The Falcons men’s basketball squad is one of four teams caught in a tie for first place in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
Saint Martin’s, Northwest Nazarene, Western Oregon and Seattle Pacific have all netted the same conference record of 3-1, which has left them tussling for an early No. 1 spot in the GNAC. SPU has only gone head-to-head with one of those conference foes, Northwest Nazarene on Nov. 29, and it ended in a nail-biting loss, 87-86. Along with the conference matchups, SPU has encountered plenty of non-conference foes to add to their overall record, 6-3.
Despite the single point loss against NNU, the Falcons regrouped and punished any competitor in their path. A four straight win streak against Central Washington 97-82, Concordia CA. 76-59, Western Washington 86-72, and the team’s most recent victory, on Saturday, Jan. 5, against Simon Fraser was completed with the largest scoring margin this season, 94-66.
The borderline 30-point victory was a massive team effort. Six different players notched double-digit scores: Gavin Long with 17, Nikhil Lizotte and Divant’e Moffitt both had 14, Harry Cavell netted 13, Coleman Wooten posted 12 points and Sam Simpson had 11.
“The main things we need to focus on tonight are taking away their open threes, rebounding the ball on both ends and taking care of the ball. When we focus on those things, we play pretty well,” head coach Grant Leep said before the Simon Fraser matchup.
The game this past Saturday also marked the Falcons second highest scoring game of the season, and with last place Alaska Fairbanks next up on the Falcons’ game schedule the hot streak should continue. AFU has fallen to the bottom on the GNAC with a 1-3 conference record and most recently allowed Western Oregon University to score 97 points on them.
The Alaska Fairbanks game will happen at home on Thursday, Jan. 10 at 7 p.m. However, the Jan. 10 matchup will not conclude the Falcons home court advantage this week. On Jan. 12, the Falcons will clash with the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves at 4 p.m.
The Seawolves hold the No. 2 spot in the GNAC, after the four-way tie for first, with a 2-2 conference record and a 7-5 overall record. Seawolves have played well rounded defense, only allowing an average of 70 points per game. 73 is their highest points allowed in a game, excluding the 89-point total scored by Montana State Billings early in December.
AAU’s defense matches up well with the Falcons high-powered offense. The Falcons have had at least four players earn double-digit points in the last four matchups, and in three of those matchups the Falcons had five players net double-digit point totals.
Leep said he is excited for the next games to come. He mentioned last season that he was excited for the start of the 2018-2019 season, because the team would have 12 players back from the previous season which gave him the opportunity to build up the team.
The team’s depth has benefited from the 12 players coming back from the previous year, Leep said early this week.
“We need to keep playing together. This team has very good depth and when guys come off the bench, we don’t have much of a drop off in the level of play.”