Indiana State got the bounce-back victory it was desperate for Friday afternoon at Sullivan Arena, although it was the Seawolves who spent the game bouncing back.
The Sycamores rebounded from a first-round loss to hand the UAA men's basketball team a 97-87 setback in the consolation bracket of the Carrs-Safeway Great Alaska Shootout.
It could have been a blowout. Indiana State threatened to pull away a number of times, leading by nine points late in the first half before UAA made it a three-point game at halftime and opening up leads of 12 and 16 points in the second half only to see the Seawolves trim the gap to seven points on both occasions.
"We just have a lot of guys that don't want to quit," senior Kyle Fossman said. "Everyone on the team gives a full effort no matter what. Even if we lose our composure, we get it back. We always feel like we've got a chance to win."
The loss puts UAA in Saturday's noon game against Denver. The Seawolves (5-3) are hoping to avoid their first Shootout shutout since 2007.
Fossman matched his career-high with 28 points, hitting 8 of 14 shots and all seven of his free throws. He was 5 of 9 from 3-point range in a game where the rest of the team was 6 of 21.
UAA stayed in the game despite a huge size advantage that led to Indiana State's 37-26 rebounding edge. The Seawolves only managed six offensive rebounds, and two of them came on the same possession with 3 minutes, 56 seconds left.
Teancum Stafford (15 points, seven rebounds) got the second of those offensive boards and converted to cut the Sycamore lead to 85-78 -- six minutes earlier, ISU led by 16.
UAA called a timeout and returned to the court with energy, almost getting a steal. Then, with the shot clocking winding down, Manny Arop sank a 3-pointer from the top of the key to make it a 10-point game with 2:55 left.
UAA again got within seven, 92-85, at 1:32 on Fossman's final 3-pointer, which was also UAA's final field goal.
All five starters scored in double figures for Indiana State (4-2) and four starters hit double figures for UAA.
Early in the second half, the Sycamores were hot enough to warm up the whole city. They hit 11 of their first 15 shots (73.3 percent) to lead 78-62 with 10:14 left and were threatening to bury the Seawolves. A couple of minutes later, UAA was within eight, 79-71.
"(UAA) wasn't gonna quit at all," Indiana State coach Greg Lansing said. "They fought back every time. They're a difficult team to guard, a dangerous game to guard."
UAA essentially played with five guards for most of them, although 6-9 forward Brad Mears and 6-6 forward Christian Leckband played a combined 36 minutes. Except for seven combined minutes from Boomer Blossom and Jackson McTier, UAA relied on five guys who are guards or swingmen -- 6-0 Fossman, 6-5 Stafford, 6-1 Travis Thompson (11 points), 6-1 Brian McGill (19 points) and 6-3 Colton Lauwers (10 points). Lauwers, UAA's point guard last season, took on Indiana State's post players defensively.
Lansing said facing a five-guard lineup was difficult defensively, because UAA's many shooters allowed the Seawolves to spread out on the floor. Among his adjustments was a change in the starting lineup -- 6-6 Khristian Smith (11 points) started in place of 6-10 Jake Kitchell to give the Sycamores more mobility.
Justin Gant, a 6-9 junior, killed the Seawolves with 19 points and six rebounds, proving nearly unstoppable inside while also displaying a nice outside shooting touch. Arop tossed in 17 points, Dawon Cummings added 15 and Jake Odum had 13.
Odum racked up a double-double by dishing 10 assists, and Cummings came close with nine assists. Together, the two guards committed one turnover.
"This was just an important and difficult bounce-back game for us," Lansing said. "But we played hard and earned the right to get the win."
Indiana State, a top 10 team in collegeinsider.com's mid-major poll, was coming off a one-point loss to Tulsa in Wednesday's first round and was eager to get past that defeat.
"We said we can't let Tulsa beat us twice," Odum said. "We had to bounce back today."
UAA was coming off a heartbreaker too, a 73-70 loss to TCU. Fossman, who had a subpar 3 of 11 shooting performance and finished with seven points, committed a turnover on UAA's final possession.
"We exchanged texts around 2 a.m.," UAA coach Rusty Osborne said, "and I told him, 'I'll go to war and battle with you anytime.' I didn't expect 28 points, no, but I expected a Kyle Fossman game."
Fossman, a four-year player from Haines, added seven rebounds and four assists while building on the 15.3 scoring average he brought into the game. He credited team chemistry to UAA's ability to keep the bigger, stronger, more gifted Sycamores from running away with it.
"When things go bad, certain teams go bad," he said. A different team may have lost by 20, Fossman said, "but this team is a collective group that wants to stop those runs."
"We want to play well for each other," he said.
Reach Beth Bragg at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.
INDIANA STATE (97) -- Gant 8-14 2-2 19, Smith 5-7 1-2 11, Arop 7-11 0-0 17, Cummings 4-9 5-6 15, Odum 3-6 7-10 13, Kitchell 1-2 0-0 2, Eitel 2-6 1-2 7, Brown 3-4 1-1 7, Moore 2-2 0-0 4, Burnett 0-2 2-2 2. Totals 35-63 19-25 97.
UAA (87) -- Leckband 1-5 0-0 3, Stafford 6-9 1-3 15, McGill 8-12 2-2 19, Thompson 4-12 2-2 11, Fossman 8-14 7-7 28, Lauwers 3-7 3-3 10, Blossom 0-0 0-0 0, Mears 0-4 1-2 1, McTier 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-63 16-19 87.
3-point goals -- ISU 8-22 (Gant 1-3, Arop 3-6 Cummings 2-5, Odum 0-1, Eitel 2-5, Burnett 0-2), UAA 11-30 (Leckband 1-4, Stafford 2-5, McGill 1-1, Thompson 1-7, Fossman 5-9, Lauwers 1-4). Rebounds -- ISU 37 (three with 6), UAA 26 (Stafford 7, Fossman 7). Total fouls -- ISU 18, UAA 18. Fouled out -- none. Assists -- ISU 23 (Odum 10, Cummings 9), UAA 16 (Fossman 4). Turnovers -- ISU 9 (Arop 3), UAA 9 (Lauwers 4). Blocks -- ISU 2, UAA 3 (Stafford 2). Steals -- ISU 6 (Odum 2), UAA 4 (Fossman 2, Lauwers 2). Officials -- Flannery, Thomson, Watts.