UAA racks third straight win with 79-65 GNAC win over Billings

jpeters@adn.comNovember 29, 2012 

— The UAA men’s basketball team is a work in progress, but fortunately for the 25th-ranked Seawolves, the team continues to work winning into that process.

UAA picked up its seventh win in eight games Thursday at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex, opening the Great Northwest Athletic Conference season with a 79-65 victory over Montana State Billings.

The win, which followed two straight victories in last week's Great Alaska Shootout, came with enough highlights to keep the crowd involved but enough mistakes to keep UAA coach Rusty Osborne frustrated.

“We certainly tried our best to play hard,” said UAA sophomore Teancum Stafford, who finished with 16 points and eight rebounds. “We’re glad to have the win, but we know there are a lot of things that coach wants us to do better. Coach really does know what’s best.”

UAA (7-1 overall, 1-0 GNAC) charged to an early lead and held steady against the Yellowjackets (4-3, 0-1 GNAC). The Seawolves led by as many as 13 points in the first half before settling for a 42-34 lead at intermission and never led by fewer than four points in the second half.

Senior center Liam Gibcus showed off some nifty post moves and some deft shooting touch in recording his second career double-double, scoring 15 points and pulling down a career-high 13 rebounds. Juniors Kyle Fossman and Mike MacKelvie knocked in 12 and 10 points, respectively.

Jarrell Crayton scored a game-high 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting for Billings.

UAA was outshot 45.1 percent to 42.4 percent from the field, but made up for it by winning the rebounding battle 48-25, an effort that included an impressive 25 offensive boards.

“If you’re playing defense for 30 seconds and then getting a stop, but then they’re getting the offensive rebound and you’re playing defense for another 30 seconds, that puts a lot of pressure on you,” Billings coach Jamie Stevens said. “I think they are really, really good, just because they run really good stuff.”

Most of UAA’s mistakes came within the execution of plays, Osborne said, and were the kind of mistakes fans probably wouldn’t notice.

 “I had to take three guys out in a row, because we taught ’em how to guard something and they all did it wrong,” Osborne said. “It’s those types of little things that any fan, if they weren’t in practice, wouldn’t know the mistake was being made.”

Fans did notice and show appreciation for some big second-half plays by senior Abebe Demissie that helped to close the win. With just less than 14 minutes remaining and the Seawolves up 10, Demissie brought fans out of their seats when he soared through the air across the key to intercept a pass. He tapped the ball to Christian Leckband before his feet hit the ground, giving possession to the Seawolves.

Later, Demissie delivered UAA’s only dunk of the night on a wide-open fast break that put the Seawolves up 70-57 with 5:24 to play. The dunk was one of three baskets from Demissie, who otherwise suffered through a tough night. Despite some nice looks from long range, he hit just 1 of 8 attempts from the 3-point line.

“My shot wasn’t falling at all tonight, so I had to do other things,” Demissie said. “Especially when you have a night like that, it’s nice to get an easy lay-in.”

UAA entertains No. 13-ranked Seattle Pacific in a GNAC game on Saturday.


  Find Jeremy Peters at or call him at 257-4335.



MSU-BILLINGS (65) — Crayton 9-13 3-7 21; Johnson 4-9 4-5 12; McDade  3-10 4-4 11; Arnold 2-6 1-2 6; Cusworth  2-6 0-0 5; Trabing 1-1 3-6 5; Ridgeway 1-2 0-0 3; Wallace 1-2 0-0 2; Desin  0-0 0-0 0; Hatcher 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 23-51 15-24 65.

UAA (79) — Stafford 5-13 4-5 16; Gibcus 6-10 3-3 15; Fossman 4-8 2-2 12; MacKelvie 4-7 0-0 10; Demissie 3-11 0-0 7; Little 2-4 1-2 6; Spickerman  2-6 2-2 6; Leckband  2-5 0-0 5; Lauwers 0-2 2-2 2; Erickson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-66 14-16 79.

MSU-Billings 34   31  —  65

UAA 42   37  —  79

3-point goals — MSU 4-13 (McDade 1-3; Cusworth 1-4; Arnold 1-2; Ridgeway 1-2; Hatcher 0-1; Johnson 0-1), UAA 9-27 (MacKelvie 2-3; Stafford 2-6; Fossman 2-4; Leckband 1-2; Little 1-1; Demissie 1-8; Lauwers 0-2; Spickerman 0-1). Total fouls — MSU 16, UAA 20. Fouled out — Crayton.  Rebounds — MSU 25 (Hatcher 7), UAA 48 (Gibcus 13). Assists — MSU 16 (Arnold 4; McDade 4), UAA 19 (Stafford 4). Steals — MSU 6 (Crayton 2), UAA 3. Turnovers — MSU 8 (Arnold 3), UAA 10 (Stafford 5). Blocked shots — MSU 3 (Crayton 2), UAA 5 (MacKelvie 2). Referees  — Bruland, Grant, McNew. A — 444.





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