Dominant First Half Propels Wildcats to First GNAC Victory
in northwest Nazarene
14.01.2023 | 6:00 p.m
January 14 (Sat.) / 18:00
in northwest Nazarene
History MOSIS LAKE, LAJ. – Central Washington men’s basketball defeated Alaska Fairbanks 78-66 Saturday night at Big Bend Community College. The Wildcats used a dominant first half with 7 threes and solid defense to propel them to victory.
HEAD COACH BRANDON RINTA’S QUOTE
“It won’t show on the stat sheet, but Isaiah Banks sparked us with his defensive energy in the first half. That was as good of 20 minutes of defense as we’ve played. Alaska Fairbanks is a good team and we counterattack in the second half”.
Rinta added, “I thought our guys did a good job of sticking together and finding a way to get the momentum back in those last 7 minutes. Brock, Colby and Cam came up with some big plays for us all night.”
The ‘Cats dominated the first 20 minutes to take a 41-23 lead into halftime. Isaiah Banks and Samaad Hector got the Wildcats rolling early with two-and-three runs to take a 12-4 advantage. The Wildcats went on a 13-0 run that included two triples by Colby Gennett and a slam by Matt Poquette to extend the lead to 28-6 with 9:18 left in the half. The Nanooks responded with a 7-0 run, but a three by Brock Gilbert ended the half and gave the ‘Cats an eighteen point lead at the break.
The Wildcats shot 53.6% from the field, made 7 from beyond the arc and scored 13 points off turnovers. Meanwhile, the Nanooks went 23.1% from the floor, making three from deep and converting 8 from the free throw line.
Banks opened the second half with a block for the center and both teams traded baskets for the next three minutes. Colby Gennett drained one from beyond the arc to make it 47-30 with 16:45 left to go. The Nanooks battled back with two free throws, going on an 8-0 run to cut the deficit to seven. Another layup by Fairbanks made it 51-47 with 11:53 left. A 6-0 run by CWU and two clutch goals by Gilbert and Spivey helped the Wildcats regain their double-digit lead. Central played smart in the field to earn its first conference win.
The Wildcats shot 49% from the field, made 11 from beyond the arc and added 15 free throws. CWU scored 21 points off goals and dished out 16 assists.
Brock Gilbert led the ‘Cats with a preseason 18 points with 8 assists. Gilbert went 5-7 from the field while nailing three from behind the arc. Additionally, McNeil scored 16, Gennett had 12 and Hector contributed 10.
In the loss, Abdullahi Mohamed scored 19 points, Bryan Nguyen scored 14 and Tyler Mrus 13.
The Wildcats (5-10, 1-5 GNAC) will use that momentum heading into a three-game road trip. The Cats face Northwest Nazarene (6-8, 3-3 GNAC) on Jan. 14 at 6 p.m., and rivals Western Washington (9-6, 2-3 GNAC) on Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. CWU will then to travel. for Simon Fraser (5-10, 0-5 GNAC) on Saturday, Jan. 21, with tipoff at 7 p.m.