After eight months with no competition, rigorous training and adapting to new team members, the UAA men’s basketball team kicked off the season on Nov. 2 and Nov. 3.
With the addition of new members and a successful previous season, the Seawolves were named No. 5 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference preseason poll just before the start of their season.
Previously, the Seawolves finished the 2017-18 season tied for fourth place in GNAC with a overall 15-14 record and 11-9 record. The .517 overall win percentage was the second lowest that head coach Rusty Osborne has experienced in his 14 years at UAA; however, UAA has revamped their roster for the current season.
Five letter-winning Seawolves have returned to the team, as well as two newcomers with Division I experience and three Alaskan freshmen. The dynamics of the team proved to be successful already in the beginning of their season.
Despite being the first game of the season, Osborne explained that although they may look disorganized at first and be still adapting to the new crew, the team has been ready for competition for a while.
On Nov. 2, the Seawolves hosted NAIA Division I team, Antelope Valley, from Lancester, California.
As the season opener, the Seawolves won the game with a score of 82, a respectable lead over the Pioneer’s final tally of 73.
Of that 82, junior transfer Tyler Brimhall accumulated 25 of those points, an impressive 30 percent of the total. The 6-foot-5-inch forward not only scored the most points on both teams, but he also scored the first points of the game, less than a minute after starting.
Just behind Brimhall in total points accumulated was Jack Macdonald. The junior guard scored 20 points, four of them being 3-pointers, seven field goals and two free throws.
“I definitely felt a lot more comfortable this year with knowing what [Osborne] wants and expects,” Macdonald said. “[Osborne] has been clear to the whole team about what he wants us to do, so it was just a matter of us going out there and doing our jobs.”
Next was junior forward Niko Bevens with 16 points.
Overall, the Seawolves posted a successful first half, scoring 41 points over the Pioneer’s 30 points.
In the first half, the Seawolves had a 48.4 percent success rate on their field goals. In contrast, Antelope Valley only had a 37.9 percent success rate. Similarly, in the second half, both teams had nearly the exact same success rate.
However, the second half proved to be more successful for the Pioneers and less for the Seawolves. Antelope Valley scored 43 points with a 87.5 percent success in their free throws.
Just less than that, the Seawolves posted 41 points in the second half.
“We are happy with the performance in some ways, but in other ways we know that we have a lot of things to work on. But we were moving the ball, were pretty unselfish and had some guys who can shoot,” Osborne said.
The Seawolves and the Pioneers met back on the court to compete for a second time on Saturday, Nov. 3.
In an opposite start to the game, both teams played the majority of the first half toggling in the lead. Just halfway through and the score died at 18 points, 10 of which were scored by UAA’s Brimhall.
Slowly, with the help of junior forward Sjur Berg and sophomore guard Keenan Dowell, the Seawolves began to distance their score from the Pioneers.
By halftime, the Seawolves were up just seven points, 36-29, with the majority accumulated by Brimhall.
Moving through the second half, Brimhall continued to excel, propelling the Seawolves further into their lead. By the end of the game, Brimhall accumulated 27 points, two more than a day prior.
Trailing behind him again was Bevens with a total of 14 points.
With both their joint effort, along with various others’, the Seawolves defended their win-streak against Antelope Valley with a final score of 73-65.
Despite their win, both teams had an equivalent 43 percent field goal rate and 81 percent free throw rate.
However, the Seawolves managed six more steals, four more assists and five more 3-pointers than their competitors.
The Seawolves will go undefeated into their next game against Fresno State on Tuesday, Nov 6.
For a full schedule and game results visit www.goseawolves.com.