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Courtesy: Daniel Berman

Men bounce Billings in 1st Round, 80-68

Courtesy: UAA Media Relations
Release: 03/09/2012
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BELLINGHAM, Wash. – Senior center Taylor Rohde tied his career high with 32 points Friday to lead nationally 16th-ranked Alaska Anchorage to an 80-68 victory over Montana State University Billings in Game 2 the NCAA Division II West Regional Men’s Basketball Championships at Sam Carver Gymnasium.

The Seawolves, the No. 2 seed, improved to 23-6 and avenged a loss to the Yellowjackets in last Saturday’s Great Northwest Athletic Conference Tournament championship game.

UAA moves on to play league rival and 3rd-seeded Seattle Pacific in Saturday’s first regional semifinal at 4 p.m. AST. SPU was a 70-68 winner earlier Friday over Pacific West Conference champion Dixie State.

Montana State Billings (18-12) – which pulled three upsets last week to win the GNAC tourney title and qualify for NCAAs – was led by 29 points and eight rebounds from forward Robert Mayes.

UAA never trailed after two Rohde free throws put the Seawolves ahead 10-8 with 13:40 left in the first half, but never had the game securely in its grasp until the final moments. The Seawolves’ biggest lead until the final minute was 11 points.

After grabbing a 32-26 lead at halftime, UAA got a three-pointer by Kyle Fossman early in the second half to go up 44-33 with 15:33 remaining.

MSUB climbed back to within three, first at 48-45 and then later at 50-47, but All-GNAC second-team guard Travis Thompson hit a trey to put UAA ahead 53-47 with 10:58 remaining.

UAA led 67-62 with 4:07 left when Rohde – the GNAC and Daktronics West Region Player of the Year – quickly re-established a more comfortable advantage with the next six points, and the Seawolves went on to win their first-round game for the second straight year.

Guard Colton Lauwers nailed his third trey of the game in the clinching run, and Thompson finished with eight points and four rebounds. Lauwers – a sophomore transfer from Adams State – matched his career-high with four assists and committed no turnovers in 23 minutes.

In addition to Rohde, who reached 30 points for the third time in six career games against MSUB, UAA also got 18 points from Fossman, who made four of six treys, and 10 from senior point guard Steve White.

Senior guard Antoine Proctor joined Mayes in double figures for MSUB with 13 points. Proctor also had nine rebounds and seven assists.

UAA blistered the nets at a 60 percent pace, making 27 of 45, including 10 of 17 from the arc.

“Anytime you shoot close to 60 percent you’re going to win most of those,” UAA coach Rusty Osborne said. “Taylor (Rohde) did a good job inside and our guards showed a lot of poise every time Billings made a run.”

Rohde, who played a UAA season-high 38 minutes, shot 11 of 18 from the field and 10 of 11 at the free-throw line. The Arizona State transfer also grabbed 11 rebounds for his second straight double-double and ninth this season. In just 63 career games, the All-America candidate has now moved up to No.11 on UAA’s all-time scoring list with 1,138 points.

“You have to credit Anchorage, they were, by far, the better team today,” MSUB first-year coach Jamie Stevens said. “Taylor Rohde played like the all-region player he is. We didn’t have an answer for him. We tried to do a couple of things differently defensively on him, but he’s just hard to stop one-on-one.”

The Seawolves, who were knocked out in the second round last year by eventual NCAA D-II runner-up BYU-Hawaii, get another shot Saturday when they face SPU at 4 p.m. AST. The game will be the rubber match between the longtime rivals, with each team having won at home during the GNAC regular season.

It will also be the first-ever neutral-court meeting for UAA and SPU, who have played 62 times since 1977-78. The Seawolves and Falcons have met just once in the NCAAs, with the Seawolves taking a 56-55 thriller over the Falcons in Anchorage in the 2008 West Regional semifinals.



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