CWU vs MSUB_07

Central Washington University’s Jeryn Lucas (0) shoots a three pointer against Montana State University Billings’ Stevie James (20) earlier this season at Nicholson Pavilion.

FAIRBANKS, Alaska — Jeryn Lucas led the Central Washington University men’s basketball team with 25 points as the Wildcats (15-8, 8-7 GNAC) grabbed their fifth-straight victory with a 66-63 victory over the University of Alaska Fairbanks (10-13, 9-5 GNAC), according to a release from CWU Athletics..

“This is a tough place to win,” CWU Head Coach Brandon Rinta said. “Especially with how well Shabazz and Alaska are playing. Xavier (Smith) and Gamaun (Boykin) did a great job on Shabazz down the stretch. It is hard to hold him under 30 with the level he is shooting it. Jeryn (Lucas) came up big for the third-straight game. The team did a good job of getting him the ball. Kevin (Baker), Matt (Poquette), and Marqus (Gilson) did a tremendous job rebounding tonight. Marqus’ six offensive rebounds were clutch.”

Lucas scored 19 points in the first half and shot 70 percent during the opening stanza.

The Nanooks came out with a 6-0 start before Kevin Baker knocked down a shot from deep for the Wildcats’ first bucket of the game, cutting Alaska’s lead in half 6-3. Lucas brought Central within two a couple possessions later with a three of his own, 8-6.

Alaska once again reached a six-point lead, 12-6, but the Wildcats responded by rattling off a run 9-0 run before Shadeed Shabazz ended Alaska’s scoreless drought with a three. The Wildcats held a 16-15 advantage following the Nanooks’ trey.

At the halfway point of the opening period, Alaska reclaimed a slim 18-17 lead. Once again, they extended their edge to six points. Five straight points from Lucas was cause for concern for Alaska, as it cut their lead to 25-24. A quick jumper from Markel Banks pushed their lead to three, 27-24. The Nanooks and Wildcats exchanged points, until a trey from Gamaun Boykin with 3:00 left in the first gave Central a 31-29 edge.

A jumper from Baker on the Wildcats’ next possession made it a four-point lead, 33-29. With under a minute to play, Alaska had still not altered their side of the scoreboard since a jumper from Shabazz at 4:29, and Lucas added a trey for a 36-29 advantage. Banks managed to end the Nanooks’ drought with a jumper at the buzzer, but the Wildcats went into the locker room with a 36-31 lead.

Central shot 48.15 percent from the floor during the first half, including a 7-for-12 mark from beyond the arc. The ‘Cats bench recorded 29 points in the opening 20 minutes.

Momentum continued to seesaw when the second half began. The Wildcats’ lead was chipped away by Alaska, as they controlled the first four minutes of play. The Nanooks reclaimed a two-point lead, 41-39, on a jumper from Spencer Sweet as part of an 11-3 run.

Baker quickly erased the Nanooks’ advantage with a three, 42-41, but a jumper from Shabazz put Alaska back ahead. He added a free throw for a 44-42 lead, which was dealt with swiftly on a Micah Pollard jumper.

The Wildcats and Nanooks traded points once more through the midsection of the second half. The lead changed hands a pair of times, until Marqus Gilson drove inside and threw down a dunk for the 54-53 lead.

Gilson finished with nine points, while six of his 11 rebounds were offensive.

A pair of free throws from Xavier Smith extended Central’s lead to 56-53. With 6:14 to play, Lucas picked Shabazz’s pocket and found Boykin on the fast break to make it 58-53. A three from Koby Huerta cut the lead back to two, 58-56, but it wasn’t for long. A jumper from Smith edged the Wildcats’ to a four-point lead, before Gilson hauled in a rebound and scored for a 62-56 advantage.

Shabazz cut the Wildcats’ lead to two, 65-63, with a jumper and just 51 seconds left in the contest. On the ensuing possession for the Wildcats, Lucas hauled in an offensive rebound and allowed Central to nearly secure the victory.

Trailing 66-63, Alaska stormed back down the floor. Shabazz threw up a trey with eight seconds remaining, it ricocheted off the backboard and made its way to Huerta. As the Wildcat defenders closed in on him, Alaska called a timeout with 1.8 seconds remaining on the clock.

Alex Sommerfield’s last-second effort to level the game for Alaska came heavily contested by a Wildcat defender, as CWU secured the 66-63 victory.

Central Washington out rebounded Alaska 40-29, including 11-6 in offensive boards. The Wildcats scored 20 points in the paint and 12 points off turnovers. The reserves tallied 40 points. Shabazz led all scorers with 27 points.

The Wildcats are back on the hardwood on Saturday when they take on Alaska Anchorage at 8 p.m. The teams are currently tied for sixth place in the GNAC.

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