Nanooks exterminate Yellowjackets
Senior guard Brandon Davis scored 22 points and recorded four steals and senior forward Zach Pederson posted a double-double in the Nanooks’ gritty win against Montana State 83-74 Thursday, Feb. 10 at the Alaska Airlines court.
“I’m really proud of the guys, especially with this being the fourth and final game in an eight-day stretch,” Head Coach Mick Durham, said following the game. “Winning three out of four at home against, what I think is the top-four teams in the league is big. We played good defensively, rebounded much better tonight and got to the free-throw line.”
The Nanooks (12-13, 7-9 GNAC) came into this bout fresh off a tough loss to arch-rival and no. 1 team in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, Alaska Anchorage. The Montana State Billings (13-10, 8-7 GNAC) were coming into the game off an impressive win against Central Washington.
The game was close in the first half as the two teams exchanged baskets and physical play. Not one team could get the edge on the other. Despite the poor shooting from the Nanooks in the first half, they went into halftime down by 3 points.
In the second half, Davis was a problem for the Yellowjackets as he scored eleven points, brought down two rebounds and added three steals, and the Nanooks shot 55 percent from the field in the last half.
The Nooks also held the Yellowjackets to just 40 percent from the field in the last 20 minutes of the game, while forcing them to commit 8 turnovers and capitalizing on their miscues.
“Tonight was a huge game for Brandon,” Durham said. “Him and Bangaly Kaba are our two returning guys, so they are almost always at the top of the scouting report and he’s [Davis] getting a lot of attention.”
Another key contributor for the Nooks was forward Zach Pederson who recorded a double-double for the night, going 5 for 10 from the field to total 11 points and snagging 11 rebounds as well. Pederson contributed to the team’s assist total, dishing out three himself.
Davis and Pederson were two of the five Nanooks to score in double figures. Senior Guard Nahjee Matlock continued his hot scoring streak as he poured in 18 points and led the Nooks in assist with 6 dimes. Junior forward LaDonovan Wilder scored 13 points in the outing and Bangaly Kaba chipped in with 10 points and 1 block.
Free-throws proved to be the game-changer for the Nanooks, as they hit 22 of their 28 free throws they attempted for the night, (78.6 percent) converting 16 of 21 free-throws in just the second half.
Montana State Billings was led by sophomore forward Preston Beverly and senior guard Marc Matthews, who both posted 19 points against the Nanooks. Kendall Denham was the only other Yellowjacket to score double-digit figures against Alaska, recording 11 points.
The Nanooks Basketball team will be on the road for their next two games as they face Western Oregon University on Thursday, Feb. 16. They will then travel to Oregon to face Concordia University Saturday, Feb. 18.