Coaches Poll, ends its season with a 20-5 record.

The Nanooks set the pace of the game from the tip, bolting out to a five-point lead just after the first media timeout and building to 14-6 lead on Huerta’s three-pointer at the 14:05 mark. The Cougars eventually closed back to within three points on Milton’s lay-in with 8:32 to go and stayed close for the next five minutes until a pair of Sparling free throws with 4:51 left started a 15-1 run that gave the Nanooks their largest lead of the game, 37-20, on a Sparling three-pointer with 29 seconds left. Seits stopped the bleeding with a three-pointer at the horn to bring the Cougars within 37-23 at the half.

Cal State San Marcos wasted little time cobbling the deficit down to single digits, coming with eight points when Sutton’s lay-in at the 15:34 mark made it a 41-33 game. The Nanooks bumped the lead back to 12 points on a Huerta three-point play, but the Cougars went on a 22-6 run over the next six minutes that brought the game to even when Seits’ fastbreak lay-in tied it at 53-53 with 7:07 to go.

Alaska bent but never broke to the San Marcos pressure. The Cougars tied the game up twice more down the stretch but could never take the lead. The game was knotted at 61-61 with 2:07 left when Shabazz took over for good, scoring seven of the Nanook’s final nine points and seven of the final 11 points of the game for the win.