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Western reaches 20 wins in season, first time in 18 years

 Staff Writer

Western men’s basketball team boarded their bus last week to play Central Washington University on Thursday, Feb. 5, and then Northwest Nazarene University on Feb. 7. The Wolves would extend their win streak to 10 by coming though with wins in both venues.

By winning the last two games (20-3, 21-1 GNAC), for the first time in school
history, the team has now moved into the Top 20 in both National Association of Basketball Coaches and the DII Media Poll Sponsored by Division II Sports Information Directors of America.

“It’s definitely a great accomplishment as a team and individually to contribute
to that,” said guard Devon Alexander. “We are, however, aware that we haven’t accomplished our overall goal just yet, so we put the rankings and stuff behind us for now. We still have a lot of work to do.”

The win against Central Washington University (12-6, 7-4 GNAC) was not an easy win. With a final score of 78-71, the Wolves had to overcome a 10-point deficit
early in the second half before forward Andy Avgi put the final nail in the coffin with a breakaway dunk to finish the game.

Avgi had 27 points of the night with 11-of-15 shooting and was backed up by Alexander who had 15 points of his own. Guard Julian Nichols contributed in all aspects of the game with eight points, seven rebounds and a game-high eight
assists before leaving with an injury late in the final minutes.

“Central Washington is really difficult to stop,” said head coach Brady Bergeson.
“They never let down with their attack. Our guys spent everything they had to get
this one done.”

In a similar match-up, it was the Wolves impressive game finishing skills that
made the win a possibility while playing Northwest Nazarene University (10-12,
8-4 GNAC) last Saturday. Alexander lead the team offensively as they mounted a
9-1 run in the game’s final two-minutes to give Western their 20th win of the season in a fashionable and dramatic comeback contest.

Alexander had a game-high 19 points, a game-high six steals, and four clutch
free throws in the final 30 seconds of the game to seal the deal at 66-62. Avgi had 15 points and a gamehigh eight rebounds as he was once again a dominant force in the paint.

“Our kids gutted themselves to find a way to win tonight,” Bergeson said. “It was an exhausting, physical, hard-fought game. I’m so proud of our young men.”

Western posted its first season with 20-or-more victories since the Wolves went
20-9 during the 1996-97 season as a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. In the 94-year history of the program, Western has registered 20-ormore wins only 14 times that included two stretches of four straight seasons from 1979-83 and 1993-97.

“The rankings aren’t our main focus; it’s the game in front of us, but it is nice to have that recognition,” said Avgi.

The Wolves traveled to Washington Wednesday Feb. 11, to play Saint Martin’s
University in the ROOT sports game of the week, where they won 66-56. This will
sum up three away games in six days for the Wolves as they hope to take home a W
for the second time this year against Saint Martin’s.

The Wolves will then return home to welcome Western Washington University on Feb. 19 at 7 p.m.