Seawolves eke past Crusaders, 73-72
ANCHORAGE – Liam Gibcus and Teancum Stafford scored
17 points apiece and the Alaska Anchorage men’s basketball team survived a
last-second shot by Northwest Nazarene to escape the Wells Fargo Sports Complex
with a 73-72 victory Saturday night.
The Seawolves (14-5, 7-4 GNAC) also got 15 points from senior guard Kyle Fossman as they won for the sixth time in seven games and moved into sole possession of third place in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
The Crusaders (9-10, 3-8) got 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting from reserve guard Jordan Nicholes, while starting point guard Kenny Jones had 14 points, seven assists and four steals, but the Nampa, Idaho, club lost by one point for the second game in a row.
UAA trailed 42-31 late in the first half before closing the stanza with a 7-0 run, including four points from Gibcus. However, Fossman, who was scoreless at halftime, exploded for eight points in the first three minutes after the break, and the Seawolves would not trail again.
After NNU tied it 57-57 on Nicholes layup at the 11:47 mark, UAA used another 7-0 spurt to retake the advantage, and Jalen Little made it 70-60 on a driving layup with 7:06 to play.
The Seawolves would score only one more field goal the rest of the way, though, when Stafford converted a traditional three-point play for a 73-67 lead with 1:03 left.
Leading 73-69 a few moments later, Stafford was called for a foul on Grayson Moore’s corner three-point attempt, and the 6-6 sophomore guard coolly sank all three charities.
Nicholes then stole the ball from Stafford and got it to Kevin Rima, who was fouled with 11 seconds showing. In the double bonus, the NNU forward missed both free throws hard off the back iron, and UAA’s Abebe Demissie grabbed the rebound. Demissie was hacked with 7.5 seconds, but the senior could not convert the front end of the one-and-one. NNU’s Jonathan Hawkins raced downcourt and got the ball to Rima, whose shot bounced away at the buzzer.
UAA also got 12 points and a pair of steals from freshman forward Christian Leckband, while junior guard Colton Lauwers dished a career-high nine assists.
“We probably played our worst game of the year, but I thought our effort really improved after halftime,” said UAA head coach Rusty Osborne. “In the end, we did just enough things to hold on against an opponent that deserves a lot of credit.”
The Seawolves outrebounded the Crusaders 23-11 after the break, although NNU’s bench outscored UAA’s 29-9, getting all of its points from Nicholes and Shayne Perryman (12 pts).
Gibcus, a 6-10 senior center, shot 5 of 8 from the field, made all seven of his free throws, and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds. Stafford shot 3 of 5 from three-point range, and Fossman nailed three treys in the second half to extend his streak to 27 consecutive games with at least one three-pointer.
The win avenges a 61-60 setback to the Crusaders in Idaho last month and gives UAA a one-game lead over both Central Washington and Alaska Fairbanks in the GNAC standings with seven to play.
The Seawolves are back on the road next week for games at Saint Martin’s (Thur., Feb. 7, 6:30 p.m. AST) and Western Oregon (Sat., Feb. 9, 3:15 p.m. AST).
NOTES: The victory clinches a winning record for the Seawolves for the eighth straight season … Fossman’s three-point streak matches Mark Drake (1/10/02 to 1/18/03) for the third-longest in program history; Jim Hajdukovich (11/8/96 to 11/27/97) is next on the list at 32 … Gibcus played his 104th career game, tying former teammate Lonnie Ridgeway for No. 11 on the program list … Gibcus also collected his 75th win in a Seawolf uniform, one shy of Seawolf Hall-of-Famer Hansi Gnad for fifth on that list.