BELLINGHAM, Wash. – Junior center Liam Gibcus had a career night off the bench Saturday but the Alaska Anchorage men’s basketball team could never overtake longtime rival Seattle Pacific as the Falcons earned an 80-67 victory over the Seawolves in the NCAA Div. II West Regional Men’s Basketball Championships semifinals at Carver Gymnasium.
The nationally 16th-ranked and regionally 2nd-seeded Seawolves (23-7) also got a team-high 14 points off the bench from senior Lonnie Ridgeway in his final game in Green & Gold.
The Falcons (23-7), meanwhile, got a game-high 21 points and four assists from sophomore point guard David Downs as they advanced to Monday’s regional final against the winner of Western Washington and Chico State.
“It was a great season,” said UAA head coach Rusty Osborne, who has guided his program to five of the last seven NCAA Tournaments. “I couldn’t be more proud of a bunch of guys. Our bench guys just got in there and battled their tails off to keep us in the game – Liam Gibcus, Marcus Jackson, Lonnie Ridgeway. We battled the whole time just like we have all year. I couldn’t have been more proud of them than if we had won the game.”
Facing the rubber match against SPU – both teams had won at home in the regular season – the Seawolves never got untracked, falling behind 11-3 at the outset and trying to crawl back the rest of the way.
The Seawolves caught a tough break when Great Northwest Athletic Conference and Daktronics West Region Player of the Year Taylor Rohde picked up his second foul with less than three minutes expired in the first half.
Gibcus came to the rescue, however, with eight points and five rebounds in the opening 20 minutes, helping UAA trail just 33-30 at the half. The 6-10 junior from Australia finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds for his first career double-double, while adding three blocked shots.
But the Seawolves – who shot 60 percent in Friday’s first-round win over Montana State Billings – were held to just 37.3 percent (22 of 59) by the Falcons, including just 4 of 17 from three-point range.
Rohde – who finishes No. 11 on UAA’s all-time scoring list after just two seasons – played just 11 minutes in his final contest, posting five points and four rebounds before fouling out.
“Taylor Rohde took us on a great ride,” Osborne said. “He had a lot of stuff thrown at him all year, and he kept living up to every challenge. We’re so glad he chose to come to our program and his contributions will be remembered for a long time.
“They (the Seawolves) were a tremendous group all year long, showing tremendous class and effort, win or lose. Now we’ll get to work and try to recruit a couple more impact players and get ready for next year.”