Hopes for second in the GNAC slip away, Wildcats iced by Nanooks

Senior forward Joseph Stroud shows frustration during the Wildcats' 21-point loss.

Senior forward Joseph Stroud shows frustration during the Wildcats' 21-point loss.

Brittany Allen

Brittany Allen

Senior forward Joseph Stroud shows frustration during the Wildcats' 21-point loss.

Ryan Kinker, Staff Reporter

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As time expired in Nicholson Pavilion, the fervor that had existed from the fans at pregame had become a dreary silence. Central (17-7, 12-7 GNAC) lost to University of Alaska (20-7, 14-5 GNAC) 92-71 on Thursday night, in a game that UA outplayed CWU in every aspect of the game.

This loss was the second worst of this season for the Wildcats, one that head coach Greg Sparling attributes to getting beat in the paint.

“We got out hustled and out muscled, no ifs, ands or buts about it,” Sparling said. “They’re big guys kicked our big guys’ tails, their guards kicked our guards’ tails.”

UA had 52 points in the paint compared to Central’s 22. UA also won the rebound battle 47-24, 14 of which came as offensive rebounds which contributed to 20 second chance points.

“I don’t know if we got content because we made the GNAC tournament,” Sparling said. “At the end of the day, they beat us on every hustle play and every 50-50 ball. It’s disappointing, especially with a nice crowd out there. It’s hard to swallow.”

Travante Williams, senior forward for UA, was the leading rebounder and a leading scorer of the game, with 11 rebounds to go along with 19 points, who along with senior center Almir Hadzisehovic (14 points, six rebounds) and junior  forward Bangaly Kaba (19 points, nine rebounds) combined to out-board the entire Wildcat team.

“Our biggest problem was rebounding, I give credit to [Hadzisehovic], he’s good at tipping it in and keeping the ball alive,” junior guard Terry Dawn said. “We got outworked.”

Dawn had a very efficient first half, going four of five from 3-point range, and ended up with 15 points on the night.

“My teammates just found me,” Dawn said. “It was nice because a lot of guys were leaving me open and all my shots, for the most part, came from the same spot. It was easy to get into a rhythm.”

While Dawn and senior guard Gary Jacobs (17 points, six assists) combined to go 8 of 13 from 3-point range, a lack of defense by the Wildcats allowed UA to answered back with many quick threes of their own.

The 3-point shot played a heavy role in the first half, with Central connecting on nine threes and UA hitting five. UA didn’t hit as many threes in the game as Central, they were able to get rebounds and extend possessions.

Central never held a lead in the game and was only able to cut the lead to nine with 17 minutes left in the second half on a slam dunk by Jacobs, who injured his left leg on the play. Jacobs returned to the game with nine minutes remaining, and after the game explained the injury was nothing serious.

“I got a cramp, it’s still tight. But I’ll get treatment, and get ready for Saturday,” Jacobs said.

While Jacobs sat, redshirt freshman guard Naim Ladd (seven points, three rebounds) and junior forward Chris-Michael Garret (eight points, two rebounds, two assists) attempted to keep the Wildcats afloat. They combined for ten points in Jacobs’ absence. Unfortunately, the Wildcats simply could not stop UA’s offense from scoring, as the Nanooks doubled their lead in the last ten minutes of play.

Central will play their last regular season game at home Saturday against University of Alaska Anchorage (21-9, 14-5 GNAC), who won the teams previous matchup 93-65 on Dec. 5 in Anchorage. It will be senior night for the Wildcats as they play the back half of a doubleheader that features the women’s team at 5 p.m. and the men’s at 7:30 p.m.

“We’ve got a tough Anchorage team coming in, and we’ll go home, watch film,” Sparling said. “We’ll meet in the morning and come out and move forward.”

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Hopes for second in the GNAC slip away, Wildcats iced by Nanooks