Western opens GNAC play with 82-63 victory at Northwest Nazarene
Jan. 3, 2008
NAMPA, Id. - Forward Steve Alford (Jr., Bakersfield, CA/South) scored a game-high 25 points, 17 in the second half, as Western Washington University rallied from a two-point halftime deficit, shooting 69.0 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes, to defeat Northwest Nazarene University, 82-63, in men's basketball action Thursday at Johnson Sports Center.
It was the Great Northwest Athletic Conference opener for both schools.
The Vikings, who were coming off a two-week holiday break, improved to 8-2. Trailing 31-29 at halftime, they made 20-of-29 field goals in the second half.
Alford, who also grabbed a game-high nine rebounds, was 8-of-10 from the floor in the second half and finished 11-of-17. It was his sixth straight game scoring double figures.
NNU, which got off to a school-best 8-0 start before losing to NCAA Division I Idaho State, 71-66, last Saturday, fell to 8-2. The Crusaders had four double-figure scorers, led by guard Tyler Roberts with 13 points.
Western guard Ira Graham (Jr., Fontana, CA) had his GNAC and school-record streak as the team's leading scorer snapped at 10. Graham, who played only six minutes in the first half because of foul trouble, finished with 14 points, 10 in the second half.
Schell and Bruce were each 5-of-6 from the field as Western shot 57.9 percent (33-of-57) for the game.
Western opened the second half with an 11-3 run over the first 3:30 to lead 40-34 on a 3-pointer by Graham. Ahead by eight, 51-43 with 11:35 remaining, the Vikings outscored NNU 15-3 for a 20-point advantage, 66-46, on a 3-pointer by Schell with 4:34 to go.
Western's biggest lead was 23 points twice in the final 2:04.
The Vikings trailed most of the first half, being behind by as many as five points on three occasions. Graham picked up his second foul six minutes into the contest and did not play the rest of the period, while
NNU made 5-of-8 3-pointers and the Vikings were 0-of-3 from beyond the arc.
NNU shot just 36.7 percent (11-of-30) in the second half and finished at 41.8 percent (23-of-55), hitting only 2-of-12 3-pointers in the final period.
Western next travels to Seattle Pacific University for a GNAC counter Saturday (7 p.m.) with the nationally No.17-ranked Falcons (8-1, host Central Washington tonight), who are riding a seven-game winning streak.
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