UAA men take care of ball, rout Simon Fraser

dwoody@adcomFebruary 21, 2014 

Most of us know that panicky feeling -- dread, really -- in the moment you realize you may have lost your cell phone. Or that sinking feeling, just as you firmly close the locked door of your home, and are fairly certain your keys remain inside. Perhaps losing your ID on vacation is the nightmare you have endured.

On the basketball court, the UAA men rarely suffer the equivalent of losing the principal object of value -- the basketball. They always seem to have a grip on the goods.

So it was again Thursday night when the Seawolves committed a mere four turnovers in their 88-76 cruise past Saint Martin's to earn their third consecutive win in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.

Such care has become a UAA trademark this season, when they have twice set the school record for fewest turnovers with three and on four occasions coughed up the ball just four times in a game. In 17 of its 27 games, UAA has limited itself to single-digit turnovers.

The Seawolves (16-11, 9-7 GNAC) have proved so responsible that they entered the evening at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex leading Division II in fewest average turnovers with just 8.2 per game. That number fell to 8.0 after they made easy work of the Saints (8-15, 5-10 GNAC).

"We take care of the ball and we make free throws,'' said UAA coach Rusty Osborne.

Indeed, the Seawolves made 21 of their 23 free throws (91.3 percent) on Thursday to raise their season average to 80.0 percent.

UAA's ability to limit turnovers gives it more possessions, one of Osborne's aims, and places even more value on its other strength, shooting accuracy. The Seawolves make 39.5 percent of their 3-point attempts and 51.2 percent of their shots from inside the arc.

"Lately, we've recruited a lot of good shooters and ball-handlers,'' Osborne said. "Our goal is to have more possessions than the other team.''

Five guards get principal minutes for the Seawolves -- five started Thursday -- so the ball is often in the hands of players accustomed to frequent possession and less likely to mishandle it.

"It makes the game easier,'' said UAA senior guard Colton Lauwers.

And it makes valuing the basketball something so routine that Osborne and staff don't have to constantly harp on it.

"It's nice because we haven't had to focus on it,'' said Seawolves senior guard Kyle Fossman.

Thursday, the Seawolves never trailed. Fossman and guard Travis Thompson hit 3-pointers out of the gate and UAA glided to a 42-31 halftime edge.

A 6-0 run to open the second half -- a Thompson lay-up, a Lauwers lay-up and Fossman's two free throws -- gained a 17-point cushion. That lead ballooned to 21 with more than 12 minutes to go and Saint Martin's never whittled it to single digits.

Sophomore guard Brian McGill led UAA's attack with a splendid shooting night that produced a game-high 27 points, the second-highest scoring game of his career. He hit 8 of 12 shots from the field, including both his 3-point attempts, and made 9 of 10 free throws.

Fossman furnished 18 points and six assists -- all of his points from the field came on 5 of 9 shooting from distance -- and Thompson added 15 points and five assists.

Evan Coulter led Saint Martin's with 23 points, Ryan Rogers added 19 and Riley Carel had 17 points and a game-high eight assists. The Saints shot 51.5 percent from the field, a figure enhanced by a series of late lay-ups when UAA was content to protect against 3-pointers and felt secure in its ability to sink free throws with the Saints fouling.

UAA on Saturday entertains Western Oregon (15-10, 8-7 GNAC), a 71-70 winner at UAF on Thursday, in the final basketball game at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex. The Seawolves men and women next season begin playing in the school's new Alaska Airlines Center.

Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog .

SAINT MARTIN'S (76) -- Rogers 9-16 0-0 19, Dodson 0-4 0-0 0, Coulter 10-13 2-3 23, Carel 7-13 2-2 17, Copp 1-4 0-0 3, Bianchini 1-3 0-0 2, Shannon 3-7 0-0 6, Jensen 2-3 0-0 4, Norman 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 34-66 4-5 76.

UAA (88) -- Lauwers 2-8 4-4 9, Stafford 4-11 0-0 9, McGill 8-12 9-10 27, Thompson 5-8 3-3 15, Fossman 5-9 3-4 18, Leckband 1-4 0-0 3, Baisa 0-0 0-0 0, Blossom 1-2 0-0 3, Mears 1-6 2-2 4. Totals 27-60 21-23 88.

Saint Martin's 31 45 -- 76

UAA 42 46 -- 88

3-point goals -- Saint Martin's 4-14 (Rogers 1-3, Coulter 1-2, Carel 1-4, Copp 1-2, Bianchini 0-1, Norman 0-2), UAA 13-34 (Lauwers 1-6, Stafford 1-7, McGill 2-2, Thompson 2-5, Fossman 5-9, Leckband 1-3, Blossom 1-2). Rebounds -- Saint Martin's 36 (Dodson 8), UAA 28 (Thompson 5). Assists -- Saint Martin's 19 (Carel 8), UAA 25 (Fossman 6). Turnovers -- Saint Martin's 11 (three with 2), UAA 4 (McGill 2, Thompson 2). Blocks -- Saint Martin's 5 (Dodson 3), UAA 3. Steals -- Saint Martin's 3 (Carel 2), UAA 3. A -- 592. Officials -- Shamion, McNew, Grant.

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