UAF begins second half of hoops season
The Nanooks return home as they open up the second half of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference season against Northwest Nazarene Thursday night and Central Washington Saturday evening. Live stats and live video are available for both games or you can listen live to both on KCBF 820 AM.
Nanooks at a Glance
Alaska currently sits 10-7 on the season with a 5-4 mark in GNAC play at the midway point of the conference slate. The Nanooks are on a three-game losing skid, which they will look to end when facing two opponents they beat on the road in the first half.
Four players average double-figure scoring, led by Dominique Brinson’s 13.8 points per game. Pat Voeut scores 12.8 to go with 5.1 assists, Sergej Pucar tallies 10.2 points and 7.8 rebounds and Stefan Tica contributes 10.1 points per outing. Alaska averages 75.2 points per game and ranks fourth in scoring defense with 68.4 points allowed per outing.
Pair of Tough Losses on the Road
Alaska fell in both contests on the road last week, dropping a 68-54 decision at Simon Fraser before losing 79-66 to No. 2 Western Washington. The Nanooks led by 10 in the first half at SFU before the Clan rallied and shut down Alaska’s offense in the second half. Western Washington shot 60 percent in the second half and dominated the glass en route to its program-record 24th straight win.
Pat Voeut led the way with 13.0 points per game to go with six assists and four steals. Stefan Tica tallied 10.0 points per game while Dominique Brinson and Dallen Bills each recorded 8.0 points per game. Brinson also produced six assists and three steals. Sergej Pucar also had four blocks, including a career-best three at Simon Fraser.
How We Rank in the GNAC
Dominique Brinson ranks 11th in the league in scoring while Pat Voeut is tied for 13th in the same category. Sergej Pucar is second in rebounding, tied for seventh in three-point percentage (.450) and 10th in blocks (0.8). Voeut also ranks second in assists, tied for fifth in steals (1.5) and seventh in free throw percentage (.833). Brinson is also fifth in free throw percentage (.860) and seventh in three pointers made (2.2). Ronnie Baker is tied with Voeut for fifth in steals (1.5) and Andrew Kelly is tied for seventh in the same category (1.5) and tied for sixth in blocks (1.0) while Stefan Tica is eighth in treys made (1.9).
Scouting the Crusaders
Northwest Nazarene has lost four in a row as it has fallen to 9-8 on the year and 3-6 in GNAC play. Last Week, NNU dropped an 81-70 decision on the road against travel partner Central Washington. The Crusaders average 69.4 points while holding opponents to 69-2 points per game. Kenny Jones is the seventh-leading scorer in the GNAC with 15.4 points per game while Jonathan Hawkins is in the top 15 with 12.8 per outing. Michal Kurimsky leads the league in shooting (.614) while Kevin Rima is fifth in blocks (1.1), seventh in shooting (.553) and eighth in rebounding (6.5). Jones is third in steals (1.8) and sixth in assists (3.8) while Hawkins is first in free throw percentage (.938) and eighth in assists (3.7).
Scouting the Wildcats
Central Washington has won three of four games to improve to 11-6 on the season and 5-4 in league play. CWU downed travel partner Northwest Nazarene at home last week, 81-70.
The Wildcats lead the GNAC with 88.6 points per game but rank 10th in scoring defense as they allow opponents to average 82.6 points per outing. Mark McLaughlin leads the conference with 23.7 points per game while four others average double figures. Three players rank in the top 20 in rebounding with a combined 5.8 rebounds per game among the trio. McLaughlin is also second in steals (1.8) and 10th in free throw shooting (.820) while Chris Holmes is sixth in shooting (.564).
UAF women’s basketball team connects with Boys & Girls Club of Tanana Valley
FAIRBANKS, Alaska – Back in early January, the Alaska women’s basketball team continued its efforts in the community by heading over to the Boys & Girls Club of Tanana Valley to visit with the youth of Fairbanks.
Members of the team played games with the kids to keep them active in sports. The Nanooks split up the children by age with the younger kids participating in dribbling relay races and knock out. The older group was a tad more competitive and challenged the team to a game of 5-on-5.
“It’s fun for us and for them,” senior forward Jacqueline Lovato said. “We love the opportunity to teach kids how to play and they really enjoy getting to play against us rather than just amongst themselves. It was a pretty good game we had going on with the older kids so anything basketball-related is exciting for us.”
The team made such an impression that day as a few of the children the Nanooks played came out to the Patty Center for their game on Jan. 19 against Northwest Nazarene. Afterward, the players made it a priority to go and visit with the kids who came out to the game.
“We have some new fans and we saw a few of them at the game [on Jan. 19],” junior guard Marissa Atoruk said. “They were excited to watch us play and told us good job.”
“We want to get out and reach the community to let people know our interest is not only in athletics but also the youth and anyone we can impact in the community,” Lovato said.
Head coach Cody Burgess-Bench challenged the program at the beginning of the year to participate in at least one community service event each month. Thus far, the Nanooks haven’t disappointed, and in some cases do multiple activities per month.
“We set out the goal at the beginning of the year to do at least one community service event a month,” Atoruk said. “Every community service event we do, we have a blast. It says a lot about our team because it’s not that we have to do it -- we want to do it.”
“It’s really important that we get out in the community,” junior forward Sam Thornton said. “People see that we’re not the stereotypical student-athletes that people think of when it comes to basketball players and then they come support us at our games, so it’s great.”
In an e-mail to Coach Burgess-Bench, Sarah Nichols, site director for the Boys & Girls Club of Tanana Valley, had this to say about the team’s visit:
“I just wanted to extend my warmest thank you to you and your team for their visit to the Boys & Girls Club on Monday. All of the members were so excited to have the ladies there and the games that they played with the club members were so much fun. I know that the teen boys who played the ladies will remember that game for a long time!”
UAA Track & Field takes three of four GNAC honors
PORTLAND, Ore. – The Alaska Anchorage track & field team took three of the four GNAC Red Lion Track and Field Athletes of the Week honors following their indoor debut on Jan. 25-26 at the University of Washington Invitational.
Earning the league awards were Micah Chelimo, Cody Thomas and Susan Tanui, all of UAA, and Emily Warman of Western Washington.
Picking up the men’s track honor was Chelimo. A local of Kapkoi, Kenya, Chelimo broke the GNAC record in the 3,000 meters with a provisional national qualifying (PNQ) time of 8:14.15. The old record was held by UAA’s current graduate assistant Anthony Tomsich (8:16.85), who set the mark in 2010 with Western Washington.
The men’s field award went to Thomas, a freshman who registered a PNQ in the heptathlon. A local of Blenheim, New Zealand, Thomas’ points total of 4,648 ranked fifth best in the league record books.
On the women’s side, Tanui ran the second fastest women’s 3,000 meter time in GNAC history at UW, covering the distance in a PNQ of 9:38.71.
UAA me win at SFU, move into 3rd
BURNABY, British Columbia – Senior Liam Gibcus and junior Kyle Fossman led a balanced scoring attack with 16 points apiece Saturday to help visiting Alaska Anchorage to an 86-66 men’s basketball victory over Simon Fraser at the SFU West Gymnasium.
The Seawolves (12-5, 5-4 GNAC) also got 13 points each from junior guard Colton Lauwers and sophomore wing Teancum Stafford as they pulled into a tie for 3rd place tie at the midway point of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference schedule.
The Clan (6-11, 1-8) were led by 12 points and four rebounds from reserve guard Elijah Matthews but saw their starters outscored 63-35 by the Seawolves.
UAA trailed 25-18 midway through the first half before junior guard Mike MacKelvie nailed a three-pointer to start a 14-0 run, giving the visitors the lead for good. Lauwers, who shot 4 of 4 from the floor, sank one of his three three-pointers just before halftime to put UAA up 44-34, and SFU would get no closer than eight points, 48-40, early in the second half. The Seawolves stretched their lead as high as 22 points on four occasions over the last nine minutes.
With the victory, UAA remains unbeaten in eight all-time meetings against SFU, including all five since the Clan joined the GNAC in 2010-11.
The Seawolves were sharp in every statistical category, shooting 52.6 percent overall, 45.5 percent (10 of 12) from long range and 88.9 percent (16 of 18) at the free throw line. UAA committed only eight turnovers while dishing 20 assists, and outrebounded SFU 31-18.
All five UAA starters shot at least 50 percent from the field, with Gibcus (5 of 10), Fossman (6-12), Stafford (5 of 9) and Christian Leckband (2 of 3) complementing Lauwers’ hot hand. Stafford and Gibcus tied for game-high honors with seven rebounds apiece, and Lauwers dished a game-high five assists.
UAA alsp got a big lift off the bench from senior forward Abebe Demissie and freshman forward Collin Spickerman, who scored eight points apiece and combined for nine boards.
With four wins in their last five games, the Seawolves are now tied with Central Washington and Alaska Fairbanks in the GNAC standings with 5-4 records. UAA plays five of its last nine regular-season games at home, starting with Thursday’s 7 p.m. showdown against CWU at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex. CWU took the first meeting between the teams, 81-72, in Ellensburg on Jan. 5.
The Seawolves will return to action with the Husky Classic on Feb. 8-9 in Seattle, Wash.
Matsunami, Petersen shine in loss to SPU
ANCHORAGE – Alaska Anchorage freshman M’rcy Matsunami posted a winning 38.750 all-around score but it wasn’t enough to hold off a late Seattle Pacific charge Saturday as the visitors earned a 192.225-191.200 gymnastics victory at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex.
The Seawolves (2-3) also got another strong showing from junior Emily Petersen to lead throughout the first three rotations, however the Falcons (1-3) took the final rotation – with SPU on beam and UAA on floor – by nearly two points to earn the win.
SPU was led by senior Sydney Clark’s runner-up 38.725 all-around as it avenged Friday night’s narrow loss to UAA in a rematch of Mountain Pacific Sports Federation rivals.
Matsunami, from Omaha, Neb., edged Clark by earning the 11th-best all-around total in UAA history, topping the 9.8 barrier on both vault and uneven bars. Her winning 9.825 was her fourth vault score of at least 9.8 in as many meets, while she tied Petersen for top honors on bars at 9.8.
Petersen, the team captain from Indianapolis, also posted a 9.825 to win on balance beam, tying her career high and the 5th-best beam score in Seawolf history.
Freshman Stefany Bryan earned UAA’s top mark on floor exercise with a 9.525, while Matsunami and Paige Pirie posted 9.475s.
Sophomore Sariaye Jensen gave the Seawolves a boost in the first two rotations with a career-high 9.7 vault, followed by a 9.725 on bars.
Other top marks for the Seawolves included a 9.675 on vault and a 9.625 on bars by freshman Marie-Sophie Boggasch, and a 9.7 on beam from sophomore Morgan Cook.
The Seawolves are off next week before returning to the road for a pair of meets at Centenary on Feb. 8 and Feb. 10.
NOTES: UAA’s bars total of 48.500 was a season high and topped Friday’s 48.475 for the best home-meet bars score and 3rd-best overall in program history … the 48.425 vault score ranks 10th on UAA’s program list, giving the 2013 Seawolves four of the top 13 scores in program history already.
NCAA Swimming: Simon Fraser 124, Alaska 71
FAIRBANKS, Alaska – Simon Fraser set two more pool records and claimed 10 of 11 events to down Alaska 124-71 in PCSC swimming on Saturday afternoon at the Patty Center Pool.
The Clan (8-1) opened the meet with a venue record in the 200 medley relay. The team of Kristine Lawson, Katie McEvoy, Alexandria Schofield and Nicole Cossey touched the wall in an NCAA B-cut time of one minute, 48.30 seconds, besting the previous pool record of 1:50.10, set by Alaska in January of 2012.
They just beat Alaska’s foursome of junior Bente Heller (Hamburg, Germany/Psychology), freshman Eileen Audette (Seward, Alaska/Fisheries) and sophomores Margot Adams (Anchorage, Alaska/Political science) and Danielle Lyons (Prince Albert, Saskatchewan/Biological sciences), which turned in a B-cut time of 1:48.61.
Carmen Nam set a new pool record in the 200 butterfly with her time of 2:05.34, which also surpassed Alaska’s varsity record of 2:05.37, set by former Nanook Kelly Becker in 2006. She edged Adams, who hit the wall in 2:06.73. Both marks exceeded the B-cut standard. Nam also won the 500 freestyle in 5:17.16, beating Lyons by just over two seconds.
Other individual winners for SFU were Meghan Quon (1,650 freestyle and 200 breaststroke), Schofield (200 free), Cossey (50 free), McEvoy (400 individual medley) and Grace Ni (200 backstroke). The Clan rounded out the meet with a victory in the 400 free relay. Lawson, Schofield, Jordyn Konrad and Cossey completed the event in a B-cut time of 3:34.88.
Alaska’s lone victory came from Heller, who won the 100 free in a B-cut time of 52.52 seconds, out-touching Lawson by 12 one-hundredths of a second. She was also runner-up by a narrow margin in the 50 free (24.59). The Nanooks (3-5) also had one other individual second-place showing and four third-place finishes.
The Nanooks now turn their attention to the 2013 Pacific Collegiate Swim and Dive Conference Championships, which takes place Feb. 13-16 in La Mirada, Calif.