Anchorage — When Mike MacKelvie made an acrobatic reverse layup to beat the first-half buzzer Saturday, he was the ninth player to record at least one bucket for the UAA men's basketball team before halftime in a nonconference win over Washington Adventist at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex. The slick shot gave the Seawolves a 24-point cushion in a game they went on to win by 31.
The 87-56 win was the second this week against Washington Adventist, an independent Division II team from Maryland, but Saturday's win had a different look than Thursday's 13-point victory.
"It was a lot better than last game," junior guard Kyle Fossman said. "I thought we improved this game, so we'll look to build off that."
Led by a game-high 21 points from Fossman, the Seawolves (4-0) also got a career-high 20 points from senior center Liam Gibcus on 9 of 12 shooting.
UAA notched 25 assists on 31 field goals, moving the ball with sharp passes and finishing many possessions with smooth layups.
"I thought today a lot of the points came from easy dish-offs from the guys," Gibcus said. "The thing we've been having trouble with is handling a little bit of that pressure up top and the guys being able to break through that created a lot of space and that's where a lot of the easy points came from."
The UAA defense was sturdy as well. Washington Adventist (0-3) shot 29.3 percent from the field and lost the turnover battle 16-13. Guiressi Grimes led the Shock with 17 points and six rebounds, and Harvey Todd tossed in 11 points.
The Seawolves shot 62 percent from the field, hitting 6 of 14 from 3-point range. Fossman buried three from long range and hit all six of his free-throw attempts, and senior forward Demissie Abebe contributed from all over the floor with two steals and a blocked shot to go with his 10 points.
UAA coach Rusty Osborne, who wasn't happy with the way the Seawolves played Thursday, was pleased with how hard his team played Saturday. But he said there were still plenty of mistakes.
"I called a few timeouts that we didn't need because of the score, but they were called because guys weren't doing what they were supposed to do," Osborne said. "We've really addressed that the last few days and I'm being really hard on 'em and will continue to be really hard on 'em until we can correct that."
UAA called a timeout with two seconds remaining in the first half to set up the full-court play that led to MacKelvie's layup. Washington Adventist was in a full-court press defense and MacKelvie broke free down the left sideline to catch a long pass. He raced along the baseline and, with a defender draped all over him, slipped the ball neatly in as the buzzer sounded. Osborne and the rest of the team celebrated as they headed toward the locker room.
"The basket was gravy," Osborne said. "It was nice that we were able to score the basket, but just to execute the play and get the two seconds off was the big thing."
The Seawolves' execution will be put to the test Wednesday against Belmont, a Division I team from Nashville, Tenn., in the first round of the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout at the Sullivan Arena.
Belmont is a good team, Osborne said, and the Seawolves know they are in for a tough battle. The game starts at 10 p.m., which might provide an edge for the local team.
"We're used to practicing at 10 o'clock at night, so maybe that'll give us just a little bit of an advantage," Osborne said. "Strange things happen if you can hang around for a while, so that'll be our key."
The players' approach to the Shootout is business-like, but still geared toward having a good time.
"It's a very enjoyable week," said Gibcus, who will play in his fourth and final Shootout. "There's a bit of stress involved obviously, but I think a lot of the guys embrace that and there's a lot hype around it and everyone has a lot of fun during the tournament, and playing good opponents always gets the boys up and about, so everyone's pretty excited for it."
WASHINGTON ADVENTIST (56) -- Meredith 1-5 4-5 6, S. Berry 1-1 0-0 2, A. Berry 1-3 0-0 2, Adeyeye 4-15 0-0 9, Grimes 6-11 3-5 17, Todd 3-12 4-5 11, Wilson 0-1 0-0 0, Lockhard 0-4 0-0 0, Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Manley 0-1 0-0 0, Morris 1-5 7-8 9. Totals 17-58 18-23 56.
UAA (87) -- Gibcus 9-12 2-4 20, MacKelvie 1-3 3-4 5, Lauwers 1-2 3-4 5, Stafford 4-6 0-1 9, Fossman 6-7 6-6 21, Leckband 2-3 0-0 5, Erickson 0-0 0-0 0, Little 2-5 2-3 6, Demissie 3-7 3-8 10, Spickerman 3-5 0-0 6. Totals 31-50 19-30 87.
Washington Adventist 22 34 -- 56
UAA 46 41 -- 87
3-point goals -- WA 4-17 (Meredith 0-2, Adeyeye 1-3, Grimes 2-5, Todd 1-5, Wilson 0-1, Lockhart 0-1), UAA 6-14 (Lauwers 0-1, Stafford 1-3, Fossman 3-4, Leckband 1-2, Demissie 1-4. Rebounds -- WA 34 (Grimes 6), UAA 33 (Leckband 7). Total fouls -- WA 29, UAA 19. Fouled out --Meredith, A. Berry, Spickerman. Assists -- WA 11 (Meredith 3, Grimes 3), UAA 25 (Little 8). Turnovers -- WA 16 (Adeyeye 4), UAA 13 (MacKelvie 5). Steals -- WA 10 (Adeyeye 4), UAA 7 (Fossman 3). Blocked shots -- WA 2, UAA 5 (Spickerman 3). Referees -- McNew, Paz, Tovoli. A -- 541.