The UAA men's basketball team returns to action tonight for a home game with national import.
In a battle between nationally ranked opponents, the Seawolves take on Western Washington at 7 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex.
UAA (8-4 overall, 1-0 Great Northwest Athletic Conference) faces the Vikings (8-2, 2-0) in a game that will decide the early favorite in the GNAC -- and perhaps the West Region. UAA is ranked 23rd in the nation and Western is ranked 15th among Division II teams.
The Vikings are the two-time GNAC and West Region champions -- and the 2012 national champions.
They come to town on a rare, two-game losing streak. Losses to Cal State-San Bernardino and 11th-ranked Tarleton State represent the first time Western Washington has lost back-to-back games in three seasons.
For the Seawolves to extend Western's losing streak, they will have to end one of their own. UAA has lost six straight games to the Vikings, with its last win way back in February 2010. On the plus side: five of those six straight losses to Western Washington were by single digits.
UAA, which hasn't played since Dec. 17, will rely on an explosive backcourt that includes high-scoring Travis Thompson and Kyle Fossman and play-making Brian McGill.
Thompson, a 6-foot-1 junior from Dimond High, is the GNAC's second leading scorer and the nation's 16th leading scorer. He averages 22.8 points and is hitting 45.9 of his 3-pointers and 92.4 percent of his free throws. Fossman, a 6-foot senior, is worth 17.2 points a game and has posted shooting percentages similar to Thompson's. Both bring down about four rebounds a game.
McGill, a 6-2 sophomore, is a marvel at point guard, dishing 7.3 assists per game and setting a single-game school and conference record with 20 in a game against Northland International. He also contributes 17.8 points a game.
Completing the starting lineup is strong and sturdy 6-5 forward Teancom Stafford (13.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and a nice outside shooting touch) and 6-9 center Brad Mears (5.3 points, 2.8 rebounds). Waiting in the wings to relieve anyone from McGill to Mears is Colton Lauwers, another Dimond grad.
Western Washington has a lethal inside-outside combination in 6-3 senior guard Richard Woodworth (17.5 points, 3.9 assists, 3.3 rebounds) and 6-9 senior center Austin Bragg (15.4 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.6 blocks).
Thursday's game is the first of two GNAC contests this week for the Seawolves. They play Simon Fraser (7-3 overall, 0-2 GNAC) Saturday at 7 p.m.