For the first time since 2005, the UAA women's basketball team exited the Great Alaska Shootout without a victory, and even though it might be tempting to contend that wins against Division I teams shouldn't be expected from Division II teams, the Seawolves know better.
A day after losing to the seventh-ranked team in the nation, the Seawolves stumbled at the end of regulation and in overtime to fall 90-84 to Central Michigan in the consolation game Thursday at Sullivan Arena.
The Seawolves had the superior inside game against the Chippewas of the Mid-America Conference and no shortage of skilled players, but they didn't have the toughness that has been a hallmark of Tim Moser's teams the last five seasons -- a span in which UAA reached five straight Shootout championships games and won four of them.
Senior forwards Kaylie Robison (22 points, 16 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocked shots) and Hanna Johansson (20 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists) played with uncompromising determination and did everything they could to carry the Seawolves, but not enough others followed their example.
Robison's resolve and rebounding produced the game of her UAA career and one that will go down in Shootout history -- in two games, Robison pulled down 29 rebounds to tie the two-game tournament record set in 1980. It's barely even fair to mention that if she had made the second of two free throws with 40 seconds left in regulation, Brandie Baker's deep 3-pointer for Central Michigan with 17 seconds left would've have made it a one-point game in UAA's favor instead of a tied game that required overtime.
But UAA's backcourt crumbled, missing a slew of shots in the first half and then -- more critically -- succumbing to a full-court press late in the second half and in overtime.
"Our two point guards had 10 turnovers. That's unacceptable," Moser said. "We're not having great floor leadership. Our kids weren't tough enough today."
Guards Bruna Deichmann and Sasha King combined for 11 of UAA's 18 turnovers and no combination of players managed to break Central Michigan's press, even though it was the second straight day the Seawolves faced the same pressure.
Up by 10 points with five minutes left, the Seawolves (4-2) watched their lead vanished when Central Michigan (1-4) unleashed its press.
They turned the ball over on three out of four possessions and each time the Chippewas cashed in. The third of those turnovers led to a driving bucket by Baker that cut UAA's lead to 70-68. The teams traded baskets and then Robison had a chance to stretch UAA's lead to four points when she collected the rebound of a Baker miss and drew a foul. She made her first free throw to give UAA a 73-70 lead with 40 seconds left, but Baker's 3-pointer tied the game 73-73 and forced overtime.
Central Michigan took control in the extra period with two open 3-pointers by Kerby Tamm and the Chippewas sealed the victory by hitting five of six free throws in the final 38 minutes.
Close calls stopped counting for the Seawolves the day Moser arrived as coach, and that's true even when the opponent is a top-10 team like Miami, the nation's seventh-ranked team that beat UAA 72-55 in the opening round, or when it needs overtime to subdue them, as Central Michigan did.
"Basketball's basketball," Robison said. "Especially when you have the keys our coaches are giving us. We should be able to win.
"We just didn't execute."
Point guards Bruna Deichmann and Sasha King combined for 11 of UAA's 18 turnovers and the rest of the guards combined for three more.
"They did nothing for us and gave the ball to them," Moser said. The backcourt lacks confidence, he said, as well as the grit Johansson and especially Robison displayed.
"Kaylie had 22 (points) and 16 (rebounds) and we don't set up any plays for her. That's all hustle," Moser said. "If you don't score, then go chase the ball."
Cold shooting hurt UAA in the first half, during which Gritt Ryder's 3-pointer with three minutes left was the only jump shot the Seawolves scored. They warmed up in the second half and buried 5 of 12 3-pointers, bunching a couple of them to open up a 10-point lead.
But once Central Michigan went to its press, the Seawolves lead evaporated.
"If you watched Miami yesterday, the (press) was pretty effective against their guards," Central Michigan coach Sue Guevara said. "I was hesitant to press the whole game because of gas."
After the Chippewas lost in overtime to South Florida on Wednesday, Guevara said the bench would need to contribute on Thursday, and it did. With Tamm leading the way with 12, the bench scored 33 points and played long minutes.
Crystal Bradford, a 6-foot freshman marvel for the Chippewas, saw limited action because of foul trouble, but when she was on the court, she did almost anything she wanted, driving past defenders, making tough shots and finding open teammates on her way to 14 points, six assists and five rebounds. She was one of five players in double figures for her team, which hit 4 of 5 shots in overtime and 41.3 percent for the game.
"They made plays down the stretch," Moser said. "We got outcoached down the stretch, we got outplayed down the stretch. It's frustrating.
"... We have a chance to be special. Our goal is ultimately to win our last game. We have better skill players (this season), but the team needs to buy into the toughness."
Reach Jeremy Peters at email@example.com or 257-4335.
CENTRAL MICHIGAN (90) -- Bracey 6-10 1-2 13, Green 4-10 3-3 11, Bradford 5-12 3-4 13, DiGuilio 1-5 4-4 6, Baker 4-14 4-6 14, Miller 2-5 3-3 7, Olive 2-5 2-6 7, Tamm 4-7 0-0 12, Bellamy 3-4 1-2 7. Totals 31-75 21-30 90.
UAA (84) -- Mathews 2-8 0-0 5, Robison 7-12 8-12 22, Johansson 7-11 6-11 20, Deichmann 4-14 2-3 10, Holmstead 3-6 0-0 6, Ryder 2-4 2-2 8, King 1-8 2-2 5, Seale 0-0 0-0 0, Horn 1-7 0-0 3, Burns 2-5 0-0 5. Total 29-75 20-30 84.
Central Michigan 38 35 -- 90
UAA 37 36 -- 84
3-point goals -- Central Michigan 7-22 (Green 0-2, Bradford 0-1, DiGuilio 0-2, Baker 2-5, Olive 1-5, Tamm 4-7), UAA 6-24 (Mathews 1-5, Deichmann 0-2, Holmstead 0-1, Ryder 2-4, King 1-5, Horn 1-4, Burns 1-3). B-- Central Michigan 46 (Bracey 9), UAA 50 (Robison 16). Total fouls -- Central Michigan 23, UAA 21. Fouled out -- Horn. Assists -- Central Michigan 23 (Bradford 6), UAA 17 (Deichmann 7). Turnovers -- 15 (Bracey 4), UAA 20 (Deichmann 6). Blocked shots -- Central Michigan 5 (Bradford 2), UAA 2 (Robison 2). Steals -- Central Michigan 11 (Olive 3), UAA 10 (Robison 3, Deichmann 3). Officials -- Leitch, Tovoli, McNew.Photos: Great Alaska Shootout -- Women's Bracket
By BETH BRAGG
Anchorage Daily News