By Ben Bagley
SEATTLE — In a battle between the top two teams in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, the Viking’s men’s basketball team lost to rival Seattle Pacific University Falcons on Thursday, Jan. 23, by a final score of 74-65.
Western, 12-5, 7-2 in GNAC play, had their eight-game winning streak snapped. SPU, 13-4, 9-0 in GNAC play, remained unbeaten in the conference and stretched their winning streak to 13. The Falcons now have a two-game lead in the conference.
The Vikings were led in scoring by senior forward Trevor Jasinsky, who recorded a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Following him was sophomore guard Jalen Green, who added 16 points, seven rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Junior forward Luke Lovelady was the only other Viking in double-digit scoring, with 10 points and three blocks.
“It was a well-fought game,” Vikings’ assistant coach David Dunham said. “We just didn’t shoot the ball as well as we had hoped.”
The Vikings shot a dismal 2-23 from the 3-point line, including going 0-10 from deep in the second half. The poor shooting performance was uncharacteristic, as Western ranks fourth in the GNAC in 3-point percentage with 36.5% as a team. After trailing SPU by seven going into the break, the Falcons grew their lead to 19 points with 10:31 to play.
“We really stuck together and fought to the end and we never gave up even though we were down in the second half,” sophomore guard RJ Secrest said.
Secrest, who started in place of the injured senior guard Siaan Rojas, scored 5 points and added 3 rebounds and 3 assists.
“Our team morale was really strong going through it, so I think that is something we can build off of for the rest of the season,” Secrest said.
Despite the loss, Western led SPU in team rebounds, blocks, points in the paint, second-chance points and fast break points. However, the Falcons went 21-25 from the free throw line compared to the Vikings’ 13-14.
“They were just able to get to the line a little bit more than we were,” Dunham said.
The Vikings were in foul trouble all evening. Redshirt freshman guard D’Angelo Minnis picked up two fouls in the first three minutes of play and both Secrest and senior forward Cam Retherford fouled out of the game.
After having their eight-game winning streak snapped, the team’s focus is on getting back to the basics.
“We have to get back to what we were doing before tonight to start that streak — playing team basketball, and being a little bit more on the assist column than the turnover column,” Dunham said.
Western finished with 15 turnovers and just 8 assists.
“The streak came to an end for us tonight, but now it’s an opportunity to get on another one. When we start this new one, we’ll be even better,” Dunham said.
Western has two games left on their road trip, with the next game being at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho, on Thursday, Jan. 30.
“We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing. We don’t need to change anything,” Lovelady said about the upcoming schedule.
“We have to get right back to it and just keep the ball rolling. We’re still early in the season, so we have a lot of time,” Lovelady said. “We’re the top team in the league, we just have to get there.”
After concluding the road trip, the Vikings will be back in Bellingham on Feb. 6 and Feb. 8 to face the University of Alaska Anchorage and the University of Alaska Fairbanks.