Matlock propels Nanooks, women’s basketball plummets
Nahjee Matlock scored a career-high 36 points while dishing out five assist as the Alaska Nanooks Men’s Basketball Team upset the Western Washington Vikings 94-88 at the Alaska Airlines court Saturday.
The Vikings came into the game atop of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and ranked 13th in the nation for division two. Alaska entered the game riding a two-game winning streak, looking to claw their way back into conference tournament discussions. With the win, the Nanooks move up to seventh in the conference, one spot behind the last bid for the GNAC tournament.
“We kind of kept our heads,” Head Coach Mike Durham said after the win. “A lot of possessions we did good things on—we just finally got a stop at the end.”
Western Washington started off the game with a 15-4 run, going 5-5 from the three point land before Alaska railed off a 9-0 run towards the end of first to make it 34-27. It was a seesaw affair as the teams went to halftime tied 37-37.
The Vikings came out strong for the second half playing hard defense and at one point holding a ten point lead. That wouldn’t last for long.
The Nanooks stayed tough behind the play of senior guard Matlock, who did most of his damage in the second half as he went 7 for 12 from the field, 3 of 4 from downtown and 8 for 8 from the charity strike totaling 25 points.
Matlock seemed to come up big for his team when they needed it in the last half, whether it was an extra pass, hard defense or timely shots off the solid screens set for him by his teammates.
When asked about his performance Matlock responded, “It feels really good, it’s momentarily but I’m just happy that we carried three games over. I really want to beat the top teams and let them know we are going to the playoffs. It’s not over for our senior year.”
Matlock’s teammates helped him out in clutch moments. Zach Pederson hit a clutch three with 1:55 left in the second half to take the lead by 2 and push the momentum on their side.
“That was definitely the best feeling I’ve had all season when I hit a shot,” Pederson said.
The rest of the starters scored in double-digits along with Matlock. Senior forward Zach Pederson played a solid game adding 16 points and senior guard Brandon Davis had an all-around game scoring 13 points, bringing down 10 rebounds and collecting 4 steals. Senior forward Bangaly Kaba and junior forward LaDonavan Wilder scored 10 points each.
Western Washington senior guard Taylor Stafford led his team in scoring with 31 points and grabbed 6 boards. Redshirt freshman Daulton Hommes added 18 points and 2 blocks. Senior forward Jeffery Parker contributed as well with 12 points.
“It’s exciting, our guys are excited this is obviously our biggest win of the season and it’s great to do it here at home,” Durham said.
The Nanooks’ win puts them at 11-12, 6-8 in the GNAC, while the Vikings’ record is now 17-5, 11-3 in the GNAC.
The Nanooks will host their next game against state rivals Anchorage Seawolves on Tuesday, Feb. 7 at the Alaska Airlines court.
A strong second half from the Women’s Basketball Team wasn’t enough as they lost in a close game against the Concordia Cavaliers on Saturday.
The Alaska women’s basketball team got off to a slow start as they struggled in the first half against the Cavaliers, who came into the game on a three-game losing streak.
The Nanooks had an abysmal first half as they shot 28.1 percent from the field, 14.3 percent from the three and 50 percent from the free-throw line. It was tough sledding for the lady Nooks as they couldn’t seem to find a basket and went into halftime trailing by 16 points.
“Just being ready to play,” Head Coach Cody Bench said following Saturday’s tough loss. “You can’t just not have a good first half in this league, you can’t.
Senior forward Jordan Wilson scored 15 points, shooting 6 of 13 from the field and 3 of 4 from the free-throw line. She rounded out her stat line by bringing down 6 rebounds and dishing out three assist.
Fellow senior forward Kailee Skjold was the only other Nanooks that scored in the double-digits with 14 points, but she struggled from the field shooting 6 for 23. She also pulled down a team-high 9 rebounds and recorded 3 steals.
Senior guards Victoria Milton and Gabriella Jimenez each had 4 assist apiece, while freshman Lexi Carpenter contributed with a season-high six steals.
Danielle Hartzog led the Cavaliers with 16 points, going 5 for 11 from the field. Bailey Cartwright was the Cavaliers second leading scorer with 13 points and Jordyn Peacock had 11 rebounds.
The Cavaliers leave the game at 8-14, 5-9 in the GNAC, while the Nanooks record stands at 11-10, 7-7 in the GNAC. The Alaska women’s basketball team will be on the road for their next two games as they travel to take on the Central Washington wildcats on Feb. 9 before traveling to face Northwest Nazarene Feb.11.