Behind a game-high 25 points from junior guard Pat Voeut (Bellingham, Wash./Communication), the Alaska men’s basketball team won for just the third time ever at Central Washington, with an 82-75 Great Northwest Athletic Conference victory on Thursday night at Nicholson Pavilion.
The victory for the Nanooks (7-4, 2-1 GNAC) ended a 17-game losing streak in true road games and also marked the first time in seven tries that they won on Central’s home court.
“This team needed a big win and to get it on the road, it’s great for our confidence,” head coach Mick Durham said. “Our guys did a great job preparing and getting ready. If you’re going to keep your nose in the GNAC race, you have to win games on the road and we were able to get one tonight.”
Voeut finished with 25 points on 10 of 13 shooting to go with his four assists and two steals. Senior guard Dominique Brinson (Juneau, Alaska/Accounting) tallied 14 points and three dimes while junior forward Stefan Tica (Belgrade, Serbia/Business & Finance) had 11 points.
Alaska was dominant on the glass, with a 52-35 advantage in rebounding, including 17-9 on the offensive end. Junior forward Sergej Pucar (Belgrade, Serbia/Business administration) tied a career-high with 16 boards while junior forward Andrew Kelly (Gilbert, Ariz./Justice Studies, Law & Society) accounted for 10 rebounds, tying his season-best total.
“We needed our bench tonight,” Durham said. “Almost nine guys averaged double-figure minutes. I thought the biggest difference was our rebounding. It was very dominant. We had bigger size in Sergej and he got a ton of defensive rebounds.”
The Nanooks, who only trailed 1-0 on a technical free throw prior to the opening tip, shot 44 percent (31-70 FG) for the game while holding the Wildcats (7-4, 1-2 GNAC) to just shy of 40 percent (27-68 FG) for the night.
More impressively, Alaska, which allowed opponents to convert better than 40 percent on three-pointers thus far in 2012-13, limited Central to just one trey on 13 attempts (.077 3PT).
“It was great to get that done tonight,” Durham said. “We stayed on their shooters and we were solid defensively. That’s a team that averages 94 points a game, so to hold them under their average on their home floor was a big stat too.”
The Wildcats were paced by the GNAC’s scoring leader Mark McLaughlin, who tied Voeut for a game-best 25 points to go with his eight rebounds and five steals. Chris Holmescontributed 14 points while Jordan Coby and Derrick Davis had 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Leading 6-5 in the early going, Voeut sank a three-pointer and produced an old-fashioned three-point play that sparked a 9-2 run, giving the visitors a 15-7 advantage with 15:45 to go. Alaska stretched it to 13 at 26-13 past the halfway point of the half after scoring 11 of 14 in just 2:43.
The Wildcats stormed back, holding the Nanooks to a single point for over six minutes, as they tallied 14 of 15 to knot it up at 27 with four minutes remaining. Back-to-back treys by Tica and Brinson gave the Nanooks the lead back and they took a 37-33 advantage into the break.
CWU opened the second with a 7-3 run over 1:56 to square the contest at 40-40 but Alaska answered with a 12-2 surge in less than a four-minute span to take a 52-42 lead with 12:47 left in regulation. Trailing 54-44, the Wildcats scored 10 of 13 to trim the deficit to only 57-54 with over nine to play but the Nanooks got a couple buckets to keep the advantage at seven. The teams traded points virtually the rest of the way and the Nanooks’ lead never got below five down the home stretch.
Alaska now travels to Nampa, Idaho, where it will meet Northwest Nazarene on Saturday evening at 5:30 p.m. (AKST). Earlier on Thursday, the Crusaders (8-3, 2-1 GNAC) rallied from eight points down to upset 25th-ranked Alaska Anchorage 61-60 at the Johnson Sports Center.