UAA women play two at home; men return to road

bbragg@adn.comJanuary 29, 2014 

Halftime is about to end in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. The second half of the league season begins this week, bringing with it a chance for the UAA women to get back on track and a chance for the men to get back on TV.

The UAA women, who are coming off two straight losses on the road, are home for games against Central Washington on Thursday and Northwest Nazarene on Saturday at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex.

The men are on the road for games Thursday against Simon Fraser and Saturday against Western Washington. The Saturday game doesn't tipoff until 8 p.m. AST to accommodate the Root Sports network, which is televising the game. It can be seen live in Anchorage on cable channel 36.

The women lost two games on the road last week, by a combined 10 points, to drop into the middle of the GNAC pack with a 5-4 record (12-5 overall).

The Seawolves are tied for fifth place in the 10-team league, two games out of first place heading into games against opponents that rank below them in the standings -- last-place Central Washington is 1-8; seventh-place Northwest Nazarene is 4-5.

"We're still right there in the mix to compete for a conference championship," coach Ryan McCarthy said at a press conference earlier this week.

McCarthy and his team should be amply motivated. Not only do the Seawolves need wins this week to stay in the league race, they could have a little payback on their minds when it comes to Northwest Nazarene.

When the Crusaders hosted UAA earlier this season, they beat the Seawolves 86-80 win in a game with a big disparities in fouls and free throws. UAA was called for 35 fouls; Northwest Nazarene was called for 20. Northwest Nazarene was 38 of 46 from the line; UAA was 15 of 21.

The UAA men (12-8 overall, 5-4 GNAC) will face the GNAC's best and the worst this week. Last-place Simon Fraser is 1-8; first-place Western Washington is 7-2 and shares the league lead with Seattle Pacific and UAF.

It's the second straight week the men have played on the road. Last week, they earned their first road wins of the league season, blasting Western Oregon by 34 points and edging Saint Martin's by one point.

Root Sports could get a great game out of the Seawolves and Vikings on Saturday. Both teams are among the most successful and consistent programs in Division II, and they have a history of playing exciting games. Western Washington has won the last seven meetings, but five of those wins have been decided by fewer than 10 points.

The game will mark the second time the Seawolves have played on TV this season -- their first-round game in the Great Alaska Shootout was aired by the CBS Sports Network.

Even though online coverage makes it easy to follow the Seawolves every time they play, at home or on the road, being on TV remains special, UAA coach Rusty Osborne said.

"Any time we can get the university publicity on the air, get (the school) in front of kid, get the commentators talking about the quality of competition, it's a benefit to us," he said.

Reach Beth Bragg at bbragg@adn.com or 257-4335.

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