The UAA men’s basketball team beat Seattle Pacific University 89-75 in front of an energetic home crowd Feb. 11 in the Wells Fargo Sports Complex. SPU is ranked fifth in the nation in its division.
The Seawolves were spurred on by a raucous student section, complete with a group of students whose painted chests spelled out “Go UAA Seawolves!!!”
The Falcon’s (19-2, 11-2 GNAC), who are first in the West Region, spent a lot of time laughing and smiling from the bench during the first half, and didn’t seem to take the Seawolves, who lost to them 80-87 Jan. 12, seriously.
“We played well [in Seattle],” UAA coach Rusty Osborne said. “We lost it in the last 45 seconds. So our guys weren’t intimidated. We felt we made some improvements.”
During the first seven minutes of game time, there were seven lead changes and three ties, and neither team seemed to take control.
UAA (15-9, 7-6 GNAC) led the rest of the game, paced by Burgess, who has scored 22 points in back-to-back home games.
Joe Davis came off the bench and poured in 17 points in his 17 minutes of playing time.
Aaron Lawrence, originally from Sacramento Calif., said the win came because the team withstood SPU’s runs.
“We stuck with the things we do well: trying to get it into our post, mixing up our inside and outside game, having good ball pressure, rebounding,” Lawrence said. “We just stuck to the game plan.”
Part of that game plan included guarding SPU’s Tony Binetti, who averages 18.5 points and over five assists per game.
“Binetti’s a real good player,” Lawrence said. “It was really a collective effort in trying to contain Binetti.”
The win was vital to the Seawolves, who are trying to keep their playoff hopes alive.
And that is something they have done all season long. UAA is undefeated at the WFSC so far this season, beating their opponents by an average of 29.4 points a game.
“(The Seawolves) can’t afford to have any slip-ups if we want to make the playoffs. And by now we’re just trying to take it one game at a time,” Lawrence said. “We’re focusing on doing that, starting from this past week with (Northwest) Nazarene.”
Two nights earlier, Feb. 9, the Seawolves conquered the visiting Crusaders from Nampa, Idaho 100-76.
Northwest Nazarene scored first, and the Seawolves led for only three seconds in the ensuing ten minutes of play.
However, with UAA down 18-11 at the 12:58 mark, the men got going with an offensive rebound and layup by Carl Arts, which brought the Seawolves back in the game. There were three ties and three lead changes in the next six minutes leading up to UAA’s takeover with a 19-3 run to finish the half.
The Seawolves came out strong in the second half, leading by as much as 31 points and finishing with 56 points, the highest scoring half ever recorded for the Seawolves in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference game.
UAA was led by junior Eric Draper, who came off the bench and provided instant offense, making six 3-pointers and scoring a career-high 27 points. Draper’s consistent ability provided a spark to the team that caught coach Osborne’s eye.
“I love seeing Eric have success,” Osborne said. “No offense to Kemmy, cause Kemmy’s right there with him, but Eric’s our hardest worker.”
NNU was led by Marcus Clift with 16 points, and Mesut Ademoglu, who scored 13 points and pulled down seven rebounds.
James Hartman’s double-double, 18 points – a perfect 6-6 from the field – as well as 12 rebounds and Luke Cooper’s 12 assists, helped the Seawolves to their first win of a two-game home sweep.