After spending a large portion of the holiday season away from Anchorage, the red-hot UAA Women’s Basketball team finally has the chance to get off the road and enjoy the comforts of home for a change.
A rare four-game homestand in the middle of their league schedule offers the Seawolves both a chance to settle into the start of semester as well as put a bit of distance between themselves and other GNAC foes who are looking to catch UAA atop the conference standings.
To most, an 86-58 victory over the Western Oregon Wolves on Jan. 19 seemed like a convincing way to begin the homestand. Below the surface, however, the Seawolves had no problem picking apart their 28-point thrashing of WOU.
“It was a nice win, but I think we have a lot of things to work on as a team and get better at,” said senior guard Tijera Matthews on Jan. 20 after the victory against Western Oregon. “If you look at the stats, we didn’t play well.
That statement may have even made less sense to most after the Seawolves dominated Saint Martin’s the following night by a score of 83-48 on Jan. 21.
However, this pair of substantial wins comes with a new sense of awareness. The Seawolves, who are number one in the league in both scoring offense and defense, believe that they have been sloppy on the defensive end of the court as of late.
That realization came at the hands of the Simon Fraser Clan on Jan. 12 when the ‘Wolves saw their 10-game winning streak evaporate with a 69-77 defeat in Burnaby, British Columbia.
“With SFU, our offense wasn’t going great and our defense was horrible,” bluntly said senior forward Kaylie Robison. “Sure, we can bail ourselves out with offense a lot, but if it isn’t there in a game, what do we have to fall back on? That’s why we need to fall back on our defense.
“Defense and rebounding are things we can and need to control.”
Those two parts of the game have been instrumental in the success UAA has had in the past six years under Head Coach Tim Moser. Being atop the league in scoring offense may be new and welcome territory for the Seawolves, but in order to make a run at postseason success, Moser knows that the defense and rebounding have to remain the focus.
“The offensive thing makes it all look a little prettier,” Moser said. “This team has a lot of offensive weapons and we’re a tough guard for other teams because we have a lot of kids who can have big nights.
“But it is the defense and rebounding that are our foundations and are going to provide us success.”
The loss to SFU served as fuel two nights later when the Seawolves dismantled perennial contender Western Washington 75-55, handing the Vikings one of their worst defeats at home in years.
The lopsided road win over one of UAA’s most heated rival in the recent years would seemingly serve as a chance to celebrate. However, once again, it was another chance to step back and learn from their outing.
“At Western, our defense still wasn’t there where it needs to be but our offense was there this time,” Robison said. “It showed a lot of things we need to work on because if we don’t get better at them, it will be exploited later on.”
For Robison and the rest of her teammates, the ultimate goal is to peak at the end of the season and be playing their best basketball when the postseason rolls around. The constant picking apart of their performances allows the Seawolves to address their flaws and get better everyday leading up to the playoffs.
For now, the homestand will continue on with games against the Northwest Nazarene Crusaders on Jan 26. and the Central Washington Wildcats on Jan. 28. with the Seawolves sitting two games ahead of both WWU and Seattle Pacific halfway through the GNAC schedule.
If the first two games of the homestand were any prelude to things to come, both the Crusaders and Wildcats could be in for an even more motivated and hungrier UAA squad.