Men’s basketball extends winning streak

Clayton Huber, Staff Reporter

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CWU Men’s Basketball extended their winning streak to three games after defeating Montana State University Billings (MSUB) 77-73 at home on Jan. 27. CWU improves to a 6-6 record in the GNAC while MSUB fell to 3-9, continuing their losing streak.

“Winning solves a lot of things. We still have a lot of room for improvement but at the end of the day they’re having a lot of fun and games are a lot cleaner when everyone is having fun,” head coach Greg Sparling said.

Freshman guard Khalil Shabazz started off the game with eight points, including two quick three-pointers and two steals to give CWU a 15-9 lead early in the first half.  Shabazz leads CWU in steals and is ranked third in the GNAC, averaging 2.2 per game.

Midway through the first half, CWU led MSUB 20-11. MSUB attempted 10 three-point shots within the first 10 minutes of the game, hitting just one of those. CWU, on the other hand was 3-5 from the three-point line.

MSUB is currently second in the GNAC shooting, .394 from the three-point line.

“They [MSUB] shoot the lights out. They’re a good shooting team and our coaches did a good job preparing us for that,” senior guard Jawan Stepney said.

Stepney recorded 15 points and four assists in the game and played for 33 minutes.

CWU stretched to a nine-point lead early and was able to hold onto it for 15 minutes. With just a few minutes left in the first half, MSUB came back and tied the game before taking a 33-31 lead going into halftime.

The Yellowjackets held CWU just 11 points in the final 10 minutes of the first half.  

“It was rough at first. We were letting them get easy buckets, but in the end we all came together as a team and got the win,” Shabazz said.

The second half started off slow, with both teams missing shots and turning the ball over. Shabazz heated things up by hitting his next three shots, including one three-pointer, which gave CWU the lead again.

After that, CWU had back-to-back dunks on fast break in the early minutes of the second half by Fuquan Niles and Jawan Stepney, bringing the Nicholson Pavilion crowd to their feet.

MSUB continued to struggle shooting three-pointers early in the second half, shooting just 2-21 in the game. CWU shot 5-10.

“We basically just try to run them off the three-point line and make them have to get to the hole and use the backboard,” Shabazz said.

Throughout the second half the game was neck and neck, with both teams trading off baskets and MSUB down just a few points trying to get back in the game

With one minute left, CWU led 74-70. MSUB continued to battle to get the game tied but CWU kept the distance. MSUB hit a three point shot, bringing the score to 74-73.

On the next Wildcat possession, Jawan Stepney shut the door on MSUB, hitting a contested three-point shot with three seconds on the clock and ending the game with a score of 77-73.

Khalil Shabazz finished with 20 points and six assists in the victory as the Wildcats extended their winning streak to three games.

Shabazz, not dwelling on the win, left the court with the following message: “We ain’t satisfied yet. We have to keep going.”

 

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Men’s basketball extends winning streak