Nov. 4, 2014
Wildcat Men's Basketball Team Levels Blue Angels in Exhibition Opener
The Central Washington University men's basketball team defeated Another Level Blue Angels 120-92 in the Wildcats' exhibition season opener Monday in Nicholson Pavilion.
Central held the Blue Angels to just two points over the first five minute, while taking a 12-2 lead. The Wildcats were hot early from the perimeter, connecting on five consecutive three-point shots on the way to a 24-15 lead midway through the first half.
But the Blue Angels, a team comprised of former collegiate standouts, battled back and took the lead, 3--36, on a Jake Anderson basket with 5:15 remaining in period and extended the lead to as many as four points.
Jordan Russell got the lead back for good for Central, 47-46, with his fifth-straight three-point shot with a minute left in the half and followed that up with his sixth consecutive triple as he ended the first half with 20 points. CWU led at the break 50-48, fueled by 10 of 18 shooting from behind the three-point arc.
"When I put us [back] up, we [the Wildcats] knew we were good going into the half," Russell said. "But we knew we would have to fight to stay up."
CWU did just that, turning up the defensive intensity to begin the second half while, on offense, Gary Jacobs scored seven quick points as the Wildcats ran out to an early double-digit lead 63-52. From that point, the Cats exploded, going on a 24-2 run—while connecting on 13 of their first 18 field goal tries in the second half—to build the lead to 84-54 on Terry Dawn's three-pointer with 11:58 left in the game.
"I thought the run in the second half was started by our defense," said CWU head coach Greg Sparling. "We were able to go down a capitalize on some turnovers. We showed glimpses of old Central basketball by getting up and pressuring, and getting turnovers. When we play hard and do the right things, good things will happen. "
The Wildcats cruised home to the victory, behind an 18 for 31 shooting night from behind the three-point arc.
"We shot the ball extremely well," acknowledged Sparling. "We've got a lot of different guys who can shoot the basketball."
Russell led the way with 24 points, while adding six assists, in just 19 minutes of action. He called it one of the top three games of his collegiate career.
"I just wanted to go out there and play hard and have a good first game for our team," he pointed out.
He was one of six Wildcats in double figures. Jacobs and Drake Rademacher added 16 apiece, while Dawn scored 15 points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds in 16 minutes off the bench.
"Our team is coming together and the chemistry is going really well," added Russell.
Former Wildcat great Chris Sprinker scored seven points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Blue Angels.
"They're a young team and they came out a little bit flat in the first half," said Sprinker of the Wildcats. "But I liked to see the fact that they came out hard and with a little bit of spark in the second half. I think a lot of people may be underestimating them this year. They're a team to watch, for sure."
CWU next plays at the Seattle Pacific University Sodexo Tip-Off Classic Nov. 14-15. On Friday, CWU takes on University of Minnesota, Crookston. Saturday, the opponent is Academy of Art. Each of those games is scheduled for a 3 p.m. tipoff.