Saturday was a day of good and bad regarding men’s basketball around the Western Athletic Conference.
There was the news out of Albuquerque that we won’t get into in this write-up. And that news set a bit of a cloud over the day.
But, there were also three other games that were played. And all three games were true road games. As we all know, road games will hold a little more weight in terms of the WAC Vegas seeding system.
SFA was looking for a bounce back win after an embarrassing home loss earlier in the week. Utah Tech was looking to start its Thanksgiving break off on the right foot. And Seattle was looking to put the WAC on notice that the defending regular season co-champs are still alive and well.
Utah Tech 81, Idaho 71
It was a homecoming of sorts for Utah Tech big man Tanner Christensen. The 6-10 sophomore played for the Idaho Vandals in 2021-22 before transferring to Utah Tech. And the homecoming couldn’t have gone any better.
Cam Gooden had a game-high 25 points to lead Utah Tech to a wire-to-wire win over the Vandals on Saturday afternoon.
Christensen finished with 10 points and eight rebounds in his return to Moscow. Isaiah Pope chipped in 11 points off the bench. Jacob Nicolds and Noa Gonsalves were both also in double figures with 10 points apiece.
Idaho opened the game with a 5-2 lead. But, that would be the last lead the Vandals would have. Noa Gonsalves knocked down a 3-pointer to start a 13-0 run and the Trailblazers never looked back.
Gooden had his best game of the young season. The senior guard was 8-10 from the field, 3-5 from 3-point range and 8-10 from the charity stripe all while playing 38 minutes.
The Trailblazers improve to 2-3 and will travel to Grand Forks, North Dakota for the North Dakota MTE. Utah Tech will face North Dakota on Friday and Cal State Fullerton on Saturday.
— Utah Tech Men's Basketball (@UtahTechMBB) November 19, 2022
Stephen F. Austin 93, South Dakota State 82
Tuesday night in Nacogdoches was not a good night. Alcorn State gave SFA a taste of its own medicine at Johnson Coliseum. The Braves were more physical and put more pressure on the Jacks defensively. And in his post game remarks, SFA head coach Kyle Keller made note of that. Keller also made note that he would not allow that to happen again.
Well, bouncing back on the road after a tough home loss is not always easy. Especially in a place where the home squad has won 72 of its last 74 home games.
But, Nigel Hawkins had a career-high 25 points, three other Jacks were in double figures, and SFA put on an offensive clinic in a 93-82 win at South Dakota State on Saturday evening.
Day Day Hall had 14 points off the bench. And Jaylin Jackson-Posey and Latrell Jossell each pitched in 12 points.
The Jacks shot 56 percent from the field and 81 percent from the free throw line. What’s more impressive about the win is the fact SFA hit just five 3-pointers.
Zeke Mayo’s and-1 conversion with 9:22 to play gave South Dakota State a 63-62 lead. It was the only time in the second half the Jackrabbits led. AJ Cajuste gave the Jacks the lead right back on the next possession. And SFA left Brookings with an impressive road win.
SFA improves to 3-1 overall and will travel to Montreal this week to play in the Montreal Northern Classic. The Jacks will play Quinnipiac, Middle Tennessee, and UNC Greensboro.
Highlights | @SFA_MBB Vs. South Dakota State
📍 | SFA snaps SDSU's 17 home win streak
📍 | 93-82 Victory
🔑 | Nigel Hawkins finished with a new career-high 25 points
🔑 | Sadaidriene Hall finished with 14 points and 7 rebounds#AxeEm x #RaiseTheAxe x #PressU pic.twitter.com/VhkO7HDwxJ
— SFA Athletics (@SFA_Athletics) November 20, 2022
Seattle U 80, Portland 68
How sweep it is!!! Seattle U earned the Portland sweep on Saturday evening with an impressive road win over the Pilots. Last Sunday at the Redhawk Center, Seattle U beat Portland State. And on Saturday, the Redhawks beat the other team from Portland.
And it was due in large part to adjustments made at halftime. The Redhawks trailed 32-26 at the break. But, came alive in the second half, outscoring Portland, 44-26, after halftime to earn the sweep of the Portland schools.
Cam Tyson had a team-high 18 points and hit four more 3-pointers. Alex Schumacher had 14 points. And both Emeka Udenyi and Brandton Chatfield each had 12 points. Chatfield also knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the win.
The Redhawks shot 53 percent for the game and 60 percent in the second half.
Whatever you want to say about Seattle U, you have to acknowledge that the defending co-champs have been solid to open the 2022-23 season. Seattle U has three Division I wins, is 4-0 overall, and has two true road wins, thus far.
And they have done it while one of their team leaders, Riley Grigsby, has not played due to a foot injury. Keep an eye on the Redhawks who should improve to 5-0 when they host Pacific Lutheran on Wednesday.
— Seattle U Men's Basketball (@seattleumbb) November 20, 2022