BILLINGS, Mont. – Senior swingman D.J. Ursery paced for players in double figures with 16 points Saturday to lead the Alaska Anchorage men’s basketball team to a 59-52 victory over Montana State Billings at Alterowitz Gymnasium.
The Seawolves (15-13, 11-9 Great Northwest Athletic Conference) also got 12 points, five rebounds, two blocks and two assists from junior center Brian Pearson as they clinched the program’s 13th consecutive winning season. UAA had already clinched its spot in the upcoming GNAC Tournament – Mar. 1-3 at its own Alaska Airlines Center.
Following losses by Seattle Pacific and Central Washington later Saturday, UAA finishes tied with SPU for fourth in the final league standings. SPU will gain the No. 4 seed by virtue of a tiebreaker and face the 5th-seeded Seawolves on Thursday's 2:15 p.m. quarterfinal game. The winner of the UAA-SPU game will then play top-seeded Western Oregon in Friday's 2:15 p.m. semifinal.
The Yellowjackets (13-18, 5-15) were led by 12 points from reserve guard Sven Jueschede, but the hosts shot just 33 points and earned only seven trips to the free-throw line, where they were outscored 15-5. Kendall Denham added 10 points and eight rebounds for the hosts, whose season came to an end.
Juniors Malik Clements and Josiah Wood finished with 11 points apiece and combined for 10 rebounds as the Seawolves had to play without starting senior guard Drew Peterson, who was injured in shootaround earlier in the day.
“I’m extremely proud of this group and the way that they have battled through adversity and a challenging schedule the last two weeks,” said UAA head coach Rusty Osborne, whose program also earned a winning GNAC record for the eighth straight year. “We were running on fumes coming into the game, and to lose Drew this afternoon was a big loss. This was a great team win. D.J. was locked in from the start, and his teammates hung in there and got better as the game progressed. Our defense once again carried us home.”
Ursery gave UAA a 29-28 edge with a jumper at the end of the first half, marking the 11th lead change in the opening 20 minutes. The advantage would change twice more when Pearson opened the second half with five straight points, giving UAA the lead for good, 34-32, on a layup at the 15:30 mark.
The Yellowjackets shaved an eight-point deficit down to 44-42 with nine minutes left, but Josiah Wood scored six straight points, making it 52-44 on a three-pointer with 5:45 to play.
Clements sealed the win when he converted a putback of Ursery’s miss at the 1-minute mark for a 57-50 lead.
For GNAC Tournament tickets, call 907-786-1562 or visit GoSeawolves.com or AlaskaAirlinesCenter.com.