Five minutes before UAA's game against Simon Fraser University, Colton Lauwers told his coach he was too sick to play.
About two hours later, Lauwers scrambled for the ball and fed it to teammate Travis Thompson for a layup that lifted the UAA men's basketball team to a 65-64 Great Northwest Athletic Conference victory Thursday in Burnaby, British Columbia.
The game featured remarkable recoveries by both Lauwers and the Seawolves, who trailed by as many as 17 points before coming to life in the second half.
The win was the third straight on the road and the second straight by a single point for the Seawolves (13-8 overall, 6-4 GNAC). UAA beat Western Oregon and Saint Martin's last week, traveled back to Anchorage for a couple of days before leaving again, this time for a trip that included a swing through Canada.
"I am proud of our perseverance," UAA coach Rusty Osborne said by email. "We have traveled back and forth to Anchorage plus the driving time involved and fought hard for three wins.
"We are looking forward to Saturday's game and then getting back to Anchorage and in front of our fans."
Complicating matters for the Seawolves: Lauwers and a couple of other players are battling illnesses. And a border crossing that usually takes 10 minutes took 50 on Thursday, which meant the Seawolves arrived at the gym a little later than planned.
When Simon Fraser opened with a 30-13 run, things looked grim for the Seawolves.
"It would've been easy to mail it in and say, 'Let's move on to the next one,' '' Osborne told KAFC Radio.
Instead, UAA will take a three-game winning streak into Saturday's game against Western Washington, which will be aired live at 8 p.m. on Root Sports (cable channel 36).
Trailing 41-32 at the break, the Seawolves dominated the second half, opening with a 14-4 run that included four 3-pointers, two from Thompson and one apiece from Teancum Stafford and Kyle Fossman.
Thompson's second trey of that run, at 14:36, gave UAA its first lead of the game, 46-45.
The lead changed hands six times after that. The Clan (8-10, 1-9) got their final lead with 90 seconds left on Justin Cole's bank shot, 64-65.
Both teams were scoreless on their next possessions. Fossman rebounded Simon Fraser's miss with about 30 seconds left, setting the scene for Lauwers and Thompson, former high school teammates at Dimond High.
UAA called a timeout with 28 seconds left, didn't like what it saw, and used its final timeout with 16 seconds left. With about six seconds left, UAA nearly lost the ball but Lauwers scrambled for it and got it to Thompson in the low post for the layup with 3.8 seconds left.
Simon Fraser's buzzer shot, from Sango Niang near the halfcourt line, banged off the backboard and rim, ending the upset bid by the GNAC's last-place team.
Thompson, a 6-foot-1 junior guard, finished with 25 points, 14 in the second half. Brian McGill, who scored four straight points late in the game, finished with 14 points and four assists, and Fossman added 11 points and four assists.
Thompson and McGill were a combined 12 of 13 from the foul line, helping UAA to a 15-17 showing. Simon Fraser was 7 of 11.
Cole scored 18 and Taylor Dunn 13 for the Clan, who hit 50 percent of their shots. The Seawolves suffered through a subpar shooting performance, hitting 35 percent (21 of 60).
Defense brought the Seawolves back. After giving up 30 points in the first 10 minutes, they surrendered 34 in the final 30, in part by doing a better job on Simon Fraser's big men, 6-9 David Gebru (11 points, 6 rebounds) and 6-6 Ibrahim Appiah (10 points, 11 rebounds), who did most of their damage in the first half.
After committing nine turnovers in the first half, UAA had one the entire second half. And it gritted out a 35-30 rebounding advantage, with Stafford getting 10 and Thompson a career-high nine. Brad Mears, a 6-9 post who was UAA's only player over 6-5 with significant minutes Thursday, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked two shots.
"It was a gutsy comeback for our team," Osborne emailed. "Our defensive effort the last 30 minutes was outstanding."
Lauwers, a 6-3 senior, wound up playing 20 minutes off the bench. He contributed three points, the game-winning assist and provided critical interior defense.
"I thought the key was Colton," Osborne told KAFC. "He did a great job in the post battling defensively, and he helped us offensive by moving the ball."
Especially on UAA's final play, when what could have been a turnover became the game-winner.
"Colton stayed with it, kept his cool and found Travis," Osborne said.
Reach Beth Bragg at email@example.com or 257-4335.
UAA (65) -- Stafford 3-11 1-2 8, Mears 2-7 0-0 4, McGill 4-12 6-7 14, Thompson 8-17 6-6 25, Fossman 3-11 2-2 11, Leckband 0-0 0-0 0, Lauwers 1-2 0-0 3, Blossom 0-0 0-0 0, McTier 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-60 15-17 65.
SIMON FRASER (64) -- Appiah 4-5 2-2 10, Dunn 5-11 0-1 13, Gebru 4-9 3-6 11, Niang 2-8 0-0 4, Cole 7-13 2-2 18, Staudacher 3-4 0-0 8, Hamilton 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 25-51 7-11 64.
3-pointers -- UAA 8-29 (Stafford 1-5, McGill 0-1, Thompson 3-11, Fossman 3-10, Lauwers 1-2), Simon Fraser 7-18 (Dunn 3-5, Gebru 0-2, Niang 0-2, Cole 2-6, Staudacher 2-2, Hamilton 0-1). Rebounds -- UAA 35 (Stafford 10), Simon Fraser 30 (Appiah 11). Total fouls -- UAA 13, Simon Fraser 16. Fouled out -- none. Assists -- UAA 12 (McGill 4, Fossman 4), Simon Fraser 18 (Niang 8). Turnovers -- UAA 10 (three with 2), Simon Fraser 12 (Gebru 4). Blocks -- UAA 2 (Mears 2), Simon Fraser 1. Steals -- UAA 4, Simon Fraser 6 (Cole 3). A -- 386. Officials -- Mason, Grant, Crider.
Stafford honored for academics
UAA's Teancum Stafford parlayed a perfect GPA into a spot on the NCAA Division II West Region all-academic team, one of five men's basketball players from 32 schools to earn the honor.
Stafford, a psychology major, is the only 4.0 student on the Capital One Academic All-District 8 team announced Thursday.
The 6-foot-5 swingman from Auburn, Wash., is in his second year at UAA after transferring from Utah's Snow College. He leads the Seawolves and ranked third in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference in rebounding with 8.2 per game.
Others on the team include Seattle Pacific's David Downs and Riley Stockton, Dominican's Connor Haysbert and Chico State's Sean Park.