Sports briefs 2/16/2010

Seawolves shut down #17 Vikings, 68-53

Brandon Walker scored a game-high 23 points as UAA ended with an 18-0 run Feb. 11 to score a 68-53 upset over nationally 17th-ranked Western Washington at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex.

UAA entered with a regional rank of No. 8.

The Seawolves (14-6, 5-4 GNAC) knocked off the defending league champions and the current top-rated squad in the NCAA Div. II West Region as they also got 13 points from junior forward Nick Pacitti and a career-high 10 points from sophomore forward Aaron Stevens.

UAA’s defense stepped up big in the second half, holding the Vikings to 21 percent marksmanship, including 0 of 8 on three-point shots.

Stevens, a 6-8 junior-college transfer who played locally at South Anchorage High School, had the best game of his young career, making 5 of 6 shots and grabbing four rebounds. His steal and breakaway dunk with 12:33 remaining made it 47-40 and sparked the Seawolves’ late surge.

Walker gave UAA its first lead of the night on a spinning layup in the lane with 3:17 remaining, drawing the foul and converting the old-fashioned three-point play to make it 55-53.

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The win earned the Seawolves a season split with the Vikings after falling 68-62 in Bellingham last month.

UAA edge out GNAC leading WWU in thriller

Nicci Miller scored 21 points, including the game-winning jumper with 3.3 seconds left, as UAA knocked off league-leading Western Washington, 71-69, in a battle of nationally ranked teams Feb. 11.

UAA came in ranked No. 17 nationally and No. 4 in the NCAA Div. II West Region, while WWU entered at No. 20 and No. 2, respectively.

The Seawolves (17-3, 7-2 GNAC) also got 13 points and four rebounds from sophomore center Hanna Johansson as they handed WWU its first GNAC loss in 11 outings.

After beating UAA 78-58 in Bellingham last month, the Vikings appeared to be the better team again in the early going; however, UAA would never say die as they set the stage for last game heroics.

Miller picked up the loose ball with 10 seconds left and drove through a phalanx of Viking defenders, kissing a 6-foot jumper off the glass and sending up a roar for the 491 fans at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex.

Miller shot 7 of 11 from the field and 7 of 7 at the free-throw line to earn her highest career point total in a GNAC game. It was her fourth 20-plus outing of the season.

Seawolves receive WCHA Scholar-Athlete honors

A program-high five Seawolves were among 77 student-athletes to receive the fifth annual Western Collegiate Hockey Association Scholar-Athlete award as announced by the league Feb. 11. Senior defenseman Nils Backstrom and senior goaltender Jon Olthuis were amid 40 athletes that were repeat honorees from the 2008-09 season.

In addition to Backstrom and Olthuis, seniors Josh Lunden and Jared Tuton and sophomore Dusan Sidor represented UAA by receiving their first Scholar-Athlete award.

Olthuis, from Neerlandia, Alberta, received the honor for the third time of his career after earning UAA’s first ever recognition in 2007-08.

To receive the WCHA Scholar-Athlete Award, conference-member student-athletes must have completed at least one year of residency at their present institution prior to the current academic year and must also have a grade-point average of at least 3.50 on a 4.0 scale for the previous two semesters or three quarters, or may qualify if his or her overall GPA is at least 3.50 for all terms at his or her present institution.

The Seawolf WCHA Scholar-Athletes will be recognized and publicly honored on-ice with a commemorative plaque at the UAA vs. Minnesota Duluth game on Friday, March 5.

Compiled by Taylor Hall