One win forced Falcons into No. 4
SPU grabbed the No. 4 seed in the GNAC to ensure their spot in the postseason tournament.
The men’s basketball team couldn’t drop below fifth place after their early February wins in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, even if they lost their games last week, but the team didn’t let the predetermined place cause their play to flag. The Falcons matched up against Central Washington on Thursday of last week where they dominated the game 82-69. Despite this strong showing, SPU ended the week with a loss, 67-56, against Northwest Nazarene.
Central Washington and Seattle Pacific were tied last week before their matchup for fourth in the GNAC. Although the matchup was supposed to be tight, the Falcons had other ideas. SPU skyrocketed as soon as the ball was tipped off; the team led the entire game and had almost doubled CWU’s score by the mid-way point of the game, 42-27.
The Falcons got ahead by scoring when the Wildcats simply couldn’t. By halftime, CWU was shooting a dry 30 percent overall, compared to SPU’s 41 percent. Going through the second half of the game offense on both sides improved, however Central was unable to even begin to catch up to SPU.
The Falcons’ offense shined with five of the eight players scoring double digits. Hunter Eisenhower and Nikhil Lizotte each tallied 15 points, Gavin Long netted 14, and Nathan Streufert and Coleman Wooten both earned 11.
“I love when our scoring is balance and spread out,” head coach Grant Leep said. “It makes us tougher to cover, and it has become one of the strengths of this group.
Everyone brings a special set of skills, everyone’s contribution matters and is valued. We’ve run the same offense all year. Thursday, our guys did a great job of taking advantage of their opportunities.”
They scored 36 percent of their points in the post and 38 percent of their points came from the Falcons bench.
“Our group was very excited following the win against CWU,” Leep said. “Last season as we were still alive for a tournament spot on the final weekend, we needed help from other teams; there were outcomes needed that were out of our control. This year, it was on us. We knew Thursday if we won, we would be in. That gave our team a better focus going into that game.”
Despite the dominating win last Thursday, the team took to the court against a Northwest Nazarene who was ranked three spots below Central, No. 7, and lost.
The loss came at a double digit margin, 67-56.
“We were very flat last night,” Leep said. “We missed out on an opportunity to improve and be at our collective best. There is a lesson to be learned from yesterday’s loss. Now, that we’re in the postseason, a loss means we are finished. We need to bring our best every time we step out on the court.”
SPU found themselves with only two double digit scorers, Gabe Colosimo hit 20 points and Long earned 12.
“NNU is a good team,” Leep said “They were still alive for the sixth seed in the tournament coming into this weekend. They are an explosive team with 2 players in the top 3 in scoring in the GNAC. I thought we guarded them fairly well, but were just never able to find our rhythm on offense.”
The Falcons still safely landed in the fourth seed with an 11-9 conference record.
The squad will have its first postseason matchup on March 1 at Alaska Anchorage for the quarter finals.
“We are excited to be in the conference tournament after just missing out last year,” Leep said. “It will be a tough match-up against UAA. They are well coached and always prepared.
Despite being the ‘home’ team on the scoreboard, this is a road game for us, and we need to have that mindset from the start. We are looking forward to this opportunity and doing our best to take advantage of it.”