Down goes #1!
Aaron Walling / Sun Star
The Alaska Nanooks pulled off the upset of the year by beating the number one team in the nation, Western Oregon, for a 87-78 victory in front of 611 fans who filled the Patty Center. The men’s team came to play as they shut down Andy Avgi, one of the top players in the GNAC, who couldn’t lead the Wolves past the Nanooks’ ferocious firepower. The Nanooks were led by the senior leadership of Travante Williams who scored 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
The Nanooks got the upset, and with their convincing win over Concordia where they scored 92-69, this sets up the Nanooks with a chance for the number two seed in the GNAC tournament. These past two games were very important for this team who went 7-19 last season in what was a lost season because of the NCAA violations.
For Head Coach Mick Durham, seeing his team coming against the number one Wolves, he knew they were under the radar. But going into the match, he told them that they can not be under the radar anymore, it was their time to shine.
“I kind of felt it slipping late, but we seemed to make big shot after big shot,” Durham said after the game. “We hit our free throws, got a couple of stops late with our zone, and we finished it off. We started the game great, we fought them off in the second half, and found a way to hit some big shots late.”
Big shots did go down, but it wasn’t just Travante Williams making big shots. Former walk-on Brandon Davis made huge shots in front of the home crowd, dropping 18 points and making three three-pointers.
The more impressive game was the Nanooks dismantling the Cavaliers of Concordia with a magic show winning 92-69. This included the Nanooks getting 19 assists and 10 steals as a team. This win also gave Durham his most wins in a season as the coach of the Nanooks and, with it being senior night, it was even better.
“It’s a group that just keeps competing,” Durham said of his seniors. “I’ve been through a few senior days and it’s an emotional time for everyone. We wanted to make it a special day by getting a win. When you get the win on senior day, you’ll remember it a lot fonder than if you lose.”
They came together to put on their best performance of the season in front of the great Bob Ryan from the Boston Globe and the Nanooks didn’t disappoint.
“We finally got it going,” Durham said regarding the second half run. “We had great contributions from Neal Chavez and Alex Duncan during the run. It was huge. We got a little confidence, they lost a little bit of willpower and started missing shots. That’s what occurs during those runs, and we’ve had the capability to go on those types of spurts throughout the season, and it came up big today.”
The Nanooks now go into the final week of the GNAC looking to take the number two seed over Alaska Anchorage in what will be a race to the finish.