Wildcat Men's Basketball Celebrates New Year with Block PartyPosted: Updated:
ELLENSBURG, Wash. (Jan. 1) -- Junior Jody Johnson (Seattle, Wash./Franklin HS) and senior Chris Sprinker (Tacoma, Wash./Curtis HS) teamed up to score 31 points on a combined 12 of 15 shooting in the second half, and junior Roby Clyde (Connell, Wash./Pasco HS) set school and conference records with 10 blocked shots as the 11th-ranked Central Washington University men's basketball team cruised to a 109-92 victory over the University of Alaska Fairbanks on Saturday afternoon at Nicholson Pavilion.
The Wildcats rebounded from their second loss of the season to improve to 10-2 on the season and 3-1 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. The Nanooks fall to 3-6 and 0-2 in the GNAC.
In addition to Clyde, who had five blocks in each half, the Wildcats as a team set new school and conference records with 16 total blocks in the contest. Three CWU players -- Clyde, Sprinker, and senior Coby Gibler (Bainbridge Island, Wash./Bainbridge HS) -- combined for the 16 rejections. The total surpassed the previous record of 13, set on two occasions including most recently seven years ago. Clyde's individual record broke the previous mark of nine, set by Leon Johnson in current head coach Greg Sparling's first official game as head coach on Mar. 7, 1995 against Lewis-Clark State.
Sprinker recorded first double-double of the season with 20 points and 11 rebounds, missing just one shot attempt in 17 minutes of action. Johnson added 18 points -- all in the second half -- and finished with eight rebounds.
Central took a 5-4 advantage on a Humberto Perez (Yakima, Wash./A.C. Davis HS) three-pointer at the 17:13 mark in the first half and never trailed again. The Wildcats led by as many as 14 points in the first period, but the Nanooks battled back to cut Central's halftime lead to four at 42-38.
The second half belonged to Sprinker, Johnson, and the Wildcats. Sprinker, a 6-foot-9 center, entertained the crowd with four dunks and 10 total points within the first 4:30 of the period. Central used a 22-6 run in the first 6:18 of the half to extend its lead to 22 points, and the Nanooks never got closer than a 16-point point deficit the rest of the way.
The Wildcats shot 59.0 percent (23 of 39) from the field in the second half, including 5 of 11 three-pointers. Alaska also shot well in the final 20 minutes, hitting on 50 percent of its attempts (14 of 28) and scoring 22 in 26 tries at the free throw line after halftime. The Nanooks outscored CWU 31-23 at the charity stripe for the game.
Seniors Jamar Berry (Tacoma, Wash./Franklin Pierce HS) and Drew Harris (Yakima, Wash./Eisenhower HS) also contributed offensively for CWU, scoring 18 and 17, respectively. Berry, who narrowly trails Sprinker for the Wildcats' team scoring lead on the season, has now scored in double figures in 10 of Central's 12 games on the year, including eight of the last nine.
The Nanooks were led by Parrish West, who entered the game ranked among the NCAA Division II national leaders in scoring with 27.1 points per game. West was held to 8 of 17 shooting and finished with a game-high 22 points. UAF had six different players score in double figures, including all five of its starters.
Central Washington, which has played eight of its first 12 games this year away from Nicholson Pavilion, will return to the road for three consecutive GNAC contests over the next two weeks. That road swing begins with a Jan. 8 tilt at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho. The Wildcats do not return home until a Jan. 20 match-up with rival Western Washington.
COLLEGE MEN'S BASKETBALL
NCAA DIVISION II/GREAT NORTHWEST ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
#11 Central Washington 109, Alaska 92