LACEY, Wash. – Sophomore guard Brennan Rymer led a second-half comeback effort with 16 points and four assists but the Alaska Anchorage men’s basketball team came up just short Thursday in a 70-68 loss to 18th-ranked Saint Martin’s at Marcus Pavilion.
The Seawolves (7-6, 2-3 Great Northwest Athletic Conference) also got 14 points from junior forward Tyler Brimhall and 11 points apiece from Niko Bevens and Tobin Karlberg as they shot 54 percent in the second half and a season-best 94 percent from the foul stripe.
The Saints (11-2, 4-1) – the GNAC preseason coaches’ poll favorites – were led by 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting from reserve Jared Mathews, who did all of his damage in just 12 minutes.
“Although never happy with a loss, I thought our guys took another step forward,” said UAA head coach Rusty Osborne. “We were able to take a game plan defensively and offensively and execute it. Unfortunately we did not shoot well enough in the first half and early in the second.”
After leading 10-2 at the outset, the Seawolves fell victim to a 13-3 Saints run and trailed 27-20 at halftime.
SMU pushed its largest advantage to 44-28 with 14:47 remaining and led 57-44 with 7:58 on the clock before UAA began its late charge. Junior forward Sjur Berg converted back-to-back layups to cut the deficit to single digits, and Bevens and Karlberg connected on consecutive three-pointers to make it 63-59 with 3:53 left.
Another Bevens trey kept it a two-possession game at 68-64 with 43 seconds left, and the Seawolves finally got within a bucket at 68-66 when Rymer made two free throws with 8.1 seconds on the clock.
SMU forward Luke Chavez connected on two free throws, however, before Rymer finished the scoring on an uncontested layup with 1.2 seconds left. After a timeout, the Saints inbounded the ball and ran out the clock.
“I’m pleased that we continued to grind until shots started falling,” added Osborne. “We have another big test Saturday so we need to regroup, rest and prepare for a very good Seattle Pacific team.”
Rymer shot 5 of 9 from the field, including 2 of 3 from long range, and came one rebound shy of his career high with five, while logging a game-high 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, Karlberg had the second-best scoring effort of his young career as the true freshman from Grace Christian School shot 3 of 7 from the field and 4 of 4 at the free-throw line.
The Seawolves return to action Saturday at 3 p.m. AST against Seattle Pacific (7-3, 4-1) at Royal Brougham Pavilion. Check the GoSeawolves.com men’s basketball schedule page for links to live video and live stats.