Falcons nest in the top three

Konner Hancock

The SPU men’s basketball team didn’t let winter break slow them down, winning four of their five conference matches over the break.

The teams overall record was 5-3 and their conference record was 1-1 before the break. The Falcons improved over the past few weeks, their overall record now sitting at 9-4, their conference record at 4-2.

The improved record moves SPU into the top three ranked teams in the Greater Northwest Athletic Conference.

“We’ve been playing hard with consistency,” said Grant Leep, the head coach of the men’s basketball team. “If we can keep that up, good things generally happen for us.”
Leep said he would like to keep up the pace and really settle in at the top three seeds in the GNAC.

Amongst all the good news, the Falcons stumbled upon an unfortunate circumstance: the team’s top scorer Tony Miller was injured sometime in between the last two games of the winter break.

“We missed Tony for sure,” Leep said. “He does a lot for us and is a very good player and scorer. When we play well, and this has happened both with Tony and without, we have great pace and ball movement. We expect those things to continue every time we play.”
When asked about Miller’s status, Leep declined discussing the matter.

While Miller was still playing over the break, the team defeated Stanislaus State 90-79, fell to Western Washington 86-80, prevailed through over time against Simon Fraser 98-93 and dominated Alaska Fairbanks 95-79.

After Miller’s injury, the Falcons were barely able to crawl to a win against Alaska Anchorage, 57-54.

Despite the victory, it was SPU’s coldest offensive performance this season. The team missed 32 of 52 field goals, nine of them coming from beyond the arc.

SPU shot at 31.75 percent, not including free throws.

“It was a very competitive game the entire way,” Leep said. “I think our biggest lead was nine. That is the toughest road trip we have all season, then to add to it, we were without Tony and several players were battling a cold. I was very proud of the toughness and grit that we displayed, and we stepped up to make some big plays down the stretch.”

Although the team struggled without Miller, they still made strides to win the game. Gabe Colosimo drained three of his four free throws in the final 18 seconds of the game to put the Falcons out of reach.

Along with Colosimo’s clutch free throws, teammates Wooten Coleman and Nathan Streufert were able to account for a large part of SPU’s offensive showing with 15 and 10 points respectively.

The teams next face off is against the 0-6 conference Concordia Cavaliers on Thursday, Jan. 11, at 7 p.m. at home.