Coach Ryan McCarthy made an unusual move in the third quarter of the NCAA Div. II West Region semifinal basketball game: play man-to-man defense.
The Seawolves have garnered widespread acclaim for their hyper-active, mayhem-style of defense that results in over 14 steals a game — best in the nation. But man-to-man defense was the only way he could think of to stop Cal Baptist’s lethal three point shooting.
After scoring 30 points off three’s through the third quarter, the Lancers (29-3) were held to just 6 in the fourth quarter and overtime period, and the Seawolves (35-2) won 82-79 to advance in the tournament.
Four out of five Seawolf starters hit double-digits in the overtime win. Senior Jessica Madison had 9 points in the first quarter and finished with 17. Alysha Devine added 15 points and 5 rebounds, and Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Year Megan Mullings overcame a slow-start to finish with 10 points and 7 rebounds.
“We knew we had to play defense, we knew we had to get stops,” Mullings said during a phone interview. “It was just one of those things where we looked at each other and we were like, ‘This is not our last game ladies. There is no way this is our last game tonight. This is not how it’s going down.'”
Lancer Kamille Diaz scored 23 points to go along with 7 rebounds and 8 assists. Cassidy Mihalko’s double-double included 18 points and 12 rebounds.
The Seawolves trailed just 36-39 at the half, but the Lancers outscored the Seawolves 20-17 in the third quarter to keep UAA at bay.
“Our ladies showed a lot of poise down the stretch, there wasn’t any panic, and we didn’t do anything out of character,” McCarthy said.
The Seawolves missed four field goals to start the fourth quarter and Nelson’s basket at 8:39 made it 61-53. UAA’s defense stiffened up, propelling UAA to a 7-0 run to make it 60-61 with 6:48 to play.
UAA took its first lead of the quarter on a Devine 3-pointer at 1:21. Mihalko answered with three of her own, tying the game at 70.
Kiki Robertson grabbed a Jenna Buchanan miss on the next possession and was fouled on her put back attempt. Robertson made both of her free throws, but the Lancers’ drew up a play for Diaz who beat several Seawolves on a drive to the basket, tying the game with 9 seconds remaining. Neither team could get a go-ahead bucket and the game went to overtime.
The Seawolves won the overtime tip and Mullings finished on a reverse lay up. Diaz answered back, but the Seawolves forced a shot clock violation on the Lancers’ next possession. Devine hit another huge bucket at 3:01 to put the Seawolves up 76-74.
Buchanan stole the ball but blew a lay up. The Lancers found Asher for three to go up 77-76.
UAA’s Madison got an inside bucket to go and put the Seawolves back on top. The Lancers couldn’t retake the lead on their next possession, and Buchanan’s jumper at 29 seconds made it a three point game. Cal Baptist missed two more late field goals, leading to UAA’s historic victory.
The Seawolves play fourth-seed UC San Diego Monday at 6 p.m. Alaska Daylight Time and can be streamed live at portal.stretchinternet.com/apu.