Wildcats take first loss to Sparling

Della Babcock, Staff Reporter

The CWU men’s basketball team fought hard against the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Saturday night. Ultimately, CWU fell to UAF by a final score of 78-60. The game was full of ups and downs which kept the team itself and all of the CWU fans on the edge of their seats. The stands on the CWU side were overflowing with students and the band was roaring. The crowd seemed as if they were still feeding off of the big win last Thursday, Jan. 16 against Alaska Anchorage. However, the momentum on the court differed from the team’s previous game substantially, resulting in the Wildcats’ heads hanging low at the end result. 

“It’s tough to go from playing as well as we did on Thursday, to go and playing like that,” head coach Brandon Rinta said. “We talked about the things that separate the teams in this conference, and it’s consistency.”  

The game also featured the return of head coach Greg Sparling back to Ellensburg. Sparling coached the CWU men’s basketball team for many seasons before the transition to UAF after the 2017-18 season. 

The team struggled to find consistency on the court, which brought forth a tough loss. Rinta gave credit to Fairbanks for the effort they put out on the court, and for how hard they came out and played. CWU struggled to find the level of energy that they needed to keep up with Fairbanks.

“Fairbanks is a good team, I give them credit. [Shadeed] Shabazz is a tough guard and they have pieces around him that complement him well,” Rinta said. “We had been taking steps for three games in a row and just didn’t have that level of energy tonight.” 

Paneal Holland

CWU will try to find a way to shut down UAF when they match up against them once more on Feb. 13. However, even though there was a lull in energy against UAF, Rinta said the team still has room to grow. 

“This group has been resilient so far,” Rinta said. “They’ve proven they can learn and stay positive.” 

Even though the team struggled, some players on the court had their moments of success. The team was able to get the ball into Davon Bolton’s hands a few times throughout the game which prevailed in him being able to get 10 points up on the board. Xavier Smith also had a big presence on the court, putting up 10 points as well for the team. 

CWU is preparing and resetting their minds to get ready for their journey on the road this week to match up against Concordia University on Thursday, Jan. 23 and Western Oregon University on Saturday, Jan. 25.