ANCHORAGE – Hot-shooting guards Luke Chavez and EJ Boyce scored 19 points apiece Saturday to lead 19th-ranked Saint Martin’s to a 69-53 victory over Alaska Anchorage in Great Northwest Athletic Conference men’s basketball action at the Alaska Airlines Center.
The host Seawolves (12-10, 7-7 GNAC) were led by 16 points from forward Niko Bevens and 11 points and five rebounds from senior center Brian Pearson, but were outshot .481 to .357 in suffering their third straight loss.
The Saints (19-3, 12-2) got 8-of-11 shooting from Chavez – the GNAC Preseason Player of the Year – and 6-of-10 marksmanship from Boyce to break open a close game in the final 10 minutes. The duo combined to shoot 8 of 11 from three-point range as SMU retained its one-game lead over Northwest Nazarene atop the GNAC standings.
“We didn’t execute our defensive game plan very well, and they were able to get some open three-point looks that they took advantage of,” said UAA head coach Rusty Osborne. “Our jump shots were not going down either, and that makes it very tough against a talented opponent like Saint Martin’s.”
UAA cut an early 14-6 deficit down to a one point twice in the first half, and junior guard Jack Macdonald sank a three-pointer to keep the Seawolves within 25-23 with 2:53 on the clock. The Saints used a three-pointer from Chavez in the final seconds to go up 32-26 at the half.
The Seawolves opened the second-half scoring a layup by Pearson and pulled within 39-36 on a three-pointer from junior forward Tyler Brimhall, but they would get no closer.
Nursing a seven-point advantage with nine minutes remaining, the Saints used three straight three-pointers – two from Boyce and one from Chavez – to push the lead to 64-48, and the visitors from Lacey, Wash., capped a 11-0 run with two free throws by BJ Standley.
Brimhall finished with seven points and a game-high eight rebounds, while dishing a career-high five assists, and Macdonald collected seven points and five rebounds for UAA.
The Seawolves – who still hold down fifth place in the GNAC race – make their final regular-season road trip next week, beginning with a Thursday contest at second-place Northwest Nazarene (16-4, 11-3). That game tips at 5 p.m. AST and can be seen live online at gnac.tv.