UAA men fill gap in schedule with series against Northwest Indian College

Beth Bragg

Dimond High graduate J.J. Jack-Nixon will get a chance to play basketball in front of friends and family this week at UAA, all because a Canadian team jilted the Seawolves.

The UAA men's team was scheduled to play a two-game series this week against Capilano, a team from North Vancouver, British Columbia. In late September, Capilano bowed out of the series, leaving the Seawolves with a month-long gap in their schedule.

Enter Northwest Indian College of Bellingham, Wash., a non-affiliated independent team -- meaning the Eagles don't belong to the NCAA or the NAIA.

"We had received a call from Northwest earlier in the fall about maybe coming up next year because they have two Alaska kids on their team," UAA coach Rusty Osborne said. "And so because I knew they had a little flexibility because they're not in a league, we just called and asked, would you have any availability this year?"

The teams will play games on Saturday and Sunday at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex. Sunday's 5 p.m. game is an exhibition, so it won't count on UAA's record.

Saturday's game comes two weeks after UAA's last game, a Dec. 1 loss to Seattle Pacific. The Seawolves' next game after this weekend is Jan. 3 at Northwest Nazarene. Had Northwest Indian not been available, the Seawolves would have gone more than a month without a game.

UAA, ranked 25th in NCAA Division II, is 7-2 entering Saturday's 7 p.m. game. It faces a team that has played primarily small, non-NCAA teams, although later this season the Eagles will travel to Bozeman, Mont., for a game against Division I Montana State.

The Eagles will suit up Jack-Nixon, a 2011 Dimond grad who played basketball and starred in track for the Lynx.

"It's really the best of a bad situation," Osborne said. "It helps them because they get to bring a kid home and play against good competition."

And it fills what would have been a gaping hole in UAA's schedule.

The men's games are the start of five straight nights of basketball at UAA. On Monday, the women begin play in the four-team, round-robin AT&T Hoops Classic.

The women's tournament features two games a day, at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. UAA (4-2) plays the late game each night, meeting Cal State-Los Angeles (5-3) on Monday, BYU-Hawaii (1-3) on Tuesday and Eastern New Mexico (0-8) on Wednesday.

The women then have a two-week break before returning to action Jan. 3 against Western Washington.

Reach Beth Bragg at or 257-4335. Reporter Jeremy Peters contributed to this report.