Western Washington slips past UAA men

Jeremy Peters

Just when it looked like Western Washington was going to cruise to a comfortable win Saturday night, things got uncomfortable for the Vikings.

The defending NCAA Division II national champions still got the win over the UAA men’s basketball team, escaping with a 63-57 Great Northwest Athletic Conference win. But the Seawolves overcame a 13-point deficit to create an electric atmosphere at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex and make the second-ranked Vikings earn a narrow victory. 

The Vikings won thanks to some clutch shooting from senior guard John Allen, who led Western Washington with 19 points.

“Anchorage is a phenomenal team, very well coached, and we’re just fortunate to get the win,” first-year Western Washington coach Tony Dominguez said. “John Allen is a very talented player and when he’s focused in, dialed in, he really can do some damage.”

With 8.9 seconds to play and the score tied 57-57, Allen drove for a jumper in the lane to put the Vikings up 59-57. UAA called a timeout with 5.9 seconds left, but threw the ball out of play on the ensuing inbound set. 

“It’s a play that has been very, very good to us in the past,” UAA coach Rusty Osborne said. “This time, we didn’t execute it.”

The Vikings (25-1, 16-1), whose 30-game winning streak ended at UAF on Thursday, inbounded the ball to Allen, who was quickly fouled. 

He calmly swished a pair of free throws with 3.4 seconds left to put the Vikings up by four points. Paul Jones scored the Vikings’ last two points from the free throw line after stealing an inbound pass and drawing a foul.  

“This is a hard one to lose, very hard to lose,” said UAA senior Liam Gibcus, who finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds. “Everyone gave their best effort and we executed our game plan pretty much to the T. We’re not hanging our heads.”

UAA (17-7, 10-6 GNAC) started turning things around about the time Teancum Stafford caught fire. He scored 18 of his game-high 23 points in the second half and did so in every imaginable way. 

“Teancum really sparked us there and hit numerous amazing shots,” Gibcus said. 

Among the shots in Stafford’s arsenal were a high-flying left-handed dunk down the middle of the key, a pair of 3-pointers, an acrobatic rebound and put-back that led to an old-fashioned 3-point play, and a swished jumper that tied the game at 50-50 and brought the crowd to its feet with three minutes to play.

The crowd erupted again with 1:22 to play when Stafford drove in for a hard runner off the glass to give UAA a 57-55 edge, its first since leading 8-7.   

“I just feel really grateful to have a team and a coach that have confidence in me,” Stafford said. “I felt a little disappointed in myself. I felt like I could have made one or two more plays that would have changed the outcome of the game, but we learn and we move on.”

UAA will hit the road this week for its final two games of the regular season, playing Seattle Pacific on Thursday and Montana State Billings on Saturday. GNAC tournament play begins March 7. 





Reach Jeremy Peters at jpeters@adn.com or 257-4335.


WESTERN WASHINGTON (63) — Jones 6-9 2-2 15; Bragg 0-1 2-3 2; Mitchell 1-3 0-0 2; Woodworth 3-8 1-3 8; Allen 7-14 3-4 19; Wilkins 1-1 0-0 2; Severson 4-6 5-5 13; Fisher 1-1 0-0 2. Totals — 23-43 13-17 63. 

UAA (57) — Leckband 0-0 0-0 0; Gibcus 9-16 1-1 19; Lauwers 0-4 0-0 0; Stafford 9-16 2-2 23; Fossman 2-7 0-0 5; MacKelvie 0-3 2-4 2; Erickson 0-0 1-2 1; Little 1-6 0-0 3; Demissie 0-2 0-0 0; Spickerman 2-2 0-0 4; Weitzel 0-0 0-0 0. Totals — 23-56 6-9 57. 

WWU   32  31 — 63

UAA 25 32  — 57

3-point field goals — WWU 4-11 (Jones 1-2, Woodworth 1-3; Allenn 2-6); UAA 5-16 (Lauwers 0-3; Stafford 3-6; Fossman 1-2; MacKelvie 0-1; Little 1-3; Demissie 0-1). Rebounds — WWU 24 (Jones 4); UAA 30 (Gibcus 10). Total Fouls — WWU 16; UAA 17. Assists — WWU 11 (Jones, Woodworth 3); UAA 17 (thee with 4). Turnovers — WWU 8 (Jones, Woodworth 2); UAA 10 (Stafford 4). Blocks — WWU 11 (Mitchell 4); UAA 1 (Demissie). Steals — WWU 5 (Jones 2); UAA 4 (four with 1). Officials — Spitznagel, Corson, Mason. A — 826.