FAIRBANKS – Powered by big nights from seniors Liam Gibcus and Abebe Demissie, the Alaska Anchorage men’s basketball team rallied Saturday night for a 65-60 victory over Alaska Fairbanks at the Patty Center.
The Seawolves (11-4, 4-3 GNAC) – who earned their third straight win – got 18 points, six rebounds and a career-high six assists from Gibcus, a 6-10 center, while Demissie finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds for his second career double-double.
Ronnie Baker led the Nanooks (10-5, 5-2) – who entered with a six-game win streak – with 15 points, and point guard Pat Voeut had 14 points and eight assists.
UAA trailed 32-25 at halftime before rallying for a 14th straight victory in the rivalry. Gibcus, the Seawolves’ only 4th-year senior, scored 14 of his points after the break and shot 8 of 14 from the floor before fouling out late.
“It was a really great defensive effort from our players,” said UAA coach Rusty Osborne. “They did a great job of overcoming the adversity of missing a key player, with multiple guys stepping up.”
The Seawolves were playing for the first time this season without second-leading scorer Teancum Stafford (12.6 ppg), who missed the game with an injury.
UAA trailed 36-27 early in the second half and 53-48 with 6:38 remaining when Gibcus went on a tear, outscoring the Nanooks 8-1 by himself over the next two minutes. Demissie followed with a three-pointer and made one of two free throws to put UAA up 60-54 at the 2-minute mark.
UAF twice cut its deficit to two in the final minute, but Seawolves junior guard Kyle Fossman sank four straight free throws to preserve the win.
Fossman finished with 11 points, playing all 40 minutes, and junior guard Mike MacKelvie provided a spark with seven points (3-5 FG) and seven rebounds off the bench.
UAA is back on the road next week for games at nationally 3rd-ranked and unbeaten Western Washington on Jan. 24 and at Simon Fraser on Jan. 26. Both contests tip at 6 p.m. AST and can be heard locally on FM-93.7 KAFC.
NOTES: The Seawolves have now won seven straight in Fairbanks and improved to 50 games over .500 (71-21) in the all-time series … Fossman went 1 of 2 from long range to extend his streak to 23 games with at least one three-pointer, marking the fourth-longest such string in program history … Gibcus topped his previous career-high of four assists, set as a freshman against Seattle Pacific (3/6/10) … Demissie matched his career rebounding high and came one point short of a career-best scoring night … Demissie was 7 of 8 from the free throw line after entering the game just 18 of 36 from the stripe … MacKelvie grabbed five of his rebounds on the offensive end to help UAA to an 40-29 edge on the boards.