ANCHORAGE – Senior guard Spencer Svejcar scored 24 points and Alaska Anchorage got its offense rolling in the second half Tuesday as the Seawolves earned a 76-63 men’s basketball victory over Alaska Fairbanks at the Alaska Airlines Center.
UAA (11-4, 5-2 Great Northwest Athletic Conference) also got 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists from senior guard Suki Wiggs, while senior guard Diante Mitchell had most of his 16 points late to help clinch the victory – the Seawolves’ fifth straight and 21st in the last 22 meetings against their lone in-state rival.
UAF (7-9, 2-5) was led by 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting from reserve guard Lorenzo Graham, but the Nanooks could not take advantage of 50 percent (12 of 24) three-point accuracy as a team, hitting just 10 of 35 (.286) inside the arc.
Playing the third of four games in an 8-day stretch, the Seawolves went seven minutes without a field goal in the first half, falling behind 23-16 with 5:11 on the clock. Senior center Connor Devine got to the free throw line for two of his nine points, and Svejcar poked away a steal that led to a Jackson McTier layup, however, starting a 14-4 surge to retake the lead at halftime.
UAF’s Nahjee Matlock connected on a three-pointer to put his team up 33-32 early in the second half before Svejcar responded with a layup and a trey on consecutive possessions, giving UAA the lead for good. The Seawolves pushed their largest edge to 55-42 on a jumper by Wiggs with 10 minutes left, but the Nanooks had one more run left, slicing it to 57-52 on a Matlock jumper at the 6:04 mark.
Svejcar drove the lane for another layup and Devine completed a traditional three-point play to double the lead, and Mitchell scored the final 12 points for UAA – all on layups and free throws.
Much of the Nanooks’ interior struggles were due to the defensive presence of Devine, who tied his career high with five blocks in the first half and set his new personal best with a crowd-pleasing, chase-down swat of Zach Pederson’s apparent breakaway layup with 5:31 remaining.
Coming off a combined 13-of-21 (6-11 3FGs) shooting performance in last week’s two road games, Svejcar connected on 10 of 15 shots against the Nanooks, including 8 of 9 inside the arc. The 6-3 wing from Arvada, Colo., scored his second-most points in a Seawolf uniform and matched his career-high seven rebounds, while dishing three assists with no turnovers in 37 minutes.
Meanwhile, Wiggs shot 6 of 12 and played 38 minutes, with his six assists matching a season high for the GNAC Preseason Player of the Year.
The Seawolves’ starters outscored their Nanook counterparts 68-36, while junior forward Augustus Simmers provided a big lift off the bench with six points (2-3 3FG), five rebounds, two assists and no turnovers in 22 minutes.
UAA completes its busy stretch Thursday with a road contest at Montana State Billings (9-5, 4-2 GNAC). That game tips at 5:30 p.m. AST and can be seen live on gnac.tv.
NOTES: Tuesday’s meeting was the 100th official series meeting between the intrastate rivals since both moved up to NCAA Div. II membership in the 1977-78 season … UAA leads the series 78-22 overall, 45-5 at home and 25-6 in GNAC meetings … in just his 47th career game, Wiggs moved up to No. 16 on the program’s all-time scoring list, now with 1,112 points; his 23.6 ppg scoring average is No. 2 all-time at UAA … Simmers had multiple assists for the first time in a Seawolf uniform; the former Anchorage Christian Schools standout played his freshman season in junior college and his sophomore campaign at fellow D-II program Malone.
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