Seawolves defend top spot against Vikings

UAA junior guard Sasha King defende against a Western Washington Viking on Feb. 9. Photo by Specer Mitchell /TNL

The Seawolf Women’s Basketball team extended its lead in Great Northwest Athletic Conference standings over the Western Washington Vikings with their 72-50 win over WWU on Feb. 9 at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex.

This win kept the Vikings from trying to unseat the Seawolves from their No. 1 spot in the GNAC within the next couple of games and all but locked up the regular season GNAC title for the Seawolves.

“Defense is the most important part of the game,” said freshman guard Gritt Ryder. “We let off on some important areas today and that’s not good enough, even though we won by a lot.”

UAA came out to play in the first half with defensive intensity and quickly jumped out to a 17-2 lead with a few steal-to-points conversions. The game soon turned into run-and-gun plays and the second half looked more like a “playing not to lose” style according to UAA Head Coach Tim Moser.

The Seawolves prepared for a tough psychological battle before this game and knew that, with their top spot on the line, the Vikings would be bringing their all.

“That’s what we talked about before this game, we knew that people were coming in and bringing their emotions,” Moser said. “If we just match it early with tenacity, with our effort and work load, that’ll go away and that emotion will turn sour on them pretty quickly.”

The battle was evident on the court with both teams playing controlled but aggressive defense.

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“You just got to stay focused, you got to take their aggression and their emotion and make it play against them,” said junior guard Sasha King. “They came out and got on center court before the game started and you know that’s just added fuel.”

The Seawolves succeeded in keeping their heads in the game and kept their 20+ winning point average up as well. Even so, the whole team has been working on putting in their full 40 minutes of defense in preparation for the GNAC and West Region postseasons coming up in March.

“We’re a good team but we always know we have stuff to work on. Like Coach said, we haven’t put a full game together on defense,” King said, who came out of the game with eight assists, three steals and a block. “We’re confident if we do the little things on defense then everything will flow with it.”

King now ranks the first in GNAC for assists per game.

The little things like moving the ball on offense, encourage each other and box out are what make the difference in games according to Ryder, who had five rebounds and five assists against the Vikings.

Having started 24 games this season, Ryder is also on track for recording the highest number of games started for a UAA freshman, which is 28.

“I think that they know now that if they are engaged they can beat a lot of teams,” Moser said. “I’m hoping that they figure out that our defensive intensity kind of makes our offense look better, we live off of it.

“If we just do the little things, the offense runs a little more smoothly so that’s what we’re trying to do with our kids.”

The Seawolves will be on the road this week and look to move closer to officially clinching the GNAC title when they take on St. Martin’s and Western Oregon on Feb. 16 and 18, respectively. They will end their home games with a game against Alaskan rival University of Alaska Fairbanks on Feb. 25 at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex.