Falcons fall to Vikings

It had to happen at some point, and for the Falcons, that point was this weekend. The Seattle Pacific men’s basketball team, ranked No. 2 regionally, fell to rival Western Washington University (WWU), ranked No.1 regionally, Saturday night at Sam Carver Gym in Bellingham as an over-capacity crowd witnessed the national marquee match-up.

SPU (6-1, 14-2), had their nine-game winning streak snapped by the Vikings, who went on an early 11-2 run in the second half to distance themselves from their opponents. The Falcons trailed by as many as 20 at one point, and were down 19 with just under five minutes left to play in regulation.

Not going out without a fight, SPU roared back and cut WWU’s lead to nine with a 12-2 run over the next two and a half minutes. Unfortunately, the Vikings kept their ground, and SPU was unable to take all the wind out of their sails. The Vikings won the contest 95-84.

"We had a good, strong, contingent focus," assistant coach Scott Reid said. He called the contest a battle for both teams, and said that both fought very hard through the game.

"The decisive run in the second half showed a lot of heart and character," Reid said, commenting on the run the Falcons put together late in the game.

The Falcons were led by senior Mike Bushmaker, who mustered up 19 points in the loss, 11 of which came in the second half. Fellow senior Chad Williams followed close behind with 15 points of his own and seven rebounds. Junior Dustin Bremerman also scored in the double digits for the Falcons, racking up 13 points and four boards, while starting senior point guard Tony Binetti chipped in 12 points, and four steals. And, not to go unnoticed, sophomore standout Robbie Will nearly had a double-double in the game, scoring nine points, grabbing 11 boards, and blocking six shots.

"Our perimeter defense was strong, but our post defense needs to get better," Reid said. Reid also mentioned that the Falcons have been rather slim at the guard position as of late, due to junior transfer Brian Lynch being sidelined with a high ankle sprain.

The whole weekend was not like this, though. Just two days before hand, SPU had traveled across the state to visit Central Washington University (CWU) in Ellensburg.

The Falcons showed why they are ranked No. 3 nationally against CWU, scoring an averaged 49.5 points per half and winning by eight, 99-91. Bremerman and Williams sank back-to-back 3-pointers with six minutes to go to push the Falcons’ lead to six, then back-to-back field goals to make the score 93-86. Central would not get closer than four points as the Falcons disposed of the regionally-ranked Wildcats.

"We were getting better looks (versus the Western game), and our shots were falling," Williams said. He also identified communication difficulties being attributed to the loss against Western.

Led by Bremerman’s 31 points, the Falcons shot 53 percent or better from the field for the sixth consecutive game, including 58 percent in the second half of this game. They converted 11-20 3-pointers, and only missed three free throws (26-29). Bremerman and Binetti were each 10 for 10 from the free throw line, and Binetti tallied a career-high 27 points in the contest, 18 of which came in the second half.

Also scoring in double digits for the Falcons were Mike Bushmaker with 13 points, and Williams with 10 and seven rebounds.

The Falcons now host their next four games, starting with Saint Martin’s on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. The Saints are winless against conference opponents so far this year, and have a 5-11 overall record. Saturday is Homecoming for SPU and the men begin play at 3:30 p.m. when cross-town rival Seattle University visits Royal Brougham. The game comes during Homecoming weekend, so the atmosphere will be very intense, especially if the Falcons’ "Sixth Man" comes through in the same way the Seahawks’ "12th Man" came through this Sunday at Quest Field.

"In a playoff atmosphere, we need to bring a playoff effort for all 40 minutes," Reid said.

SPU is undefeated at Royal Brougham Pavilion so far this season, and intends to keep it that way through the next four games at least. Although Seattle University is not faring well against conference opponents, they do have a 10-6 overall record, and could put up a good fight against the Falcons. Royal Brougham Pavilion holds 2,650 fans at its capacity, which is a mere 18 fans more than were at the Western Washington game this past weekend, and the game showed how the "Sixth Man" makes a huge difference in the outcome of games.

"This is one of the best Seattle U teams we’ve faced in the three years I’ve been here," Reid said. He believes that Saturday’s game will be one of the most competitive Homecoming games in a long time.

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Title: Falcons fall to Vikings | Author: Ryan Phillips | Section: Sports | Published Date: 2006-01-25 | Internal ID: 4803