UAA honored two seniors on Saturday in what was an entertaining matchup against No. 1 Western Oregon Wolves (23-3, 16-2 GNAC). Brian McGill and Christian Leckband had their career’s celebrated as family members joined them on the court for a brief moment of recognition.
The Wolves crashed the party though, stealing a 64-58 win on the road.
Leckband, an Alaskan grown player, has been with the program for five years since becoming a redshirt freshman in 2011.
“I love him as a person and he is a credit to Nome and to his family. He is going to be a great man in this community,” said head coach Rusty Osborne.
Leckband has stepped on the court in 112 career games for the Seawolves, which places him inside the top-10 on UAA’s all-time games played list. His experience and dedication shaped him into a vital role player each year. With his sharp shooting, he is ranked in the top 20 on the program’s all-time three-pointers made list. This season, he is third on the team in rebounds and has suited up for every game. As for his future, Leckband is graduating from UAA with two degrees in management and marketing.
McGill has also had a storied career in his time with the Seawolves.
“He has been a great player for this program and is really leaving his mark,” said Osborne.
McGill’s leadership, poise, and determination has landed him on many all-time stat lists for UAA. He is second in assists, in the top 15 in points, fifth in free throws made, while his three-point shooting percentage is in the top 12 (as of Feb. 16).
“He is very talented,” said Osborne. “If he wants to, he has a chance to play professionally when he gets through here.”
This season, McGill leads the team in assists, steals, and free throw percentage. He is also second on the team in points per game, posting a career-high 34 points against Simon Fraser.
Both players will be remembered for years to come. They soaked in the moment while they could, but knew there was work to be done on the court.
Western Oregon began the game with quick back-to-back three-pointers and took an early 8-0 lead. UAA fired back, spraying three treys of their own, but were getting pummeled on the glass.
Overall, the first half was an ugly shooting performance on both sides. The two teams combined to shoot just 4 of 23 in a stretch that held WOU scoreless for over five minutes of play.
The Seawolves took their first lead of the game late in the half and went to the locker room at the break leading 26-23.
The two teams started the half trading buckets, causing nine lead changes in just seven minutes. UAA’s top scoring duo Suki Wiggs and McGill amounted for 19 of the team’s 21 points to help keep them in the game.
Western Oregon took the lead back 58-56 with only 1:39 remaining after senior Devon Alexander nailed a step-back three.
Seawolf forward Corey Hammell (11 points, 9 rebounds) had a put-back lay up with 13 seconds to go, cutting WOU’s lead to two points. After Western Oregon guard Julian Nichols hit a pair of free throws, UAA junior Drew Peterson missed a three-pointer, all but ending the game. The Seawolves made just one out of their final eight shots down the stretch, which makes it hard to win against any team, let alone the No.1 team in the country.
“They are more committed to winning than we are,” coach Osborne said in his opening statement. “You can’t make the mental mistakes that we made. They didn’t, that’s why they won. We did, that’s why we lost. Period.”
Suki Wiggs finished with a game-high 22 points, while McGill chipped in 15 points and six assists. Western Oregon’s Nichols tallied with 17 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists. His teammate Tanner Omlid stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, eight rebounds, six assists, and two steals.
McGill, Leckband, and the rest of the Seawolves are now in a second-place tie with Alaska Fairbanks in the conference, with UAA holding the tiebreaker. The Green and Gold play their final two regular season games on the road against Northwest Nazarene on Thursday, and Central Washington the following Saturday.