CSU survives epic championship game vs UCSB, 65-63

November 30th, 2014

Mark Hoffman, photos: Sam Zeller

The Colorado State Rams came to Alaska on a mission: to win the Great Alaska Shootout. And despite the best efforts of Alan Williams and the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos, the Rams mission was accomplished on Saturday night.

CSU escaped Alaska with a 65-63 victory in the first Great Alaska Shootout championship game, the first to be held on campus at the new Alaska Airlines Center. A rowdy and excited crowd was treated to an instant classic between the Rams and the Gauchos.

UCSB’s star center Alan Williams was as good as advertised as he followed up his 22 point, 20 rebound performance from last night with a monster 22 points, 12 boards and 4 blocks. Williams was chosen the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player in the losing effort.

In the first half, CSU center J.J. Avila went toe-to-toe with Williams and the big men each finished the half leading their team with 11 points. But in a shocking twist, Avila managed 4 quick fouls in the opening minutes of the second half and had to head to the bench with just over 12 minutes to go.

The rest of the Rams picked up the slack, however, and the game remained neck-and-neck up until the final minute. Facing a 63-60 deficit with 19 seconds to go, UCSB got the ball to John Green who buried a three to tie it up, much to the delight of the raucous crowd.

But, unfortunately for the Gauchos, Michael Bryson was whistled for a reaching foul on the ensuing play as CSU guard Gian Clavell dribbled wildly past the half court line. Clavell sank the free throws with 6 seconds remaining and a last-ditch three from Williams went long as time expired.

Stanton Kidd was one of five Rams in double figures, finishing with 14 points. Avila, Clavell, and John Gillon all had 13 and Daniel Bejarano added 10 for the 2014 Great Alaska Shootout champions.

Pacific defeats Mercer, 55-48, to take 3rd place in Shootout

November 29th, 2014

Mark Hoffman, photos: Sam Zeller

The Pacific Tigers earned a hard-fought 55-48 victory over the Mercer Bears to take 3rd place at the Great Alaska Shootout in Anchorage on Saturday night. Pacific finished the tournament 2-1 and improved to 4-3 on the season. The Bears finished the Shootout with 1-2 record and dropped to 3-4 on the season.

Pacific was led by guard T.J. Wallace, who finished with 11 points, including 3 buckets from behind the arc, and Jacob Lampkin came off the bench to score 9 points and grab 8 rebounds for the Tigers.

Both teams are grind-it-out defensive teams that like to keep the score low and that was evident from the jump in this one. Both teams started slow out of the gate and the rest of the game played out like a real slobberknocker.

Mercer was paced by starting guard Ike Nwamu who finished with 14 points and power forward T.J. Hallice had 11 points and 5 boards for the Bears. Mercer has struggled with a lack of bench depth throughout the tournament and today was the same old story for the Bears, as Pacific’s bench outscored Mercer’s 24-9.

WSU rallies for OT win over Missouri State, 89-84

November 29th, 2014

Mark Hoffman, photos: Sam Zeller

The Washington State Cougars rallied from a 14-point second half deficit against the Missouri State Bears to force overtime and DaVonte Lacey did the rest, leading the Cougs to a 89-84 victory at the Great Alaska Shootout on Friday afternoon.

Lacey scored a game-high 31 points, including 24 in the second half and extra frame, to pace the Cougars, who looked dead in the water after heading into halftime facing a 45-33 deficit. But Lacey’s offensive tenacity and WSU’s hot shooting turned the tables in the Cougars favor – the Cougars shot 68% from the field after shooting a paltry 35% in the first half.

Missouri State featured a balanced offensive attack, led by guard Marcus Marshall who finished with 18 points, including 4 threes. Big man Camyn Boone scored 19 points for the Bears and dynamic forward Loomis Gerring chipped in 18 for a Missouri State team that had 5 players in double-digits but only 2 points from the rest of their roster.

Missouri State actually led for nearly all of regulation but Washington State continued to chip away throughout the second half. The game came down to a 74-71 Bears lead with less than a minute remaining. Washington State moved the ball around the perimeter, landing eventually on WSU guard Que Jackson, who promptly buried a game-tying three-pointer from the left wing, much to the delight of the Wazzou faithful in attendance at the Alaska Airlines Center.

Washington State finishes in 4th place and improves to 3-3 on the season.  Missouri State finishes in 6th place and dropped to 3-3 on the season.


UAA upsets Rice, 65-54, to claim 7th place

November 29th, 2014

Mark Hoffman, photos: Sam Zeller

The UAA Seawolves upset the Rice Owls, 65-54, to take 7th place at the Great Alaska Shootout on Saturday afternoon. The loyal Seawolf fans who battled through the first real snowstorm of the year in Anchorage to make it to the game, were rewarded by the show that senior guard Travis Thompson put on for UAA.

The preseason GNAC player of the year scored a game-high 28 points on 9 of 14 shooting from the field, including a dazzling 6 of 9 from downtown. After falling behind as many as 12 in the first half, Thompson put the Seawolves on his back, hitting 4 threes while dropping 18 first half points, to cut the Rice lead to 35-32 at halftime.

Thompson continued his hot streak in the second half but the rest of the Seawolves joined in, especially on the defensive end. Rice big men Seth Gearhart and Andrew Drone played effectively in the post, scoring 12 and 15 points, respectively. But the UAA guards shut down the perimeter for the Owls guards and held Rice to zero fast break points.

Nicho Burgard contributed 11 points, including 3 threes, for the Seawolves and point guard Brian McGill captained the UAA offense to a near-triple double with 9 points, 8 rebounds, and 10 assists.

UAA takes 7th place at the Shootout and improves to 3-5 on the season. Rice finishes 8th and drops to 1-5 on the young season.

UCSB tops Mercer in OT thriller, 65-60

November 29th, 2014

Mercer-UCSB turn in Shootout classic in nightcap, Gauchos win 65-60 in OT
Mark Hoffman, photos: Sam Zeller

The crowd at the Alaska Airlines Center was treated to a thrilling nightcap in Friday’s Great Alaska Shootout semifinal, as the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos and Mercer Bears needed extra time to decide who would be facing Colorado State in tomorrow’s Shootout championship game.

The Gauchos would eventually prevail, 65-60, after withstanding the extra period against a worn out and depleted Bears squad. But the Gauchos would have missed out on their overtime chance all together, had it not been for the heroics of Michael Bryson at the end of regulation. Trailing by 3 with the final seconds ticking down, the UCSB guard buried a long three-pointer as time expired, sending the game into overtime and the Anchorage crowd into a frenzy.

Bryson scored 17 points in the game but it was double-double machine Alan Williams who anchored the Gauchos on both ends of the court. Williams finished the game with 22 points, 20 rebounds, and 6 blocks.

UCSB took a 25-20 advantage into halftime and, early in the second half with a 10-point lead, it felt like the Gauchos were in control. But an inexperienced Mercer team with a short bench showed great resilience and eventually flexed their offensive muscle.

Mercer guard Phillip Leonard had 17 points, 6 boards and 5 assists and forward T.J. Hallice scored 16 points, including big shots down the stretch to give the Bears the lead. But the real momentum swing came on multiple highlight dunks by Bears high-flyers Darious Moten and Ike Nwamu, much to the delight of more than 3,000 Anchorage fans in attendance.

Mercer would turn the tables and eventually held the lead late in the second half, setting the stage for Bryson’s heroics.

UCSB will play Colorado State in the Shootout Championship game on Saturday and Mercer will play Pacific in Saturday’s 3rd place game.

Rams never trail in 75-64 win over Tigers

November 28th, 2014

Rams never trail in 75-64 victory over Tigers
Mark Hoffman, photos: Sam Zeller

Colorado State point guard Daniel Bejerano opened the game with a long three and CSU never looked back as the Rams proved too much for the Pacific Tigers in a 75-64 victory on Friday night at the Great Alaska Shootout. Colorado State advances to Saturday night’s championship game where they will play the winner of tonight’s UC Santa Barbara-Mercer matchup. The Tigers will play the loser of the same contest in Saturday’s consolation round.

Colorado State dominated the semifinal game early on, jumping out to a 16-3 lead after 7 minutes of gameplay. The Rams showcased a well-balanced offense that features Bejarano, who finished with 14 points, and veteran big man J.J. Avila, who had 16 points and 6 rebounds. Stanton Kidd chipped in an important 13 points, 11 of which came in the first half, as the Rams built as much as an 18-point lead before the half.

The early defecit proved to be too much for the Tigers to handle but not for a lack of effort. Point guard Dulani Robinson finished with 26 points on 7-for-10 shooting from the arc and continued to battle even after the early setback. Robinson and guard Alec Kobre desperately nailed threes in the second half to keep the deficit in single digits but the Tigers could never quite make up the difference. Kobre finished with 14 points, including 4 threes.