After opening the Great Alaska Shootout with one of their worst beatings in their flagship event, the Seawolves wrapped things up Saturday with one of their greatest showings in tournament history.
The UAA men's basketball team beat Ball State 62-44 at Sullivan Arena to capture fourth place in the eight-team Shootout. The 44 points are the fewest the Seawolves have ever surrendered to a Division I team.
The win, UAA's second straight over a D-I opponent, marked the fifth time in 33 Shootouts the Seawolves have recorded two tournament victories. They beat Houston Baptist 74-67 on Friday, one day after suffering a 32-point loss to Weber State.
"We had to forget about it," guard Drew Robinson said of the first-round shellacking. "It showed our mental toughness to be able to rebound from that, because we played horrible.
"We showed our mental fortitude and we stuck to what we do best."
And what the Seawolves (3-3) do best is play defense.
Against Ball State (3-3), they faced a team that took St. John's into overtime before losing 78-73 in the first round and that whipped Southern Utah 73-54 on Friday.
"As we left the arena yesterday after watching them play, we knew it was not going to be an easy night of sleep for the coaching staff," UAA coach Rusty Osborne said. "We wanted to keep the game in the 50s. We thought if we could keep the game in the 50s, we had a really, really legitimate shot to win it.
"If we'd get into the 70s and 80s, there was about an 80-percent chance they would win."
The Seawolves kept the Cardinals in the 40s, 30 points below Ball State's season average. Until Ball State guard Randy Davis got open for some late buckets, UAA contested nearly every shot and held the Cardinals to a 29.2 shooting percentage.
Forward Taylor Rohde disrupted the inside game of Ball State's usually productive Jerrod Jones and the Seawolves turned most of the other Cardinals into non-factors offensively.
Jones, a 6-foot-9 forward, had four of his team-high 11 points in the first six minutes when Ball State grabbed a 7-0 lead, but he struggled the rest of the game.
UAA missed nine straight shots before Rohde broke the ice with a free throw. After getting the ball back on a Ball State foul, freshman Travis Thompson swished a 3-pointer that got both him and the Seawolves going.
"It was a great relief to finally get my first point at the Great Alaska Shootout," said Thompson, a guard from Dimond High who missed a free throw and a 3-pointer in his first two Shootout games. "It felt like a weight off my shoulders."
Thompson's 3-pointer was the first of four by the Seawolves in the first half. Casey Robinson tied the score 12-12 with a bomb from the top of the key, and then he and Kyle Fossman -- a freshman from Haines -- hit back-to-back treys to give UAA a 19-14 lead.
The Seawolves led 28-21 at the break after a first half during which they committed just one turnover. They had eight for the game.
Playing a deliberate offense, UAA took bunches of time off the clock on nearly every possession. Even when Ball State pressed, the Seawolves kept their cool, turning the ball over just once against the press.
"We've got a bunch of guys who are experienced and who can handle the ball," said point guard Drew Robinson. "All I really wanted to do was control the tempo and communicate with our guys."
Defensively the Seawolves seldom gave up anything in transition -- the lack of turnovers helped -- and packed the lane to keep Jones and his teammates from executing inside.
Ball State coach Billy Taylor said it was a case of one team sticking to its game plan and the other team not.
"Our game plan was to compete defensively and get on the glass, and we did not do that," he said. "We did not rebound the basketball and we didn't make an impact on the offensive glass."
UAA owned a 32-29 rebounding advantage, with 25 of its boards coming on the defensive end. Eight guys had rebounds, with Rohde leading the way with seven.
Thompson was UAA's leading scorer with 13, five of which came in the opening minutes of the second half when UAA stretched its lead to 35-21.
Ball State cut the margin to six with six minutes to play before Thompson hit his third 3-pointer of the game for a 44-35 lead.
Brandon Walker scored 12 hard-earned points and added four rebounds, three assists and two steals while playing tireless defense. Casey Robinson finished with 10 points on 4 of 6 shooting, guard Steve White came off the bench to provide energy, poise, a couple big baskets and no turnovers despite handling the ball often.
UAA is back in action Friday and Saturday in Fairbanks, where the Seawolves will play Hawaii Pacific and British Columbia -- but not UAF -- at the Glacier Classic.
Find Beth Bragg at adn.com/contact/bbragg or call her at 257-4335.
BALL STATE (44) -- Perry 1-5 2-2 4, Jones 5-14 1-3 11, Davis 3-6 2-3 9, Scaife 1-7 6-7 9, Berry 1-5 1-1 3, Kamieniecki 1-2 0-0 2, Copeland 0-0 0-0 0, Robinson 1-5 1-2 3, Bond 0-0 0-0 0, Sneed 1-4 1-2 3. Totals 14-48 14-20 44.
UAA (62) -- Walker 3-12 6-7 12, Rohde 2-7 2-4 6, C. Robinson 4-6 0-0 10, D. Robinson 0-2 6-6 6, Gill 0-1 0-0 0, Thompson 4-7 2-2 13, White 2-2 1-2 5, Fossman 1-2 0-0 3, Hearn 0-0 0-0 0, Gibcus 0-0 0-0 0, Peterson 2-3 3-7 7. Totals 18-42 20-28 62.
Ball State 21 23 -- 44
UAA 28 34 -- 62
3-point goals -- Ball State 2-13 (Davis 1-4, Scaife 1-5, Berry 0-3, Robinson 0-1), UAA 6-18 (Walker 0-5, C. Robinson 2-4, D. Robinson 0-2, Gill 0-1, Thompson 3-5, Fossman 1-1). Total fouls -- Ball State 22, UAA 16. Fouled out -- Jones. Rebounds -- Ball State 29 (Jones 10), UAA 32 (Rohde 7). Turnovers -- Ball State 10 (Davis 4), UAA 8 (D. Robinson 3). Assists -- Ball State 8 (Berry 4), UAA 14 (D. Robinson 4). Steals -- Ball State 2, UAA 5 (Walker 2, D. Robinson 2). Blocks -- Ball State 2, UAA 4 (Rohde 2). Officials -- Cota, Chelette, McNew.
By BETH BRAGG