Anchorage — Sharp shooting and gritty defense helped the UAA women's basketball team to its first win of the season Friday at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex.
Sasha King sparked a second-half surge, scoring 14 of her game-high 18 points after the intermission and converting two timely steals into points as the Seawolves pulled away for an 85-76 nonconference win over Regis University of Denver.
"The second half was fun," said King, who was one assist shy of a double-double. "The first half, we made it hard on ourselves, but we came out in the second half more focused, ready and prepared and the scoreboard showed it."
Freshman Jenna Buchanan, Alaska's Class 3A player of the year last season for Galena, showed no difficulty transferring her skills to the college game. She scored nine of her 17 points in the first half, all on 3-pointers, to help UAA (1-1) jump to an early lead. Her third trey gave the Seawolves a 33-24 lead with 5:31 remaining.
"It's just exciting to be close to home," Buchanan said. "My family was here tonight."
Regis (0-1) found its rhythm, however, and came roaring back to within a point to make it 41-40 at the break.
"The last couple minutes of the first half were great," Regis coach Linda Raunig said. "It was a good basketball game."
Regis, led by 13 points from Meghan Hollenga, took a 42-41 lead on its first possession of the second half when Hollenga hit a nice jumper from the left wing. The score was tied 53-53 five minutes into the half, but UAA's Jessica Madison drilled a 3-pointer to put the Seawolves up 56-53 and they led the rest of the way.
"The whole second half, really, our guards were having a hard time running the show," Raunig said. "That was the difference, I think."
The Seawolves did a lot of things well, such as hitting all 12 of their free-throw attempts, and received contributions from all over the roster.
Junior transfer Mariesha Harris led the team with four steals to go with 16 points, Kylie Burns scored 12 and Madison hit for 11. The Seawolves also managed to win the rebounding battle 32-31 and win the turnover battle 25-13.
"One of the things that we stress in our program is the turnover differential," first-year coach Ryan McCarthy said. "When you get those kind of numbers, it gives you more opportunities to put the ball in the basket."
Rebounding was another big aspect McCarthy talked to his team about before the game, because Regis holds a decent height advantage. During one sequence in the second half, the Seawolves battled under the boards for three consecutive offensive rebounds before scoring, a show of hustle and determination that had McCarthy jumping and pumping his fist in approval.
Similar effort will be needed throughout the season, with the Seawolves likely to be smaller than most of their opponents.
Every time the Rangers threatened to come back and make a game of it, somebody stepped up for UAA. Regis answered Madison's 3-pointer with a score to make it 56-55, but Buchanon nailed a triple on the Seawolves next possession, followed by a steal and layup by King that extended the lead to 61-55 with 11:10 remaining. King sank a 3-pointer a few minutes later to put the Seawolves up 75-66 and in command going down the stretch.
The Seawolves hit 11 of 30 shots from long range, and McCarthy said fans can expect to see more outside shooting.
"We've have some ladies that shoot it extremely well from the outside, and I think we can put out a lineup with five players that can shoot the 3-pointer at a high accuracy," he said.
UAA hosts Regis again Saturday at 5 p.m. The UAA men take on Western Adventist at 7 p.m.
Reach Jeremy Peters at email@example.com or 257-4335.
REGIS (76) -- Hollenga 2-4 9-9 13, Purdy 3-9 1-2 7, Seefeldt 5-7 0-2 10, Von Stein 2-3 0-0 6, Brzeczek 2-5 0-0 6, Vader 1-1 2-2 4, Deremo 1-1 2-2 4, Feeney 3-7 3-3 9, Collins 2-5 2-2 7, Larson 5-7 0-0 10. Totals 26-49 19-22 76.
UAA (85) -- Horn 3-10 2-2 9, Burns 5-9 0-0 12, Harris 5-10 6-6 16, Buchanan 6-14 0-0 17, King 8-17 0-0 18, Brewster 0-0 0-0 0, Hutching 0-1 0-0 0, Martin 0-2 2-2 2, Madison 4-8 2-2 11. Totals 31-71 12-12 85.
Regis 40 36 -- 76
UAA 41 44 -- 85
3-point goals -- Regis 5-14 (Purdy 0-1, Von Stein 2-3, Brzeczek 2-5, Feeney 0-1, Collins 1-4), UAA 11-30 (Horn 2-2, Buchanan 5-9, King 2-7, Hutchins 0-1, Martin 0-1, Madison 1-5). Rebounds -- Regis 31 (Hollenga 6), UAA 32 (Horn 8). Assists -- Regis 21 (Collins 5), UAA 22 (King 9). Turnovers -- Regis 25 (Brzeczek 6), UAA 13 (King 4). Steals -- Regis 8 (Hollenga 3), UAA 11 (Harris 4). Blocked shots -- Regis 3 (Feeney 2), UAA 1 (Horn). Total fouls -- Regis 13, UAA 19. Fouled out -- None. Referees -- McNew, Floyd, Gillan. A -- 540.