Nanooks Open GNAC in Grueling Wins

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Aaron Walling / Sun Star

The Great Northwest Athletic Conference schedule opened and the Nanooks sprinted out of the gate with two impressive wins over Northwest Nazarene and Central Washington. Senior stars Almir Hadzisehovic and Travante Williams propelled the Nanooks men’s basketball team to their first 2-0 GNAC record since the 2004-2005 season.

In the first matchup, the Nanooks took on the Crusaders from Northwest Nazarene where they won 77-72 in an ugly game. The Crusaders outplayed the Nanooks in every statistical category, except for the win column. The Crusaders shot 47 percent over the Nanooks 36 percent, and beat out the Nanooks in terms of free throw percentage in favor of the Crusaders in 67 percent to the Nanooks 62 percent. However, the Nanooks relied on their 34 free throw attempts to push past the Crusaders. Travante Williams had a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds, while also having Almir Hadzisehovic contributed 17 points and nine rebounds.

“This is kind of what I envisioned with this game. Northwest Nazarene has a brand new coach, a lot of new players, and came in with a lot of confidence, and we had to fight to break their spirit, which I think we did over the final minutes,” Head Coach Mick Durham said. “We [didn’t play] offensively, but we kept grinding defensively and I thought we wore them down towards the end. We had a ton of offensive rebounds and effort plays in the second half. It wasn’t pretty, but we found a way to get it done.”

In the more impressive win, the Nanooks held on to their lead over the Wildcats from Central Washington holding off a furious rally in the second half of the game. The Nanooks beat out the Wildcats 82-7, behind Williams’ defensive abilities with four blocks and seven steals while dropping 19 points. The defense for the Nanooks continue to force turnovers with the Wildcats making 17 while the Nanooks only made eight turnovers.

“We had a great weekend,” Durham said. “To be up 22 at the half, you’d like to get it over with, but that rarely happens. It was good for us to learn how to play with a lead. The second half didn’t start out great. We had to fight through something, but we did a really nice job at building the lead back up over the final six minutes. We didn’t shoot the ball well all weekend, but we won both. We’ll take that and try to get better.”

The two GNAC wins have put the Nanooks into third in the standings with a 6-2 record overall. The Nanooks will face Northwest Indian College Dec. 11 at the Patty Center.

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