Earlier this season, when Seattle Pacific University ended UAA’s winning streak of 25 home games, few thought that UAA would be able to return the favor.
But as the UAA men’s team quickly closed in on a regional championship in Anchorage, the UAA women’s team had just accomplished the unexpected.
After SPU had beaten UAA twice in the regular season, SPU’s crowd did not expect the Seawolves to outplay, outlast and outscore the nationally ranked second Falcons during the championship game of the West Regional.
On March 17, the UAA Seawolves ended rival SPU’s 26-0 home winning streak by thumping the Falcons 50-44, winning the West Region Division II championship game.
In the first half UAA outscored the Falcons 26-21, having out rebounded the Falcons 26-13. The teams continued trading baskets in the second half until the five-minute mark, tied at 40, when UAA went on a 10-4 point run that decided the game. The Seawolves ended the game with a steal by Maria Nilsson, a pair of foul shots from Rebecca Kielpinski and a layup by Kalhie Quinones – all in the last seven seconds.
After the win sank in, the Seawolves celebrated and cut down the nets.
“It’s hard to be humble about it, but when you are such rivals, it feels good to cut down the nets on their home courts,” Quinones said.
Quinones received Most Outstanding Player for the West Region Division II regional tournament after being the only Seawolf to reach double digits in the championship game with 14 points.
This is the first time the UAA women’s basketball team has been in the Elite Eight of Division II. UAA is the only college to win both the men and women’s West Regional Championship in the same year.
“For it to be a first, that’s a great accomplishment,” Quinones said, “and they really have what it takes to get a national championship as well.”
Although they could not be at the women’s championship game in Seattle, the Seawolf home crowd roared with excitement during the UAA men’s championship game as the announcer boomed the results: Alaska Anchorage 50, Seattle Pacific 44.
After March 17, the Seawolves felt like the excitement of their championship was over as they started to focus on the next step. That is, until they arrived at the Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage, where the team was surprised by an onslaught of their biggest fans and fellow students congratulating them.
“It’s really important for the fans to know how much we appreciate the following that we have,” Quinones said. “It feels like all of Anchorage is behind us.”
UAA will now move on to the Elite Eight, which is being held at the University of Nebraska Kearney. Their first matchup is on March 26 against Franklin Pierce University, who also came in to the Elite Eight by squashing their rival, Holy Family University.