BELLINGHAM, Wash. – Junior guard Jack Macdonald scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half and freshman Travis Adams dished a career-high eight assists Saturday to lift the Alaska Anchorage men’s basketball team to a critical 70-63 victory over Western Washington at Carver Gymnasium.
The Seawolves (11-7, 6-4 Great Northwest Athletic Conference) also got 14 points from sophomore point guard Brennan Rymer – including six straight free throws in the final 37 seconds – to earn their fourth straight win and move into a tie for fourth place in the GNAC standings. Saturday marks the midpoint in the league schedule, with the top six teams earning bids to the GNAC Tournament in March.
The Vikings (11-9, 5-5) got a game-high 20 points and eight rebounds from forward Trevor Jasinsky and 14 points from reserve guard Tucker Eenigenberg, but they were outshot .480 to .386 from the field and .455 (10 of 22) to .368 (7 of 19) from long range.
“After the first two minutes I thought we really dialed in with our game plan defensively,” said UAA head coach Rusty Osborne, whose squad fell behind 6-0 after a pair of quick three-pointers by the Vikings. “We were able to limit their three-point attack, which is a big part of their offense. On the other end, the guys did a good job executing one of our secondary offenses. It was a good win, especially since we have a number of guys battling a virus.”
The Seawolves took their first lead when freshman Tobin Karlberg stole the ball and fed Adams for a breakaway layup to make it 10-9 after nine minutes. Six ties and six lead changes later, UAA took the advantage for good when Sjur Berg grabbed another steal and assisted on a layup by Macdonald, who had been scoreless to that point.
Western Washington scored the first four points after the halftime break to slice its deficit to 35-34, but Macdonald answered with a three-pointer, and the lead slowly grew to 55-43 when Macdonald and junior forward Tyler Brimhall combined to score 12 straight Seawolf points.
After the Vikings applied full-court pressure and made it a two-possession game with three minutes left, Adams delivered his most impressive assist of the night, finding senior center Brian Pearson for a wide-open layup that increased the lead to 64-57 with 43 seconds left.
Western Washington nailed back-to-back three-pointers to keep it close, but Rymer would seal the victory from the charity stripe.
“I’m proud of Travis for staying ready after not playing Thursday (in a 74-53 win at Simon Fraser),” Osborne added of the former all-state selection from Barrow High School. “Our entire bench contributed nicely today, even if the stats don’t show it.”
Adams also finished with six points on 3-of-4 shooting, three rebounds and just one turnover, logging 25 minutes. Macdonald shot 6 of 11 overall and 3 of 5 from long range, while junior forward Niko Bevens scored all 12 of his points in the opening half, shooting 4 of 8 from deep.
Brimhall – UAA leading scorer who missed much of the first half with two fouls – finished with 11 points and three rebounds.
The Seawolves return south next week when they face Concordia-Portland on Thursday (6 p.m. AST) and defending GNAC champ Western Oregon on Saturday (2 p.m. AST). Both games can been seen live online at gnac.tv.