IRVINE, Calif. – Senior guard Maleke Haynes had 13 points to lead a balanced scoring effort but the Alaska Anchorage men’s basketball team could not complete a late comeback Friday night, falling 73-66 to UC Irvine in an exhibition game at the Bren Events Center.
The Div. II Seawolves – picked to finish fourth in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference preseason poll – got double-figure scoring from all four of their Div. I transfers, led by Haynes’ 13-of-14 effort from the foul stripe. Guards Malik Clements and D.J. Ursery scored 12 points apiece, while senior center Jacob Lampkin had 11 points.
The Div. I Anteaters – picked to earn their fourth Big West Conference title in four seasons – were led by 18 points from Tommy Rutherford and 17 rebounds from fellow forward Jonathan Galloway.
UAA got a three-pointer from senior guard Drew Peterson on the game’s opening possession and led for the first 13 minutes, grabbing an 18-10 advantage on three Haynes free throws at the 10:13 mark. A long cold spell would cost the Seawolves, however, as UCI went on an 18-0 run to gain the lead for good.
The Anteaters pushed a 30-25 halftime advantage to as high as 65-47 with 6:53 left before the Seawolves made a last rally. UAA capped 13-2 run when Clements drove for an inside bank shot and Peterson followed with a transition layin to make it 67-60 with 2:52 remaining, and Hayes cut it to 69-64 when he made one of two free throws with 1:38 left.
A backcourt violation gave UAA a chance to make it a one-possession game, but Haynes’ straightaway three-point attempt came up short, and the Anteaters scored on their next two possessions.
“I was pleased with our effort tonight,” said UAA head coach Rusty Osborne. “This game was about learning how our group would respond to high-level competition. We made quite a few mistakes but continued to compete toe-to-toe for 40 minutes against a team picked to win their league. It was a great atmosphere – probably the most intense exhibition game I’ve been involved in in 30 years of coaching.”
Peterson finished with seven points on 3-of-3 shooting, while junior forward Brian Pearson blocked four shots. Both players are coming off redshirt campaigns in 2016-17.
Sophomore forward Curtis Ryan paced the Seawolves with seven rebounds.
The Seawolves finish their brief Southern California road swing Saturday when they face NAIA program Antelope Valley in the regular-season opener in Lancaster, Calif. Tip-off is 6 p.m. ADT. Check GoSeawolves.com for links to live video and stats.