Sparling Secures 400th Career Win

The Alaska Nanooks men’s basketball team went on the road to Bellingham, Wash. and grabbed a big 96-85 victory. This win brings the Nanooks to 9-12 overall and 8-5 in conference. The Nanooks are now in a three-way tie for second place in conference with Western Washington and Northwest Nazarene. 

A layup from Shadeed Shabazz got the Nanooks their first two points of the game. From there, the team struggled a bit offensively, turning the ball over on offense and allowing Western Washington to build a six-point lead, 7-13, with 14:50 remaining in the first half. The ‘Nooks continued to struggle offensively and WWU pushed their lead to double-digits. Alaska found its groove midway through the first and a basket from Keshaun Howard at the 7:47 mark cut the lead to one point, 25-26. The Vikings would respond with a 2-13 run to put them up, 27-39, with 2:38 remaining. The Nanooks trailed 31-42 at the end of the first half. 

Coming out of the break, the two teams traded baskets back-and-forth until the 15:45 mark when WWU hit a three-pointer to extend their lead back to 12 points, making it 39-51. Back-to-back deep balls from Shabazz and Alex Sommerfield sparked a 17-7 run for Alaska, however, pulling them back within two, 56-58, with just under 11 minutes left in regulation. The team continued their offensive run and took the lead, but the Vikings responded with baskets of their own. The two teams traded the lead a few times under the seven-minute mark until a basket from Shabazz kicked off a 10-0 run for the Nanooks. The ‘Nooks held a nine-point lead, 77-68, with 4:15 remining in regulation. Western Washington tried to rally back in the final minutes, but Alaska remained solid at the free-throw line and played defense well enough down the stretch to walk away with a 96-85 road win over the Western Washington University Vikings.

Shadeed Shabazz had a spectacular night, draining seven three-pointers and tying his season-high with 43 points on a 14-24 shooting night. This 43-point performance also tied the Carver Gymnasium scoring-record, etching his name into an already-historic venue. He also tallied seven assists and four steals to his name. Spencer Sweet had another solid night, going 6-12 from the field and scoring 18 points while Markel Banks also made his presence felt with 13 points and eight rebounds. 

The team went 33-61 from the field, 9-17 from deep, and 21-27 from the free-throw line. They also held their opponents to 6-23 from deep and 7-12 from the free throw line.

The Nanooks have a lot more to celebrate tonight, as this win marks number 400 for head coach Greg Sparling. Sparling had a lot to say about tonight’s victory and what it meant to him and so many people around him,  “I really don’t know where to start but I’m truly blessed that the University of Alaska Fairbanks gave me a chance…I would truly like to thank all of my former and current student-athletes along the way. I obviously could not have reached this coaching milestone without you. It’s been awesome watching my guys grow into men. Watching all of their accomplishments in life. I couldn’t have done any of it without any of them. I want to thank all my former and current coaches that helped me get to this point. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. To my family, Kristin, Coleman and Jacob, I love you guys and I appreciate all your support along this journey. My dad, my brothers and the rest of my family, thank you! I also want to thank all my athletic trainers along the way, I appreciate all you’ve done. To all my SID and radio guys. I want to thank all the fans along the way! Now it’s time to turn the focus to Simon Fraser.”

After thanking his family and those closest around him, Coach Spar said one last thank you to of his Central Washington family, “I would also like to thank Gil Coleman and Dean Nicholson for the opportunity to play and coach at CWU, without them I wouldn’t be where I am at! I would finally like to thank one of my mentors, Keith Kingsbury, thank you for all the guidance along the way.”