With only three weekends left until the Great Northwest Athletic Championships, the UAA men’s basketball team hosted two teams at the Alaska Airlines Center for a two-game weekend. Northwest Nazarene and Central Washington traveled up to Alaska to play against the Seawolves.
Both teams fall in the middle of the GNAC standings, Northwest Nazarene at No. 6 with seven wins and seven losses in conference play before this weekend; Central Washington at No. 4, with eight conference wins and six losses, previously.
“They’re both a little bit different from the last time we played them, they’ve had some injuries, they’ve made some changes,” Head Coach Rusty Osborne said. “But I think we are a little bit different, we’ve mixed up our line up.”
Both teams rank higher than UAA, who currently sits at No. 8, with a total of 10 wins and 11 loses, 6 and 8 of which were conference play.
UAA has prevailed over both teams before. A year ago, during the 2016-17 season, the Seawolves managed an 8-point victory over NNU (81-73), and a 12 point win over CWU (84-72).
“February is always a tough month. You’ve gone through conference play one time so there aren’t a whole lot of secrets. We are right behind these two teams in the standings, we had overtime play with both of them about three weeks ago,” Osborne said.
The Seawolves began their weekend on Feb. 8 against Northwest Nazarene and gathered an 11-point win over NNU.
Senior guard Drew Peterson, junior forward Brian Pearson, junior guard Josiah Wood and junior guard Malik Clements made the largest contributions to the match.
Peterson was the highest scorer for the Seawolves, accumulating a total of 13 points, followed by 10 from Pearson and 9 each from Wood and Clements.
Pearson also finished the game off with a tie as the top-rebounder, managing to get 7 in, the same amount as D.J. Ursery.
As for 3-pointers, Peterson finished off the game with three, followed by Wood with two.
UAA spent nearly the entire game leading NNU. However, NNU did give the Seawolves quite a challenge in the second half, even outscoring them. With a 34.5 percent shot average and an accumulation of 33 total points, NNU came close to giving UAA a real scare.
“Each week and even each game I feel that, as a team, we are making strides in different areas, so we just have to take the best things from our [past] games and continue to have our energy every day,” Peterson said.
The Seawolves battled their rivals from Central Washington in a more laid-back game on Feb. 10. With a comfortable 16-point lead at the end, UAA took home the win at 70-54.
Wood was the top scorer on the Seawolves, accumulating a total of 19 points, including four 3-pointers.
Clements came through as the second-highest scorer with a total of 13 points, 8 of which were free throws. He was also the highest rebounder of the night, managing to make 12.
Both wins moved UAA up in the GNAC standings, giving them a better position than they’ve had for the majority of the season.
“Certainly we [wished] our record was better, but we have a chance to make conference and if we make that then we have a chance to make NCAA regionals so we [have been] preparing for that,” Osborne said.
The Seawolves will next travel to Washington and British Columbia to compete in their second to last weekend, Feb. 15-17, before conference championships.