FAIRBANKS – Senior D.J. Ursery recorded a double-double and nailed the game-winning jumper with one second remaining Tuesday to lift Alaska Anchorage to a 44-43 victory over Alaska Fairbanks at the Patty Center in a critical Great Northwest Athletic Conference men’s basketball game.
The Seawolves (14-13, 10-9 GNAC) got 14 points and 10 rebounds from Ursery, plus 10 points on perfect shooting from sophomore guard Jack Macdonald, as they swept the season series and earned the inside track for a berth in the upcoming conference tournament.
The Nanooks (10-15, 8-11) were led by 15 points from guard Kimble Davis, plus 10 points and 10 rebounds from forward Michael Kluting, in a game that featured three ties and eight lead changes, and no lead larger than six points for either team.
“It was a great effort by our guys to grind out a win on a night where we were not our best,” said UAA head coach Rusty Osborne, whose team is attempting to qualify for the GNAC Tournament for an eighth straight time since its inception in 2011. “I give UAF credit for making it tough on us. It was a physical game and hard for anyone to get in rhythm.”
UAA held the hosts without a point for the first six and a half minutes but led just 19-18 at halftime. UAF’s Jalon McCullough gave his team a 23-21 advantage with a layup early in the second half, and the Nanooks clung to their lead until Ursery’s dramatic shot in the waning moments.
Trailing 43-38, Macdonald converted a layup, and junior center Brian Pearson banked in a turnaround jumper to draw within a point with 2:23 remaining.
Despite three missed opportunities, the Seawolves got their final chance when freshman point guard Brennan Rymer corralled a defensive rebound on Joe Lendway’s missed three-pointer with 29 seconds showing. Lendway was called for a non-shooting foul with nine seconds left, forcing UAA to improvise with an out-of-bounds play. The Seawolves got the ball to their leading scorer, and Ursery drained the game-winner with his foot on the three-point line.
The Nanooks called timeout but could not convert a desperation heave from midcourt in the final tick.
“We were able to get some big stops late and Jack made some big shots before D.J. hit the game-winner,” Osborne added. “We are a tired team, so we’ll try to get some rest before going to Billings to end this road trip of 8,000 miles, three states, three times zones and two countries in eight days.”
Macdonald shot 4 of 4 from the field and made his only two free throws, while Pearson came through in the clutch with eight points and a pair of key blocks late in the game. Ursery grabbed three steals, and senior guard Drew Peterson was the only other Seawolf with more than one field goal, finishing with five points.
With the win, the Seawolves need a win in Saturday’s regular-season finale at Montana State Billings (5 p.m. AST on gnac.tv) or a loss by Northwest Nazarene in one of its last two games to clinch one of the six berths in the Mar. 1-3 GNAC Championships.
UAA’s victory was by far the lowest-scoring affair in the 103-game history of the series, which dates to 1977. The previous lowest-scoring game was a 56-42 UAA road win on Feb. 6, 2010, while the Seawolves’ 65-39 win over the Nanooks earlier this year in Anchorage now becomes the third-lowest point total.
The Seawolves earned their eighth straight win in the series and 24th in the last 25 meetings against their lone intrastate rival. UAA has won four straight in Fairbanks and now lead the all-time series 83-20.