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LACEY, Wash. – There will be a new Great Northwest Athletic Conference champion.

Alaska Fairbanks used five players in double figures to defeat Montana State Billings 87-73 on Thursday night at Marcus Pavillion.

The Yellowjackets, the defending GNAC champions, finish 16-14.

The Nanooks, the No. 5 seed, advance to the Friday semifinals where they will play top-seeded Western Washington. The Vikings are the defending NCAA Division II national champions.

UAF (16-11) is the only team to beat Western Washington (26-1) this season. The Nanooks victory stopped the Vikings 30-game win streak.

In the other first round game, Mark McLaughlin swished a 3-pointer at the buzzer to lift Central Washington over Alaska Anchorage 79-78. The Wildcats trailed by as many 20 late in the first half. McLaughlin finished with a GNAC tournament record 32 points.

Central Washington will play No. 2 seed Seattle Pacific.

The winner of the GNAC tournament earns the league’s automatic berth in the NCAA Division II national tournament.

UAF used a first-half surge to lead 37-27 at halftime.

The Yellowjackets got within 10, 69-59, late in the second half but could not get any closer.

Jarrell Crayton posted a double-double for MSUB with a game-high 23 points and 13 rebounds. Crayton had 14 points in the first half.

Omar McDade added 17 points, while David Arnold finished with 16, all in the second half. MSUB was just 14 of 25 from the free throw line.

UAF had 10 players register points, led by Stefan Tica’s 17. Dominique Brinson added 13, while Ronnie Baker and Andrew Kelly had 11 each. Dallen Bills scored 10 for the Nanooks. Cody Pierson of Twin Bridges added five points for UAF, including a 3-pointer.

UAF shot 58 percent from the field for the game.

It is the first NCAA Division II post-season win for UAF head coach Mick Durham, who guided Division I Montana State to the Big Sky Conference championship and NCAA Tournament in 1996.

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