Halftime text message inspires senior on historic night for Northwest Nazarene

Students storm court after Northwest Nazarene's historic win

The Northwest Nazarene women's basketball team upset Alaska Anchorage 104-78 to move into a tie for the GNAC regular-season title, a program first.
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The Northwest Nazarene women's basketball team upset Alaska Anchorage 104-78 to move into a tie for the GNAC regular-season title, a program first.

Lexi Tubbs checked her cellphone at halftime and received some good news.

The joy over that text message followed the Northwest Nazarene senior guard right back onto the court Thursday at the Johnson Sports Center and led to a historic night for the women’s basketball team.

Tubbs scored a game-high 26 points as the unranked Nighthawks pummeled No. 4 Alaska Anchorage 104-78 to move into a tie for first place in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference standings with one regular-season game remaining.

Since they joined the GNAC in 2001, the Nighthawks (21-3, 17-2) never have finished better than third.

“Three nights ago I got the phone call that (my dad) was in the emergency room, so I’ve been keeping in touch all day and my coaches have been amazing. They have let me take a breath when I needed to, and I’ve been able to just step out when I needed to,” Tubbs said. “Just having that connection on our team and just that trust, I think that allowed me to play well tonight, because I know that they all have my back no matter what, and I just felt so loved this entire week.”

The halftime text message let Tubbs know her father, Mike Tubbs, had been moved out of intensive care.

“Things are looking up,” said Tubbs, who only said that her father was “very sick.”

NNU led just 46-44 at halftime, and the Nighthawks’ leading scorer (Tubbs) was limited to three points.

But a weight was visibly lifted from Tubbs in the second half. She got the Nighthawks going with a 3-pointer in the opening minute and finished 5-for-9 from 3-point range as NNU connected on a program-record 16 triples.

“We told her, ‘If you need to go home, you can leave in the middle of a game, walk off the court and go home,’ ” Northwest Nazarene coach Steve Steele said. “ ‘If you need to be with dad, that is so much more important than this.’ I think that helps her be relaxed, because she doesn’t have to feel the pressure of performing and being there for both her family and her basketball family.”

With her basketball family behind her and her dad watching online from his hospital bed in Turlock, Calif., Tubbs will play her final home game as a Nighthawk at 7 p.m. Saturday against Alaska Fairbanks. If the Nighthawks win, they’ll claim the first GNAC title in program history and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament, ending Alaska Anchorage’s run of four straight titles.

They’d do so despite four coaching changes in four seasons.

“We didn’t have anybody transfer out, and I think just knowing that we were meant to be here and just listening, just trusting that we were in the right place, that makes all the difference,” Tubbs said. “This is a tight group of girls.”

NNU returned 13 players from last season and has translated its veteran roster into a 12-game winning streak and 21 wins — both marks are the best in NNU history since joining the Division II ranks.

After Thursday’s dominant win over Anchorage, there should be more good news to come — for the Nighthawks and Tubbs.

“We just came out and trusted every single person on the court at every single moment that the ball was in play,” Tubbs said. “I think that makes all the difference. The trust on this team is amazing.”

BSU track sets indoor mark

Boise State’s Sadi Henderson, Chelsea Walker, Alexis Fuller and Allie Ostrander won the Mountain West indoor track and field title in the women’s distance medley relay for the third consecutive season Thursday in Albuquerque, N.M.

The Broncos’ time of 11 minutes, 5.39 seconds set a school record, Mountain West championship record and Albuquerque Convention Center facility record and is the third-fastest time in Mountain West history.

The time also converts to 10:55.32 based on altitude, giving the Broncos the fastest time in the nation this season, and placing them in good position to earn a bid to the national championships in March.

Rachel Roberts: 208-377-6422, @byrachelroberts