Baby, it’s cold outside, but the UAA women’s basketball team knows how to keep things warm.
Despite a roaring crowd, the women would be unable to defeat nationally second-ranked Seattle Pacific Falcons on Feb. 9. In the process, the Falcons would disrupt the Seawolves’ 29-game Anchorage winning streak.
Although the Seawolves led the Falcons by 16 points for part of the first half, the second half was back and forth, ending in a last-minute possession. Seattle Pacific scored their winning points with ten seconds left to go, leaving the bitter taste of a 78-77 loss with the Seawolves.
In the second half alone, the lead switched between the Seawolves and the Falcons nine times, with five of those coming in the last five minutes. UAA even beat Seattle Pacific’s shooting percentage all around, but in an aggressive game between the two top GNAC teams, defense was the key.
“I just feel incredibly lucky,” said Seattle Pacific’s head coach Julie van Beek. “But I’m also really proud of our kids, because we got on our heels but we came back and were able to out-rebound the team that leads the conference in rebounding.”
The Falcons were led in rebounding by Kelsey Hill, an All Region honors holder, and Megan Hoisington, both with six rebounds each. Eight out of ten of the Falcons pulled down at least two rebounds, altogether finishing with 35 as a team.
But after a day of rest, the Seawolves would come back to face off against the Northwest Nazarene Crusaders. Despite a tired-looking first half, the Seawolves kicked it into gear for the remainder of the game. Led by Ruby Williams’ intensity both offensively and defensively in the second half, the Seawolves came out with a 69-55 win over the Crusaders.
The Seawolves had trouble finding their rhythm during the first half, allowing seven turnovers, and shot only 33 percent from the field and 20 percent from beyond. However, UAA turned the intensity knob up to 11 in the second half, cutting turnovers down and upping their field-goal percentage to 50 and more than doubling their three-point percentage to 66.
“Coach came in and told us that we needed to pick it up,” junior forward Williams said. “We were out there working hard; we just needed to step up and control the drive.”
In spite of the very physical game against the Crusaders, Williams grabbed a team high of 10 rebounds and added 16 points.
The Crusaders also felt the physicality of the game but weren’t going out without a fight. Northwest Nazarene scored 19 of their points from free throws while racking up 21 fouls. They were led in scoring and rebounding by forward Nichole Schutte, who had 13 points and 15 rebounds.
Kalhie Quinones, who added 12 points during Saturday’s showing, did not allow the rough-and-tumble game to bother her.
“I think the more I get bumped, the more focused I am,” she said. “I think it’s just the way I was brought up, playing with my dad and my brother and my sister, so it helps.”
During the Northwest Nazarene game, UAA head coach Tim Moser did his best to keep the team fresh by rotating most of the players.
“I don’t want to make excuses, but there’s no doubt I think we were emotionally drained from Thursday’s loss,” he said. “We knew we needed to keep our kids fresh.”
Despite the loss to Seattle Pacific, the game propelled Rebecca Kielpinski into the record books once again. Before Saturday night’s game, the star center was awarded the Top Career Rebounder Award with a total of 767 rebounds. Over the course of two games she pulled down 16 total rebounds.
For the Seawolves, the win capped a physical weekend against two of UAA’s toughest conference foes.
“It’s going to be hard coming to a game like this, especially after a tough loss to Seattle Pacific,” Quinones said. “We knew we had a challenge with Northwest Nazarene – they are a really great team. They are probably one of the hardest-working teams, and it’s always hard to hear from your coach that another team might be one of the teams that works harder than you. But then you just have to get out there and be the tougher team.”