Taking down tough competition

Men’s basketball defeats 13th ranked Northwest Nazarene University

Mesaged Abakar, Staff Reporter

Basketball player dunks ball
Harry Cavell finds an opening and goes for a dunk over two defenders. (Jacky Chen)

This week, Seattle Pacific University’s men’s basketball team defeated Northwest Nazarene University, the thirteenth ranked team in the nation, pushing the Falcons winning streak to four games in a row. On Feb. 26th, SPU beat NNU 89-79. With 50 percent shooting accuracy from the three-point range (15 of 30) and the floor (30 of 60), SPU went into halftime with a good lead of 48-23.

“We were going to give them our best shot for sure, and prove that we are a good team. We knew that they were ranked 13th in the nation, and that it wouldn’t be an easy game, but we never doubted our chances.” Said senior forward Mehdi El Mardi

With under ten minutes left in the second half, SPU Redshirt Freshman guard Zack Paulsen scored a three-pointer, giving SPU a huge lead of 77-45.

“The team performance was really good, it was probably our best showing of the year. It was a really big team effort.” said Paulsen

NNU did not give up and went on a 14-0 run, though SPU still had a 77-59 lead. NNU was on an eight-point run with under two minutes on the clock, decreasing the lead to 82-70. SPU had five of six free throws in the last minute and half of the game, taking the win.

“I think them being ranked the 13th in the country and us wanting to be in that spot helped our mindset and focus. It was different being the underdog, but we used it as an advantage,” said junior Divant’e Moffitt

Basketball player looks to pass the ball.
Syon Blackmon was the highest scoring member of the Falcons on Friday night, the 26th. (Jacky Chen)

Freshman forward Syon Blackmon had a career high total of 18 points, marking his third game in a row scoring in double figures.

Paulsen scored 14 points. El Mardi had 13 points, and Senior Guard Sharif Khan added 12.

Ezekiel Alley, NNU’s leading scorer coming into the game, was not able to stay out of foul trouble. After receiving two fouls within the first minute of the game, Alley sat out 12 minutes in the first half.

“I loved how we were so locked in the game plan. We wanted to stop them defensively and disrupt what they were doing offensively and we did a really good job taking away their best players,” said junior guard Divant’e Moffitt.

George Reidy and Alley were the only players on the team with double digit scoring. Alley had 19 and Reidy had 13.

“We all knew that those games were really important for us, but the mindset of the team wasn’t any different to how we approach every game, every night we get to play our goal is to win,” said El Mardi.

Man dribbles ball down basketball court.
Sharif Khan dribbles pass Northwest Nazarene Nighthawks’ Brandon Recek as he guards him. (Jacky Chen)

SPU defeated NNU again the following day, on Saturday the 27th.

“In the second game, we did a better job at maintaining the lead while being more patient and better with the ball.” said Paulsen

With a total of 29 minutes of playtime, Moffitt scored 20 points for the Falcons and three of four shots made from the three point range, leading to the big win against NNU again with a final score of 83-68.

“With the available players, this is one of the greatest performances we had, but I am certain that we are capable of more,” said El Mardi

SPU Senior Guard Sharif Khan had a double-double with a total of 18 points and a season-high of 10 rebounds. Adding 16 points for the Falcons was senior guard Harry Cavell, and Paulsen scored eight points.

“We knew that we had worked very hard and that we could handle playing against NNU and we showed that on Friday and Saturday night,” said Moffitt.

On Saturday, March 6th, at 1 p.m., SPU hosts a home game against Saint Martin’s to close their regular-season schedule. That is a makeup game, which was previously scheduled on February 13th and was postponed due to weather conditions.