Men’s basketball back home to host SMU, WOU

Photo by Paul McCarthy

Jamie Foland

Following a Great Northwest Athletic Conference road sweep last week, the Alaska men’s basketball team returns home to host Saint Martin’s and Western Oregon at the Patty Center.

The Nanooks (8-4, 3-1 GNAC), who have won four straight, will first entertain the Saints (5-6, 1-2 GNAC) on Thursday before welcoming in the Wolves (7-4, 2-1 GNAC) to town on Saturday. Both games are set for 7 p.m. starts.

Thursday will mark head coach Mick Durham’s 500th career game as a head coach at the NCAA level. Now in his 18th overall year, Durham has compiled a 259-240 (.519) record.

Alaska produced its first conference road sweep in six years after defeating Central Washington 82-75, marking just the third time in 24 tries the Nanooks won at Nicholson Pavilion, and later cruised to a 74-55 victory at Northwest Nazarene a couple nights later in Nampa, Idaho.

Junior guard Pat Voeut was named GNAC Co-Player of the Week on Monday after he averaged 15.5 points, 4.0 assists and 3.0 steals in the two wins. In Thursday’s victory at Central, Voeut scored a career-high 25 points on 10 of 13 shooting. It was the second time this year the Bellingham, Wash., native was awarded the league accolade.

Other key contributors included senior guard Dominique Brinson, junior guard Ronnie Baker and junior forward Sergej Pucar. Brinson led the team with 16.5 points per game and made four three-pointers while sinking 11 of 13 free throws. Baker accrued 10.0 points while Pucar added 9.5 points and 11.5 rebounds. As a team, the Nanooks gave up only two three pointers as CWU and NNU combined to shoot 9.1 percent (2-22) from beyond the arc.

In the GNAC, Brinson is ninth with 13.8 points while Voeut is not far back in 13th with 13.4 points per game. Pucar continues to lead the league in rebounding with 8.8 boards per game while Voeut is tied for first with 5.3 assists per outing. Andrew Kelly is fourth in shooting percentage (.611 FG) while also ranking tied for 13th with 6.2 boards per game. Brinson is the league’s second-leading free throw shooter (.902) while Voeut is up to eighth (.829) in the same category.

The Nanooks average 77.3 points per game while limiting the opposition to 69.8 points per game. Alaska is third in assists (17.9 apg) and rebounding margin (+7.3 rpg) while also placing fourth in field goal percentage defense (.418 FG) and scoring margin (+7.6 ppg).

Game 13: Alaska vs. Saint Martin’s – Jan. 10 at 7 p.m. (AKST)
Saint Martin’s comes to town with a 5-6 overall record and 1-2 mark in GNAC play. SMU is coming off a 71-59 home victory against travel partner Western Oregon last Saturday.Roger O’Neill poured in a career-high 24 points on nine of 15 shooting as he shared the Player of the Week honor with Voeut.

The Saints average a league-low 68.4 points per game but rank second defensively, allowing 66.2 points per outing. They are second in three-point percentage (.413) and average a third-best 4.1 blocks per contest.

O’Neill is sixth in the GNAC with 15.4 points per game while two others average double figures. Rei Jensen is third in rebounding (7.7 rpg) while Matt Dodson is tied for sixth in the same category (7.0 rpg). Brady Bomber is the leading assister and is fourth in the conference with 4.5 dimes per game. He is also tied for third in steals (2.0 spg) and seventh in three-point shooting (.486). O’Neill and Evan Coulter also shoot better than 40 percent from three.

Last season, Alaska and SMU split the season series with both teams winning on its home courts. The Nanooks have won the last three at home against the Saints but Saint Martin’s has taken seven of the last 10 meetings.

Game 14: Alaska vs. Western Oregon – Jan. 12 at 7 p.m. (AKST)
Western Oregon enters its Thursday match-up at Alaska Anchorage with a 7-4 record on the year and 2-1 mark in conference play. Last Saturday, WOU fell to travel partner Saint Martin’s, 71-59, in Lacey Wash. Devon Alexander was the lone player in double figures for the Wolves with 19 points.

The Wolves average 78.5 points per game but rank ninth defensively as it allows 78.1 to their foes on average. WOU is second in free throw percentage (.732 FT) and third in three-point percentage defense (.317 3PT) while ranking fourth in steals (8.5 spg).

Andy Avgi is the GNAC’s second leading scorer with 19.3 points per game while Alexander is in the top 20 with 12.4 per outing. Avgi also leads the conference in field goal percentage (.634 FG) and Alexander is tops in steals (2.8 spg) per game and fourth from the free throw line (.880 FT).

A year ago, Western Oregon swept Alaska with an 80-67 win in Monmouth and a 60-42 victory in Fairbanks. The Wolves have won four straight in the series and have not lost at the Patty Center since Feb. 3, 2007.