Hooooo boy, today was everything we wanted and more in terms of great play, great games, and a great place to watch the tournament.
We were hesitant about SPU hosting it because of the parking situation, but at least today the parking was fine -not sure how COVID19 is affecting things attendance-wise, but for midday games on a Thursday, they felt pretty well attended? It seemed like each school had about 50 or so people in attendance, so some good noise was made. The games were intense and amazing and so… Let’s talk about them.
#6 UAF 91 @ #3 WOU 88
HOLY OH GEE OH MY. WOU was up 15 at the half, but the general buzz in the gym was that this is the GNAC and UAF has Shadeed Shabazz and so 15? Please. Turns out everyone was right, because UAF made great halftime adjustments and then it was back and forth the whole way. Absolutely amazing. Ridiculously fun game. We had a fun time watching the SPU guys watch the game -it’s the opposite side of the bracket, and so they didn’t really have a horse in the race and yet they were into it big time. Super fun.
Nook highlights: SHADEED SHABAZZ had a whopping 42 points along with five assists and five fouls; Spencer Sweet had a full house; KOBY HUERTA was everywhere and had 18 points on good shooting; and Mawich Kachjaani had 10 boards. Off the bench Keshaun Howard had six points; and Alex Sommerfield had 10 points.
Wolf highlights: Cameron Cranston had 17 points; Dalven Brushier had 21 points; Darius Lubom had 24 points and five boards; and off the bench Emanuel Gant had 16 poing, eight boards, seven assists, six steals, and three blocks among quite the impressive full house.
Yes, the defense was lacking overall, but… Ridiculously fun game to watch. There was a weird technical called on Shadeed that amazingly neither fanbase thought was necessary and it looks like it ultimately was rescinded post-game? Overall the reffing wasn’t as atrocious as we’ve often seen. Great game by both teams, big congrats to the Wolves on an intense and better-than-expected season, and congrats to the Nooks on living to see another day. Good luck against WWU.
#5 UAA 85 @ #4 NNU 76
Is it really a true upset when the #5 team upsets the #4? Maybe in this case, considering WWU/NNU/WOU were all essentially tied, with Anchorage one step below and yet Anchorage got the upset, so that’s impressive? Good for Anchorage. NNU has some ridiculously good players, but unfortunately they didn’t schedule their non-con to be a bubble team, and as such with this first round loss, their season is over.
Seawolf highlights: Niko Bevens had 12 points; Tyrus Hosley had 15 points and five boards; Jack Macdonald had 11 points and five boards; and Oggie Pantovic was held to 12 points and only 20 minutes played via foul trouble. Off the bench DeAndre Osuigwe had nine points; and Tyler Brimhall had 17 points.
Nighthawk highlights: Sam Roth had seven boards; Beto Diaz had 10 points; George Reidy had a good game with 17 points; Jayden Bezzant had five fouls; Spider Adetunji had 10 points and 11 boards among a full house of stats; and off the bench Jaylen Fox had 12 points.
It’s funny. This is another one of those games where we look at the stats and go “How did NNU lose?” and yet they did. It’s a head scratcher. They started off slow, caught on fire throughout January and most of February, and then in their last three games were insanely competitive and yet couldn’t get it done against a wide range of conference teams. There’s something almost poetic in losing to the #1 team, the #5 team, and the #11 team. Still -congrats to the NNU seniors on a heck of ride, and congrats to the Seawolves on getting the upset; good luck against SPU.
Today’s games were so insane we still feel mildly dazed, it’s so weird that we’re finally entering post-season play after a conference season that seemed to last forever in the best way possible. Because all of the GNAC teams were so well matched, the beginning of February felt like the end of February and every week would ramp up to a new level of intensity you didn’t know was possible, and then yup: The first day of the conference tournament took it up yet another notch that no one knew existed. So insane. So much fun.
It came up a couple of times that the Alaska schools are on opposite sides of the bracket and thus we could have an all-Alaska final. Obviously there are miles to go before that happens, but… It is a possibility, which is cool.
We had a blast at the first day of the conference tournament, SPU is doing a great job and has taken great steps in terms of making hand washing more easily accessible in light of COVID19, so… 10/10 Day One Logistics, Birdies.
Game previews’ll be up in the AM.
Be safe, have fun, go GNAC!