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Alaska Sports News

Posted: February 27, 2013 - 1:11am

UAF men’s basketball team named GNAC team of the week for the 3rd time

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Alaska men’s basketball team had a weekend that head coach Mick Durham said each of his players would never forget.

The Nanooks stunned previously unbeaten and second-ranked Western Washington last Thursday and added a come-from-behind win two days later against Simon Fraser to be named Great Northwest Athletic Conference Team of the Week, the league office announced Tuesday morning.

“After the game Saturday, I told them this is a weekend you’ll never forget, even though Simon Fraser was a close game,” Durham said. “It’s something they will remember forever. You don’t beat teams that have won 30 in a row very often, let alone do you have a chance to be able to do that.”

The Vikings had not lost since March 2, 2013, a win streak that had stretched to a program- and conference-record 30 straight games, but that record came to a screeching halt last Thursday at the Patty Center when Alaska overcame the odds and upset WWU 77-73.

“We did talk about that we can’t let Western get away from us, we can’t let them extend the lead and stay in range,” Durham said. “They are a quick-scoring offense and we didn’t want to let it get away. We didn’t and took it down the stretch and our guys had tremendous confidence to finish it.”

Two days later, the Nanooks celebrated Senior Day and had to use a stout defensive effort over the final few minutes, holding Simon Fraser scoreless for the final 3:36 and ending the game on a 7-0 run to win 63-61 to improve to 15-9 on the year and 10-6 in GNAC play.

“The most impressive thing of the weekend was our last three minutes and 30 seconds against Simon Fraser and we held them scoreless,” Durham said. “That was the big difference. We were in trouble there and our guys have bought into playing good defense. I think that’s the biggest improvement from last year’s team to this year’s team. I know it’s a new team but look how far we’ve come defensively and rebounding.”

Junior center Sergej Pucar (Belgrade, Serbia/Business administration) was named GNAC Red Lion Player of the Week for the second time in three weeks after scoring 44 points, including a career-best 26 points in Thursday’s win. He shot 53.6 percent (15-28) for the week and drained six three pointers on 10 attempts while also contributing 15 rebounds and four blocks.

Other leading contributors included senior guard Dominique Brinson (Juneau, Alaska/Accounting), who had 26 points while junior guard Ronnie Baker (Vallejo, Calif./Communication) added 24 points and 10 rebounds.

The Nanooks conclude the 2012-13 regular season this week with a pair of tough road tests at teams which have already clinched a GNAC Championship berth. On Thursday, Alaska takes on Montana State Billings at 5 p.m. (AKST), followed by a Saturday 6 p.m. (AKST) meeting at fifth-ranked Seattle Pacific.

Alaska can finish anywhere between third and fifth place for the conference playoffs, dependent on this week’s results

UAF swimming named to CSCAA Scholar All-America Team

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Alaska women’s swim team has been named to the College Swimming Coaches Association of America Scholar All-America Team for NCAA Division II, the CSCAA announced Sunday.

The Nanooks turned in a cumulative grade-point average of 3.07 during the fall term, earning them the prestigious academic honor.

“We say to the team family first, school second and swimming third,” head coach Scott Lemley said. “They take care of friends and family, they take care of grades then I take care of the swimming for them. The primary reason to be here is to get a degree and to get it in four years. This is evidence they do a great job in the classroom.”

Alaska is one of two Pacific Collegiate Swim and Dive Conference schools on the All-America list as Cal State East Bay joined the ‘Nooks with a 3.28 cumulative GPA.

To be considered for the accolade, teams must finish a semester with at least a combined 3.0 GPA. A total of 44 Division II women’s programs were named Scholar All-Americans, including last year’s national champions, Wayne State, and national runner-up, Drury.

“My goal is for us to be the fastest, smartest team in the country,” Lemley said. “We don’t just want to be fast or just be smart, we want both.”

UAA Ski team qualifies 12 for NCAA Championships

INDIANAPOLIS – The Alaska Anchorage Seawolves will be sending a full 12-member team to the 2013 National Collegiate Men’s and Women’s Skiing Championships, to be held March 6-9 at Middlebury College Snow Bowl and Carroll and Jane Rikert Ski Touring Center in Middlebury, Vt., announced by the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Skiing Committee on Monday.

The 12 Seawolves, which are among 74 men and 74 women that were selected to participate, will be one of seven teams that will field a full squad. This marks the second straight season and third time overall that UAA has fielded a full 12-athlete team.

Head to Vermont on the Alpine side is Andreas Adde, Cedrick Gagnon and Niko Harmanen on the men’s side and Anna Berecz, Vanessa Berther and Kayla Hoog-Fry on the women’s side. Representing UAA on the cross country courses is Viktor Braennmark, Lukas Ebner and Lasse Moelgaard-Nielsen for the men and Marine Dusser, Karina Smith and Patricia Sprecher for the women.

Participants are selected on a regional basis from two designated regions for Alpine skiing (East and West Regions) and three designated regions for Nordic skiing (Central, East and West Regions). Bids are awarded to regions using a formula determined by the skiing committee. A maximum of 12 student-athletes (three per gender per discipline) may participate from an institution.

Alpine events will run at Middlebury College Snow Bowl. The men’s and women’s giant slaloms will be held March 6, with the men’s and women’s slaloms conducted March 8.Nordic events will be held at Rikert Nordic Center. The men’s 10-kilometer and women’s five-kilometer classical cross-country races will be conducted March 7. The women’s 15-kilometer and men’s 20-kilometer freestyle races will be held March 9. This year’s skiing championships will be webcast live on NCAA.com.

UAF’s Woman’s basketball’s Samantha Thornton named GNAC Co-Player of the Week

PORTLAND, Ore. – Junior forward Samantha Thornton (Bremerton, Wash./Business administration) has been named Great Northwest Athletic Conference Red Lion Women’s Basketball Co-Player of the Week, the league office announced Monday morning.

“She’s improved as the season’s gone along and really has established her role and identity with the team,” head coach Cody Burgess-Bench said. “It’s allowed her to flourish and it’s definitely helped us get some victories.”

Thornton led the Nanooks to a pair of wins at home last weekend, with a 55-40 victory over Western Oregon and a 67-65 overtime win against Saint Martin’s. The win gave the team its third win in a row, the longest win streak in five years.

She scored 27 points and had 14 rebounds for the week, including a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds in Thursday’s win over WOU. In Saturday’s contest with SMU, Thornton scored six of her 10 points in overtime to lead the team to the win. Thornton shot 43 percent (10-22) in the two games and also contributed three blocks and five steals.

This is her first-ever conference award and the program’s first Player of the Week honor since Jan. 23, 2006, when Nicole Hartzog, who played just one season with the Nanooks, was named Co-Player of the Week after Alaska swept ironically Saint Martin’s and Western Oregon at home last year.

“It’s been finding who we are as a team and having the discipline and focus to never give up and give out best effort for every game,” Burgess-Bench said. “It’s a culmination of different things that have come together for us and Sam in the wins last weekend helped our morale get to a whole new level.”

The Nanooks conclude the 2012-13 season this Saturday at 7 p.m. when they face in-state rival Alaska Anchorage.

UAA puts 15 track ‘Wolves with All-Region honors

NEW ORLEANS, La. – Fifteen (8 men, 7 women) Alaska Anchorage Seawolves were among 1,061 student-athletes that have earned a total of 1,574 U.S. Track & Field Cross Country Coaches Association All-Region honors, announced on Monday.

Just one of 12 student-athletes out of 555 men to register four or more honors was junior Micah Chelimo. Chelimo, from Kapkio, Kenya, earned the All-region distinction in the mile, 3,000 meters, 5,000 meters and the distance medley relay.

Leading the UAA women with a team-high three honors was junior Susan Tanui. The Eldoret, Kenya, local was honored in the mile, 3K and 5K.

Receiving two honors were Dylan Anthony (3K, 5K), Joe Day (800m, DMR), Ethan Hewitt (400m, DMR), Alfred Kangogo (mile, DMR), Kevin Rooke (3K, 5K) on the men’s side, while Ruth Keino (3K, 5K) furnished two on the women’s side.

Coming away with one accolade were Jake Parisien (5K), Cody Thomas (heptathlon), Karolin Anders (pentathlon), Susan Bick (DMR), Haleigh Lloyd (DMR), Ivy O’Guinn (DMR) and Jessica Pahkala (DMR).

The top five from each region in individual events and each member of a relay ranked in the region’s top three have earned the All-region distinction for this season.

UAF men’s basketball’s Sergej Pucar named GNAC Player Of The Week

PORTLAND, Ore. – For the second time in three weeks, junior center Sergej Pucar (Belgrade, Serbia/Business administration) has been named Great Northwest Athletic Conference Red Lion Men’s Basketball Player of the Week, the league office announced Monday morning.

Pucar led the Nanooks (15-9, 10-6 GNAC) to two home wins last week, which included a 77-73 upset over previously unbeaten Western Washington, ended the second-ranked Vikings’ program- and GNAC-record 30-game win streak.

He scored 42 points in the wins with a career-best 26 points against WWU and a game-high 16 points against Simon Fraser in the last home game of the regular season. Pucar shot 53.6 percent (15-28) from the floor and made six three pointers on just 10 attempts. He also contributed 15 rebounds and four blocks in the weekly sweep. This is the fifth time an Alaska player has been awarded the Player of the Week nod. Along with Pucar’s two accolades, junior guard Pat Voeut (Bellingham, Wash./Communication) was given the award twice (11/19, 1/7) while senior guard Dominique Brinson (Juneau, Alaska/Accounting) was a recipient once (1/14).

Alaska clinched its first-ever GNAC Championship berth with its win over Western Washington last Thursday and sits tied for third with Alaska Anchorage at 10-6 in the league standings with two games remaining. The Nanooks can finish anywhere from third to fifth place for playoff seeding, dependent on this week’s outcomes.

The Nanooks end the regular season with a tough road trip at Montana State Billings Thursday at 5 p.m. (AKST) and Saturday at 6 p.m. (AKST) at fifth-ranked Seattle Pacific. They Yellowjackets are two games back of Alaska and are in fifth place of the GNAC standings while the Falcons clinched a first-round bye and are currently second.

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