UAA’s men’s basketball saw two big games between the Western Washington Vikings on Feb. 5 and the Seattle Pacific Falcons on Feb. 7, earning themselves a split after losing to the Vikings, 69-54, and bouncing back to come up with a 66-62 win against the Falcons.
After coming off a big win against in-state rivals UAF the week before at home, the Seawolves could not keep the Western Washington Vikings at bay on Feb. 5. The top team in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference proved to be too much for the Seawolves in the end as they lost to WWU, 69-54, at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex.
The Vikings quickly got out to leads of 6-0 and 18-6 in the first half however the Seawolves showed their resilience, finding themselves down 28-27 at half. They brought the crowd of 894 to its feet as they went to the locker room.
Upon returning to the court, however, the Vikings quickly started to pull away. WWU started the second half with a 14-4 run in the first 4:29 of the second half. The Seawolves hung around and got it back to with 6 points on three occasions but in the end, the effort wasn’t enough.
“We were soft mentally tonight” said UAA coach Rusty Osbourne. “You’re not going to beat a good team without passion.”
With UAA shooting 50 percent and WWU hitting 49 percent of their shots both teams shot the ball well but the Seawolves’ deficit came with their three point shooting. UAA only sank one of seven treys, their only bucket coming courtesy of Kenny Barker with less than a minute left. The Vikings however went 9-15 from long range and it proved to be the difference maker. Tough man-to-man defense from WWU saw UAA force up a lot of tough shots and pressure their offense into turnovers.
The Seawolves saw big games out of sophomore guard Lonnie Ridgeway and big man Jeremiah Trueman as they paced the team. Ridgeway contributed 19 points, 4 assists, and one amazing block. Trueman, the 6’9″ senior hailing from New Zealand, nearly had a double-double in the first half alone with 10 points and eight boards but was held silent in both categories during the second half. Kyle Doerr also played a solid game putting up 6 points and four assists after coming off the bench.
The Vikings were paced by 16 points from senior guard Ira Graham who also went 4 of 6 from the arc. The Seawolves were haunted by Cameron Severson, a Petersburg High School graduate, who put up 11 points off the bench. The 6’4″ freshman said he wanted to have a good game against his home state team.
When asked about their upcoming game on Feb. 7, team points and rebound leader Barker said, “We got to go through our defensive and offensive sets and be ready to play.”
Barker also added that it would be another tough game against another good team.
The senior guard helped by putting up 15 points, 4 rebounds, and a team high 5 assists.
The Feb. 7 game against third ranked Seattle Pacific in what would turn into an absolute barnburner of a game. This back and forth tilt saw the Seawolves take the win 66-62 in front of an electrified crowd at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex.
Although they were ahead by a couple buckets for the majority of the first half it was still an uphill battle but UAA took a 30-28 lead into half and were paced by senior guard Barker’s 9 points. Steve White also saw some of his best minutes this year and was solid defensively and leading the team with 3 rebounds in the first half of play.
Second half action saw UAA rush out to a 10-2 run in the first 4:06 minutes. Things got really interesting when SPU guard Chris Banchero was fouled by Seawolf freshman guard Doerr. The play was called an intentional foul much to the dismay of the UAA bench and fans. Banchero made the shot as well as his 2 free throws and with the ball back on the inbounds, the Falcons hit a 3 pointer and suddenly they had their biggest lead, 48-42.
When asked later about the controversial foul, coach Osbourne said “It would have been very easy for them to say hey it’s not our year, it’s not our game, but to their credit they buckled down and responded well.”
“Well” may be an understatement in this case.
The Seawolves immediately clawed back into the game, taking the lead back and never relinquishing it again. The Seawolves played tough defense and got the stops they needed and were able to get into the paint for points.
With the game at 58-55 in favor of the home team, Ridgeway nearly brought the house down with a sensational put-back dunk off a Barker miss. Ridgeway streaked down the right wing and was able to get through the traffic in the lane to throw it down and make it 60-55
“One of those things where you just jump and just perfect timing and it was just there.” said Ridgeway.
UAA’s 19 point of 21 free throws shot was the clincher as the Seawolves held on to defeat the Falcons in front of a jubilated 875 fans in attendance.
Trueman ended the game with 20 points to lead UAA on 7 of 11 shooting. Barker added 19 points, 5 rebounds, and a team high 5 assists while Brandon Walker quietly had a solid game with 6 boards and 10 points.