Men rout Northwest College

SPU jumped to an early lead over the Northwest College Eagles last night and went on to a commanding 103-66 win.

Senior guard Nick Johnson led the Falcons with 19 points, and junior forward Yusef Aziz added 17 as part of SPU’s well-balanced offensive attack. The Falcons had five players score in double figures.

The Falcons opened the game with two quick baskets by Johnson and senior forward Brannon Stone, forcing the Eagles to call a timeout only 41 seconds into the game. But the timeout failed to help the Eagles, and at the end of three minutes the Falcons led 10-2, and the game was never in doubt.

"Overall I felt like we did a good job," head coach Ken Bone said. "It was very obvious we did an excellent job in the first half and a mediocre job in the second."

Johnson scored 13 of his 19 points in the first half, but it was the Falcons’ defense that dominated the game. The Falcons forced 14 turnovers in the first half alone and out-rebounded the Eagles 21-12 in the half. The Eagles’ miscues and failure to stop the Falcons on the boards led to several SPU fast breaks and transition baskets.

"The first half I was very pleased," Bone said. "Northwest College is a way better team than it showed tonight, and that’s a credit to our guys. They just took them out of it."

The second half opened with a resounding dunk by senior center Eric Sandrin, putting the Falcons ahead by 40. And while the Falcons played a somewhat sloppy second half, the victory was already secure.

"I think we played pretty good," Aziz said. "We kind of let up in the second half, but in the first half we played well together as a team and did what Coach wanted us to do."

With the win over the Eagles, SPU finishes their most successful month of November in three years. Though the team has averaged 24 wins over the last two seasons, the Falcons have been unable to escape the season’s opening month of play without two losses.

The men opened with a loss in the Vitamilk Tip-Off Classic, hosted at Brougham Pavilion on Nov. 16 and 17. In the tournament opener, the Falcons faced Indianapolis, a team that came into the game with a win over Division I Indiana State.

With three seconds left in the game, Indianapolis guard Cedric Moodie hit a 17-footer to push the Greyhounds ahead of SPU for a 68-67 win.

Both teams were cold on the offensive end and shot 40 percent or under, and the game was played closely throughout the second half with seven lead changes in the final seven minutes. The loss was SPU’s third straight in a home season-opener.

The Falcons fared better the next night against Lock Haven. SPU’s defense and rebounding were critical in the 87-59 win over the Bald Eagles. SPU capitalized on 28 turnovers by Lock Haven and out-rebounded the Bald Eagles 37-26.

Aziz, a junior transfer, scored 17 points and nine rebounds, following up a 16-point night against Indianapolis. Aziz converted eight of 10 field goals and after the game was named to the all-tournament team, along with Johnson.

The Falcons dominated the inside as Eric Sandrin scored 15 points, and his brother, junior forward Daniel Sandrin, added 14 points off the bench.

Eric Sandrin also led the team in scoring in Saturday’s win over Seattle University. The 64-49 victory was the Falcons’ 10th straight win over the Redhawks.

As in the tournament, SPU’s defense was a significant factor in the game, as the team held the Redhawks to only 33 percent from the floor. The Redhawks attempted only three shots inside of 10 feet the entire game and managed just 21 points in the first half.

SPU hopes to continue their success on Saturday against Hawaii Pacific at Brougham Pavilion. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. And even with the dominant victories over Seattle University and Northwest College, Bone still sees aspects of his team’s play that can be improved.

"I would like to see us get the ball and be more productive scoring in the paint and being as unselfish as possible," Bone said.

The players also realize there is still a lot to prove. "It’s still early in the season," Aziz said. "We’ve still got to play better as a team, but I think we’re going to be pretty good."

After Hawaii Pacific, SPU will head to Central Washington on Dec. 6 for a 7 p.m. game against the Wildcats. Last year the Wildcats beat SPU 101-95 in the first round of the NCAA Regionals, finishing the Falcons’ postseason. SPU will have to stop Central’s Justin and Terry Thompson. Guard Terry Thompson was named Great Northwest Athletic Conference player of the week on Monday, and senior forward Justin Thompson is one of the team’s leading scorers.

Over winter break, the Falcons will play in two tournaments: the High Desert Classic in Las Vegas, Nev., and the Oak Harbor Freightlines Classic on Dec. 28 and 29.

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Title: Men rout Northwest College | Author: Sara Jaime | Section: Sports | Published Date: 2001-11-28 | Internal ID: 2329