With their star on the bench for almost three-quarters of the game, the Seawolves ended their basketball season Saturday night with a loss to longtime rival Seattle Pacific.
The 80-67 loss came in the semifinals of the NCAA Division II West Region men's tournament in Bellingham, Wash., and it came with the region's Player of the Year -- UAA senior center Taylor Rohde -- playing limited minutes because of foul trouble.
Liam Gibcus turned in a career night filling in for Rohde, and his 11-point and 10-rebound effort, although coming in a losing effort, was somewhat symbolic of the season.
The Seawolves were Team Resiliency all season long. They were delivered blows early and often, beginning with the loss of all-conference guard Mario Gill to a season-ending injury before the season even began.
Several others incurred injuries, some season-ending, some that kept players on the shelf for weeks, and some that players battled through. All of them required adjustments, including the need for players to pay unfamiliar positions. And still the Seawolves racked up a 23-7 record and made it to the semifinals of the West Region.
"It was a great season," said UAA coach Rusty Osborne, who has guided UAA to five of the last seven NCAA Tournaments.
"They were a tremendous group all year long, showing tremendous class and effort, win or lose."
Poor shooting doomed UAA against Seattle Pacific. After shooting 60 percent in a first-round win over Montana State-Billings, the Seawolves hit just 37.3 percent against the Falcons (23-7).
It was the third meeting of the season between the Great Northwest Athletic Conference rivals. Each team won at home during the regular season, and Seattle Pacific took the rubber match behind David Downs' 21 points and Andy Poling's 19.
The Seawolves were whistled for 30 fouls and the Falcons sank 40 of 47 free throws. Downs hit 10 of 12 and Poling 13 of 16 from the foul line.
Rohde and point guard Steve White played limited minutes in the first half after each picked up two early fouls.
Rohde, who logged just three minutes in the first half, picked up a third foul 26 seconds into the second half. He eventually fouled out, leaving the game with 5 points and 4 rebounds, well below his season averages.
A transfer from Division I Arizona State, the 6-foot-9 Rohde played two spectacular seasons for the Seawolves and ranks 11th on the team's all-time scoring list, despite being double-teamed much of his time on the court.
"Taylor Rohde took us on a great ride," Osborne said. "He had a lot of stuff thrown at him all year, and he kept living up to every challenge. We're so glad he chose to come to our program and his contributions will be remembered for a long time.
A pair of Anchorage players led UAA on Saturday -- Lonnie Ridgeway, a senior who missed about a month with a broke hand, scored 14 points, and Travis Thompson, a sophomore who gave up a redshirt season because of the injuries to others, chipped in 13.
Ridgeway was part of a UAA bench that contributed 34 points and 21 of theteam's 32 rebounds.
"I couldn't be more proud of a bunch of guys. Our bench guys just got in there and battled their tails off to keep us in the game - Liam Gibcus, Marcus Jackson, Lonnie Ridgeway," Osborne said. "We battled the whole time just like we have all year. I couldn't have been more proud of them than if we had won the game."
"... Now we'll get to work and try to recruit a couple more impact players and get ready for next year."
Reach Beth Bragg at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.
SEATTLE PACIFIC (80) -- Wall 2-4 2-2 8, Anderson 0-3 4-4 4, Poling 3-11 13-16 19, Downs 5-8 10-12 21, Stockton 4-6 4-4 14, Carel 1-4 2-3 5, Todd 0-0 0-0 0, Dorman 0-0 0-0 0, Morse 2-3 0-0 4, Hutsen 0-2 5-6 5, Niang 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-42 40-47 80.
UAA (67) -- Lauwers 0-3 2-2 2, Fossman 3-8 2-2 9, Rohde 2-3 1-2 5, Thompson 4-9 3-4 13, White 1-4 2-2 4, Ridgeway 5-14 4-7 14, Jackson 1-2 1-2 3, Demissie 2-6 1-1 6, Hearn 0-3 0-0 0, Blossom 0-0 0-0 0, Gibcus 4-7 3-4 11. Totals 22-59 19-26 67.
Seattle Pacific 33 47 -- 80
UAA 30 37 -- 67
3-point goals -- SPU 6-13 (Wall 2-3, Anderson 0-2, Downs 1-2, Stockton 2-3, Carel 1-2, Morse 0-1), UAA 4-17 (Lauwers 0-2, Fossman 1-5, Thompson 2-5, Jackson 0-1, Demissie 1-4). Rebounds -- SPU 36 (Anderson 9), UAA 32 (Gibcus 10). Fouls -- SPU 23, UAA 30. Fouled out -- Rohde, Demissie. Assists -- SPU 6 (Downs 4), UAA 10 (White 4). Turnovers -- SPU 9 (Downs 4), UAA 11 (White 4). Steals -- SPU 2, UAA 2. Blocked shots -- SPU 3 (Poling 2), UAA 4 (Gibcus 3). Officials -- Somers, Holmes, Espinoza. Att -- 494.
By BETH BRAGG
Anchorage Daily News