FAIRBANKS—Riding high after winning their own GCI Invitational last weekend in Fairbanks, the Alaska Nanooks men’s basketball team quickly came back to Earth in the first round of the 12th annual Chuck Randall Thanksgiving Classic Friday in Bellingham, Wash.
The Southwest Baptist Bearcats (2-4) drained a barrage of 3-pointers in burying the Nanooks 91-63 in the opening game of the two-day tournament in Western Washington University’s Carver Gymnasium.
In the other opening round game, No. 6 Western Washington defeated Concordia-St. Paul, 80-76.
Today, the Nanooks take on Concordia-St. Paul at 1 p.m. ADT, and Western Washington goes up against Southwest Baptist later in the day.
Southwest Baptist was 16 for 25 (64 percent) from beyond the 3-point line against the Nanooks, including 8 for 11 in the second half as the Bearcats broke open a relatively close game by outscoring Alaska 50-30 in the final 20 minutes.
Preston Guiot and Kyle Sloan combined to 13 for 16 from beyond the arc to help the Bearcats pull away.
The Nanooks took their only lead 12 seconds into the game when forward Andrew Kelly scored on a layup, butt the Bearcats responded with back-to-back 3-pointers by Sloan and Guiot and the Bearcats never trailed again.
The Nanooks cut a 35-30 deficit to 38-33 late in the first half, only to see Guiot nail a 3-pointer with three seconds left in the halftime to give the Bearcats a 41-33 lead at the break.
The Nanooks were still within five points, 47-42, in the second half, when Sloan dropped another 3-bomb on Alaska and the rout was on.
Guiot was 8 for 10 from the field and 7 for 7 from 3-point range. He finished with a game-high 24 points. All of Sloan’s shot were from 3-point range as he was 6 for 18 to finish with 18 points.
Ronnie Baker came off the bench to lead the Nanooks with an 18-point performance. Pat Voeut, who is the reigning GNAC Player of the Week, was the only starter in double figures with 11 points. He also had five assists.
The Nanooks, who outrebounded their opponents in four of their first five games, lost the battle of the boards 35-29.
The Bearcats went 36-61 from the field (59 percent), while the Nanooks were 24 for 62 (38.7 percent). Alaska was 6 for 18 from 3-point range.
Contact the News-Miner sports department at 459.7581.