Wildcats take on MSUB

Clayton Huber, Staff Reporter

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CWU men’s basketball will face Montana State University-Billings (MSUB) on Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. in Ellensburg. Both teams are 3-6 in conference play and are on two-game losing streaks.

CWU has the upper hand this season with a win against MSUB on Dec. 14 with a score of 80-75. Jawan Stepney and Niles Fuquan helped the team to victory by leading in scoring.

CWU preseason and out-of-league games are very positive with a 5-2 record. CWU is coming off of a double overtime win of 111-100 against Concordia University on Jan. 20 in Portland. CWU has 10 more season games left before conference playoffs.

“We have half the season left, so we need to continue to work and things will start going up,” Stepney said. “We have a great team, just need to put it all together.”

Stepney is second on the team in scoring with 12.6 points per game, trailing only Khalil Shabazz with 14.2 points per game. Stepney is first on the team in assists with 3.6 per game.

Stepney recently set a career high of 45 points in the win over Concordia, earning him GNAC Player of the Week for the week of Jan. 8-14.

Malik Montoya, a transfer student from Seattle University, has also made an impact on the Wildcats this year.

“This season has had its ups and downs. But this is easily my favorite season in college basketball so far with just having fun and enjoying the time I have out there,” Montoya said.

Montoya had a season high in scoring against Alaska University on Jan. 13 with 18 points. He followed up the next game with 10 points.

Montoya is second on the team in steals, averaging 1.3 per game, trailing only Shabazz, who averages 2.4 steals per game.  Montoya is eighth in the GNAC in steals per game and second in three-point shooting percentage, shooting at 0.511 percent.

He is led only by senior Kendall Denham who is shooting 0.424 percent and ranked 16th in the GNAC.

MSUB is fifth in the GNAC in scoring and averages 79.2 points per game. CWU is fourth in the GNAC, scoring an average of 79.9 points per game.  

“We beat MSU the first time we played them this year at their place. They are one of the top three-point shooting teams in the nation, so we will focus on defending the three point line,” assistant coach Drew Harris said.

MSU is shooting 0.396 percent from the three-point line and is top 40 in the nation. This season, CWU has been taken over by injuries. Junior Drake Rademacher and senior Marc Rodgers was injured during the early part of the season and will be missing the remainder of the year.

“We don’t have a lot of key players after some major injuries,” Harris said. “We’ve lost numerous close games that I think we would have won with a full team, or even one of the injured players that have been out,” Harris said.

Harris also stated that Shabazz injured his ankle in their game against Western Oregon on Jan. 18 but was back in action during Jan. 22 versus NNU.

Shabazz has been the team’s leading scorer since coming into the starting lineup following the injury to Rodgers.

 

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Wildcats take on MSUB