Men’s basketball shoots way to GNAC semifinals with 87-73 win against MSUB

Photo by Dan Levine/GNAC
Photo by Dan Levine/GNAC

Jamie Foland

Fourth-seeded Alaska shot the lights out in the second half and had five players score in double figures en route to an 87-73 victory against fifth-seeded Montana State Billings in the quarterfinal round of the 2013 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Championship on Thursday night at Marcus Pavilion.

The Nanooks (16-11) advance to Friday’s second semifinal game against top-seeded Western Washington (26-1) while the Yellowjackets (16-13) end their season losing two straight games. Alaska and WWU’s game will be played at 7:30 p.m. Pacific and can be seen on GNAC TV while being heard on KFAR 660 AM. No. 2 Seattle Pacific (23-3) will play No. 6 Central Washington (15-12) at 5:15 p.m. in the first semifinal.

The ‘Nooks shot an impressive 58.2 percent (32-55) on the night, which including a stellar 66.7 percent (16-24) mark in the second half while the ‘Jackets were held to 44.8 percent (26-58) shooting. Alaska controlled the board 37-28 and outscored MSUB 48-24 in the paint and 43-9 off the bench.

Alaska’s shooting percentage was the second-highest field goal percentage in tournament history, trailing only Northwest Nazarene, which shot 58.5 percent in a Feb. 28, 2011, win at Western Washington.

Junior forward Stefan Tica (Belgrade, Serbia/Business administration) led five Nanooks in double figures with 17 points in just 18 minutes off the bench. Tica shot 5-of-7 and drained all three of his three-point attempts to give the higher seed its first post-season win in eight years.

Senior guard Dominique Brinson (Juneau, Alaska/Accounting) scored 13 points while cashing in on 7-of-9 free throws and both junior guard Ronnie Baker (Vallejo, Calif./Communication) and junior forward Andrew Kelly (Gilbert, Ariz./Justice) each contributed 11 points. Junior forward Dallen Bills (Inkom, Idaho/Psychology) provided 10 points while junior guard Pat Voeut (Bellingham, Wash./Communication) six points, a team-high six boards and eight assists.

With the score squared at 15-15 midway through the opening stanza, the Nanooks scored 10 of 12 over 2:26 to grab a 25-17 advantage with 7:20 left. The Yellowjackets cut it back to four with under four minutes remaining but Alaska answered back with an 8-0 to lead 35-23 with 1:37 to play and would take a 37-27 lead heading into the break.

Teams traded buckets for much of the early going of the second half but holding a 50-41 lead with 13 minutes to go, a MSUB turnover by Kalob Hatcher, coupled with a Voeut layup seconds later spared a 6-0 run in just over a minute that gave the Nanooks a 56-41 lead with 11:43 remaining. The ‘Jackets cut it back to 11 thrice until five in a row by Alaska gave it its largest lead of the ball game at 67-51 with 7:49 on the clock. MSU Billings never got the deficit to single digits again as Alaska led by as many as 17 twice down the stretch.

Jarrell Crayton led the way for MSUB after posting a double-double with game-highs of 23 points on 11-of-14 shooting and 13 rebounds, which ties the tournament single-game rebounding record. Omar McDade contributed 17 points and David Arnold scored all of his 16 in the second half.