Central Remains UndefeatedPosted: Updated:
SEATTLE, Wash. (Dec. 3) -- Senior Jamar Berry (Tacoma, Wash./Franklin Pierce HS) scored a game-high 19 points, and the 24th-ranked Central Washington University men's basketball team posted its lowest victorious point total in nearly 16 years as the Wildcats defeated Grand Canyon University, 56-52, on Friday evening at the SPU Invitational.
The win helps CWU maintain its undefeated record, improving the Wildcats' mark to 6-0. Grand Canyon fell to 2-4 on the season.
Central defeated the 'Lopes despite scoring 33 points below its season average and shooting just 33.3 percent from the floor on 19 of 57. Their point total was the fewest scored by a Wildcat team in a victory since a 53-50 win at Puget Sound on Jan. 19, 1995 -- two months before current CWU head coach Greg Sparling took the reins of the program.
Berry accounted for more than one-third of the Wildcats' offense, making 7 of 15 field-goal attempts including two of Central's four made three-pointers in the game. Twelve of his points came in the second half, including the game-clinching free throw with three seconds remaining that made it a two-possession contest.
The see-saw battle featured six ties and 10 lead changes. Central took a 26-25 lead into the halftime intermission after senior Chris Scott (Las Vegas, Nev./Bonanza HS) hit a three-pointer with six seconds remaining in the opening period, capping a 7-0 period-ending run by the Wildcats.
Grand Canyon regained the lead early in the second half on its four possession of the period, but it was Central Washington who led for most of the final 20 minutes. The Wildcats used a 5-0 run to break the game's sixth and final tie, and they were in front until the 2:02 mark, when GCU took a 49-48 lead. The two teams traded three-pointers, which put the 'Lopes ahead 52-51 with 1:31 left, but Central held the Pacific West Conference school scoreless over the final 91 seconds while regaining the lead on a jumper by junior Jody Johnson (Seattle, Wash./Franklin HS) with 45 seconds to go. The Wildcats then made three of four free throws down the stretch to preserve the victory.
While Berry was the Wildcats' scoring hero, Johnson and senior Chris Sprinker (Tacoma, Wash./Curtis HS) were also clutch for CWU in the second half. Johnson had eight points and four rebounds in the final period, while Sprinker added seven as that duo combined with Berry for 27 of the Wildcats' 30 points after halftime.
Central won the battle of the glass, 36-32, and forced Grand Canyon into 20 turnovers while committing only 13 of its own. The Wildcats overcame a 13 percent disadvantage in field goal shooting, but took advantage of just 4 of 11 shooting by GCU at the free throw line.
Eight of nine CWU players to appear in the game scored at least two points, with a balanced attack following Berry's game-high total.
Grand Canyon was led by the 17 points of guard Brad Carroll, who scored 12 in the second half to lead the 'Lopes.
Central Washington, which has played four games in the last eight days, will wrap up its two-day stay at the tournament by facing 23rd-ranked Chaminade (5-2 entering tonight's game versus Seattle Pacific) at 5 p.m. on Saturday. The Wildcats will then break for final exams before returning to the court in Great Northwest Athletic Conference action next Saturday (Dec. 11) at Saint Martin's University.