Jan. 23, 2015
Wildcat Men's Basketball Wins for Second Straight Year in Anchorage
The Central Washington University men's basketball team opened the game on a 9-0 and led by as many as 16 in the first half, then held off a rally by the University of Alaska Anchorage for a 77-68 win in Anchorage Thursday. It was the second consecutive year that the Wildcats (11-4, 6-2 Great Northwest Athletic Conference) have won at UAA (9-9, 5-3 GNAC), though this year's game was played in the new, 5,000 seat Alaska Airlines Center on campus.
"In the first half, when we swung the ball side to side, we got great shots," said CWU head coach Greg Sparling. "When we got up, we got a little content. We started taking the first open look instead of moving the basketball. But our guys stepped up at the end and won this thing."
Sophomore Terry Dawn said the first-half success could be attributed to the Wildcats extending run on the Seawolves.
"We kept getting stops and forcing them to take tough shots," he explained. "And we were rebounding and not allowing them to get many second chance opportunities. That was big for us."
Dawn scored eight points and grabbed five rebounds before fouling out in the second half. The 21 points of senior Dom Williams led CWU. Juniors Joey Roppo and Joseph Stroud added 11 apiece. Stroud also led the Cats with six rebounds and three blocked shots, while sophomore Marc Rodgers recorded six of CWU's 22 assists on the team's 26 made baskets.
Dom Hunter led UAA with 21 points and was instrumental in helping UAA fight back from a 38-22 deficit and go on a run to cut CWU lead to just two, at 46-44, with less than five minutes gone in the second half. But UAA never got any closer.
Sparling gave credit to his team's defense for that, as he Wildcats held the Seawolves to just 28-percent shooting from three-point range.
"When you have a team, like Anchorage, that shoots the three-ball extremely well and you hold them to seven for 25 in their own building, that's something special," he added.
Dawn concurred, and said, "It was a big win coming in and beat these guys in this environment."
With the victory, CWU moved into a second-place tie with Seattle Pacific and Northwest Nazarene in the GNAC men's basketball standing. The Faclons did not play Thursday, while the Crusaders won at the University of Alaska Fairbanks 75-73.
"I think this win will pay dividends for us down the road," he added. "The season is going to go down to the wire, so I think this win will pay dividends down the road," he added.
"Our goal, even before we got on the plane, is to win both games up here [in Alaska]," Sparling pointed out. "We're very capable of doing it. It's not something that a lot of teams have done in the past."
That would mean a second win Saturday at UAF, with tip off in the Patty Center scheduled for 8:30 p.m.
"The second night of the road swing, we'll have to use everybody." Sparling acknowledged. "Rebounding is going to be a big deal there."
Last year, CWU lost to the Nanooks in Fairbanks 84-80 in overtime.
Media contact: Robert Lowery, director of Public and Media Relations, 509-963-1487