Wildcats’ 16 point lead not enough to hold off NNU, fall 93-96

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Wildcats’ 16 point lead not enough to hold off NNU, fall 93-96

Dez Rodriguez, Assistant Sports Editor

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The CWU Men’s basketball team fell just short of upsetting Northwest Nazarene University, losing a tense contest 93-96 at Nicholson Pavilion Tuesday night.

Jeryn Lucas was named player of the game, shooting a perfect 8-8 from the field to start the half on his way to a game high 28 points. Marcus Austin provided a spark off the bench with 11 points in the first half and going 3-3 from behind the arc.

The Nighthawks opened with a 10-2 run two minutes into the game before CWU head coach Brandon Rinta made adjustments that allowed the Wildcats to respond with a huge 27-14 run. The run was highlighted by four straight threes, started by Lucas and finishing with Austin, putting the Wildcats ahead 29-24 with 11:51 remaining in the first half.

“We had great ball movement in the first half,” Rinta said. “Some guys were definitely hot, but I think that was a result of our defense and us moving the basketball.”

NNU’s Obi Megwa scored seven of his team’s first 12 points before picking up his second foul with 9:10 left in the first half. He would return with 4:06 remaining, but the Wildcats had already extended their lead to 57-41 by halftime.

“Starting the game off everybody was keyed in, offensively and defensively,” Lucas said.

The Wildcats struggled to find an offensive rhythm after the break, allowing the Nighthawks to go on a 15-6 run. A couple of highlight plays made by Matt Poquette, a baseline dunk and a converted and-one opportunity at the freethrow line, stopped the bleeding.

The teams battled back and forth before the Nighthawks went on an 8-0 run, closing the score to 76-74 with 8:09 left to play.

“There was a stretch there where we didn’t get great shots and weren’t getting stops,” Rinta said. “We have to do a better job at being able to keep the basketball in front of us.”

The hot shooting continued down the stretch for both teams, but key defensive stops allowed the Nighthawks to take a 95-92 lead in the closing seconds. A halfcourt shot as time expired by Gamaun Boykin just missed and allowed the current number two seed in the GNAC to escape with a win.

“We have to make sure that we don’t take our foot off of the gas pedal,” Austin said. “We got a little too comfortable in the second half so we just have to continue to stay aggressive.”

The Wildcats look to end their three game skid on Thursday, Jan. 31 on the road against Montana State University Billings.

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