No. 1 Seawolves run away with 26 point blowout over Saints

After outscoring Great Northwest Athletic Conference foe, St. Martin’s, 24-10 in the fourth quarter to secure win number 22, the Seawolves were in no rush for their lockers. Smiling and gesturing to fans, it was as if UAA was at its own political rally, and they had just delivered an awe-inspiring speech. One hundred feet away, their opponents were also slow to exit from the public’s eye, although instead of grins and laughs, the team from Lacey, Washington bore looks of exhaustion and fatigue, several nursing limps on their way into the tunnel.

The Seawolves (22-1, 9-1 GNAC) sent the Saints (5-12, 3-7 GNAC) packing with a 78-52 win Saturday night in front of 1,107 fans at the Alaska Airlines Center.

Alysha Devine tied her career-high of 19 points, Megan Mullings scored 10, and Adriana Dent had 5 steals to help UAA remain unbeaten at home this season. Saints Megan Wiedeman and Elin Johansson made the most of their combined seven trips to the free throw line, scoring 18 and 12 points respectively in a losing effort.

“In the second half we … did an excellent job of keeping our hands up, keeping people in front [on defense], just playing good fundamental basketball that way,” Coach Ryan McCarthy said. “I liked our energy and effort a lot better in the second half.”

The first half was a much closer game than UAA would have liked. After starting the game on a 9-2 run and going up 25-12 midway through the second quarter, the Seawolves got into foul trouble late in the half. Sophomore Sierra Afoa’s foul at 4:26 of the second quarter put the Saints into the bonus, which awards a team two free throws for every additional foul. The Saints, who shoot better than 70 percent from the line, scored 11 of 16 attempts in the first two quarters. At the half, St. Martin’s trailed UAA 35-29. McCarthy was visibly frustrated with some of the late foul calls from the sideline.

“One of the things we really talked about was limiting our fouls because this team was a very good free throw shooting team,” McCarthy said. “We just played into that and it caused the pace to slow down.”

The Seawolves would pick the pace back up in the third and fourth quarters, piling on the points. Many of UAA’s defensive rebounds translated into open offensive looks shortly thereafter. Point guards Kiki Robertson and Christina Davis used long rebounds and quick outlet passes to push the pace while simultaneously scanning the floor for open teammates.

St. Martin’s Elin Johansson picked up her fourth foul late in the third quarter and was forced to sit out the fourth, further hindering the Saints offense.

UAA’s Devine began heating up in fourth quarter, making several nice cuts to the basket for lay ups. The sophomore from Wasilla even showed her range from three on a straight away jumper from long range that put UAA up 70-44 at 5:05 of the fourth. By that time, McCarthy had pulled most of his starters from the game, including Jessica Madison (13 points) and Robertson (6 points, 6 assists).

UAA play at Alaska Fairbanks at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 26, and are headed to Billings, Montana to face the Montana State Yellowjackets on Saturday, Jan. 30.

Written by Nolin Ainsworth