Men’s B-ball shoots for top spot

Scoring+the+basketball+has+not+been+an+issue+for+the+Wildcats+averaging+89.5+points+per+game+during+their+9-3+overall+start.+
Scoring the basketball has not been an issue for the Wildcats averaging 89.5 points per game during their 9-3 overall start.

Scoring the basketball has not been an issue for the Wildcats averaging 89.5 points per game during their 9-3 overall start.

Jack Lambert

Jack Lambert

Scoring the basketball has not been an issue for the Wildcats averaging 89.5 points per game during their 9-3 overall start.

Mitchell Johnson, Sports Editor

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After six GNAC games, the CWU men’s basketball team is tied for second place in a cluttered race for the top team in the conference.

The Wildcats (4-2 GNAC, 9-3 overall) are tied with Alaska Anchorage (UAA), Montana State Billings and Western Oregon (WOU). With Western Washington sitting atop of the GNAC with a 5-1 record.

“It’s difficult, you have to be ready to play against everybody,” junior center Fuquan Niles said. “[People] think because it’s the Northwest… it’s not tough, but there’s a lot of good teams in our conference.”

The Wildcats success has come from their high scoring offense where they are second in the GNAC at 89.5 points per game. The UAA transfer senior guard Dom Hunter leads the CWU averaging 26 points per game.

“It’s just coming to me,” Hunter said. “I let the ballgame come to me naturally.”

With Hunter’s experience in the GNAC before and his success with CWU this year, teams have made adjustments.

“Dom’s figured out that he’s getting double, triple teamed now,” head coach Greg Sparling said. “He’s giving up the ball and other guys are starting to score.”

Sophomore guard Naim Ladd also has 15.2 points per game.

Sparling said that Hunter and Ladd get the most attention by opposing defenses.

Junior guard Jawan Stepney is the final Wildcat in double-figures scoring-wise with 11.7 points per game.

Sparling said they have the depth for any player to have a big scoring night.

“We know how to put it in the basket … Naim Ladd, Fuquan Niles and Juwan Stepney, those guys can light it up in any given night … It’s amazing to have a team like this score that many points,” Hunter said.

Running a high intensity offense leads to many chances on the other end for their opponent.

CWU is second worst in scoring defense, averaging 84.1 points per game.

“If you put up that many points on the board you’ll give up some easy ones, we’re a fast paced team,” Sparling said.

Hunter said that their biggest defensive adjustments are ball pressure and help defense.

“Our help defense is key,” Hunter said. “We’ll get beat off the ball and there’s no help. I feel like in college basketball, that’s key.”

Niles leads the CWU interior averaging six rebounds per game and 3.3 blocks per game. For the 6-foot-11 “big guy” he takes the lead on defense.

“It starts with me, I like to reinforce inside,” Niles said.

The Wildcats two GNAC losses have came from other 4-2 teams with a 98-92 loss to UAA and 98-77 defeat to WOU.

CWU is currently on a three game winning streak with two straight home games against Seattle Pacific (3-3 GNAC, 7-7 overall) and Saint Martin’s (3-3 GNAC, 3-3 overall).

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Men’s B-ball shoots for top spot