By: Andrew Gavin (@GBGavin)
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – In a game built for fans of statistics, unselfishness and explosiveness, Green Bay (3-1) delivered a Thanksgiving Day feast of both on Thursday night at Sullivan Arena, putting five players in double figures and combining for 24 steals and blocked shots en route to a 97-89 victory over Pepperdine (4-1).
With the win in the opening round of the Great Alaska Shootout, the Phoenix advances to Friday’s night’s second semifinal against the winner of Harvard-Denver. The semifinal contest will be televised live at 11 p.m. CT on CBS Sports Network.
Junior Keifer Sykes (Chicago, Ill.), using a perfect 12-of-12 effort from the free-throw line, led the Phoenix with 23 points and seven assists. Senior Alec Brown (Winona, Minn.) added 20 points on 4-of-5 shooting from long range and added eight rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
Despite the 20-point efforts from Green Bay’s All-Horizon League duo, it was junior Greg Mays (Chicago, Ill.) that stole the show on both ends of the floor and was named the Carrs/Safeway Coach Gillen Mighty Moose Player of the Game. Mays blocked three shots in the first half in slowing down Pepperdine leading scorer Stacy Davis.
In the second half, Mays scored 14 of his 18 points as the Phoenix pulled out to lead by as many as 16 in the second half. The 6-foot-9 junior scored 10 points during a 27-10 Green Bay spurt which turned a 45-44 deficit into a 71-55 lead with 6:48 to play.
Pepperdine made 13 of its last 16 shots in the final seven minutes to keep the game in reach, but Sykes made a perfect 10-of-10 from the stripe and the Phoenix connected on 17-of-18 free throws in the last two minutes.
Sophomore Carrington Love (Milwaukee, Wis.) had a career-high 15 points and added five assists in 25 minutes off the Phoenix bench. Senior Vince Garrett (Chicago, Ill.) scored nine of his 11 points in the opening half as Green Bay built a seven-point lead and went into the locker room leading 39-38.
Green Bay committed a turnover on the game’s opening possession but only had three miscues the rest of the night, finishing with 25 assists and only four turnovers. The Phoenix held a 28-5 advantage in points off turnovers.
Jordan Fouse (Racine, Wis.) was scoreless on the night due to 0-for-5 shooting from both the field and the free-throw line, but the 6-foot-7 sophomore totaled seven rebounds, six steals, four assists and three steals. Green Bay, the nation’s leader in blocked shots per game, swatted 11 shots and added 13 steals.
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