Hoops doubleheaders will be last games at UAA's old gymnasium

mnesper@adn.comFebruary 19, 2014 

UAA men's basketball head coach Rusty Osborne has fond memories of hosting the West Regional tournament six years ago.

The Seawolves capped a perfect home record with a win in the championship against BYU-Hawaii -- but it's the support of the green and gold faithful who packed the stands that was the highlight for Osborne.

"To be able to treat the fans of Anchorage to that tournament -- and to be able to win it -- was very special," he said.

UAA is hoping for a similar atmosphere, and result, when the Seawolves take the floor for the final time at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex -- they'll move to the new Alaska Airlines Center next season. UAA's men host Saint Martin's on Thursday and Western Oregon on Saturday while the women welcome Simon Fraser and Western Washington.

It's also senior week for UAA's three seniors -- Colton Lauwers and Kyle Fossman for the men, Kylie Burns for the women. For 2009 Dimond High grad Lauwers, playing in the last game at the familiar, old gym will be special.

"It's fun to know that you'll play the last official UAA game in it," he said.

The "sunken" court raises the decibel level, making Wells Fargo a great place to call home, senior Kyle Fossman said.

"It gets pretty loud," he said. "The atmosphere there is pretty cool."

Burns agreed.

"We had some awesome fans that came out for every game," she said. "They've always been there."

Reaching the Elite 8 in 2012 and opening this season in front of family and friends at Kansas State are top memories for Burns -- on the court, that is. But basketball achievements are a minor part of what the Kansas native will take away from Alaska. Burns will leave UAA with a degree in dietetics (she wants to be a dietician) and lifelong friends.

"There's more to it than just basketball," she said.

A lot of those friendships were forged on the court this year, said Burns, a four-year player.

"This is probably one of the closest teams I've been a part of," she said.

Four-year player Fossman of Haines has a skill set as good as his leadership, Osborne said.

"He brings a tremendous work ethic. Great teammate. Great in the locker room.

"It's been a special four years to be able to coach him," Osborne said.

Osborne has relied on Lauwers to serve as the team's utility man. The three-year player has spent time at every position.

"He's been a team guy and filled in wherever we need him," Osborne said. "Without him, I don't know what we'd do."

Lauwers is pursuing a degree in physical education, and Fossman is an accounting major.

In their last meetings, UAA's men (15-11 overall, 8-7 GNAC) edged Saint Martin's (8-14, 5-9) by a point and cruised past Western Oregon (14-10, 7-7) by 34 points. The Seawolves have only lost a combined four games to both opponents at home.

UAA will need to play tough defense to if it wants two victories, Fossman said.

UAA's women (16-6 overall, 9-5 GNAC) lost close games in their last meetings with Simon Fraser (16-6, 10-4) and Western Washington (15-8, 11-4). Along with avenging those losses, it's senior week and the final games at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex. Plenty of motivation for the team, Burns said.

"You don't want to end on a loss."

Stafford earns honor

UAA junior Teancum Stafford was named to the Capital One Academic All-America Second Team.

The 6-foot-5 guard has a 4.0 GPA and is pursuing a psychology degree. Teancum, of Auburn, Wash., leads the Seawolves with 7.4 rebounds per game and averages 13.4 points per game.

Stafford is the third player in program history to earn Academic All-American status, joining his brother Rick, a second-team pick in 1997, and Liam Gibcus, a third-teamer last season.

Reach Mike Nesper at mnesper@adn.com or 257-4335.

Last hurrah

The Wells Fargo Sports Complex will host its final games this week. Fans attending Saturday's games will receive a free "white-out" T-shirt to commemorate the final basketball games to be played in the old gym.

Thursday

UAA women vs. Simon Fraser, 5:15 p.m.

UAA men vs. Saint Martin's, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday

UAA women vs. Western Washington, 5:15 p.m.

UAA men vs. Western Oregon, 7:30 p.m.

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