NNU Men's BB Magic
Updated: Mar 14
NNU Shocks #1 Colorado Mesa, Advances to Sweet 16
GOLDEN, Colo. - Northwest Nazarene men's basketball's magical run continued on Saturday, taking down the top seed in the West Region and the No. 1 team in the country, Colorado Mesa, and doing so in dominating fashion, 74-54. The Nighthawks controlled the game from the opening tip, jumping out to a 12-4 lead after four minutes and never trailing throughout the rest of the game. NNU held the high-powered Mavericks to just 24 points in the first half, taking a 10-point lead into the break. Overall, NNU held Mesa to just 36.2% (21-58) shooting from the field and a paltry 15% (3-20) from deep, also forcing 19 turnovers. By contrast, the Nighthawks shot 50% from deep (11-22). Just as he has all season, Ezekiel Alley shone brightly, leading all scorers with a season-best 30 points. Alley was incredibly efficient, going 9-18 (50%) from the field and an incredible 6-9 from deep. He was also a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line. George Reidy added 17 points, going 3-5 from deep and recording three steals. Gabriel Murphy tallied eight points and six rebounds, while Sam Roth had seven rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Colorado Mesa scored the first two points of the game on a pair of free throws, but a Reidy triple put the Nighthawks in front moments later. Before the first media timeout, Murphy and Alley hit back-to-back threes to put the Nighthawks up 12-4. The lead grew to 18-4 before the Mavericks finally scored another point with 11:18 to go in the opening half. Minutes later, another Reidy triple gave NNU their largest lead of the first-half of 15, 26-11, with 6:19 to play. CMU made a bit of a run into halftime, cutting the Nighthawks lead to 34-24 at the break. Every time that Colorado Mesa seemed to be making up some ground, though, Alley shut down their rallies with triples or other game-altering plays. This time, it was a triple at the 14:10 mark that put NNU back up by 14, 44-30. The lead would grow to 22 on a dunk from Andrew Ferrin with 6:23 to play, and Brandon Recek gave the Nighthawks their largest lead of the game with a triple moments later to make it 65-41. Reidy's third three of the game with 70 seconds to play put an exclamation point on the win, as NNU came away with the 20-point upset. With the win, Northwest Nazarene earned the right to face No. 2 seed and tournament host Colorado Mines in the regional championship on Monday at 7:00 p.m. The winner of that game will advance to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight, March 24-27 in Evansville, Indiana.