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UAA men rally past Central Washington, 96-89

Beth Bragg

Facing the nation's leading scorer and the prospect of a fourth straight loss, the UAA men's basketball team rallied in the second half to trip Central Washington 96-89 Thursday in Ellensburg, Wash.

The Seawolves got huge performances from Travis Thompson (31 points despite early foul trouble) and Kyle Fossman (21 points, all on 3-pointers, including some big ones down the stretch).

And for the second straight week, they protected the ball like it was made of gold. UAA committed just three turnovers to tie the school record it set seven days earlier in a game against Seattle Pacific.

"It was a very gutsy win," UAA coach Rusty Osborne said in an email. "I thought we showed great growth from an offensive standpoint. In prior games we would try to make up for our defense with impatient offensive possessions. Tonight we did not let the defensive end affect our shot selection. Since we were taking better shots, we shot a better percentage."

No one shot better than Thompson, who netted 11 of 19 shots (58 percent) to become the sixth player in program history with at least five 30-point games in a season.

Unless it was Fossman, whose 7 of 13 shooting effort included a deadly 7 of 11 (63 percent) from 3-point range.

Or unless it was Mark McLaughlin, the Central Washington forward who is the nation's leading scorer. The Seawolves did a good job guarding McLaughlin, holding him to 4 of 12 shooting. They also did a good job fouling him -- most of McLaughlin's 28 points came at the foul line, where he was 18 of 20 (90 percent).

The Wildcats (11-10 overall, 7-6 Great Northwest Athletic Conference) led 54-44 at the half. The Seawolves (14-11, 7-7) stayed in the game that half largely because of Thompson, who poured in 19 points in the first 20 minutes despite getting in early foul trouble. The junior guard played most of the second half with four fouls, and was there at the end to steal the ball, draw a foul and sink two free throws with 18 seconds left, clinching victory.

"Travis was huge in the first half," Osborne said. "This late in the year, I felt I needed to trust him to play with two fouls and it paid off. We were a little worried when he got his fourth foul with 13 minutes left but we were able to get him through with some big contributions from Boomer Blossom and Christian Leckband."

Leckband, a sophomore from Nome, had all seven of his points and all four of his rebounds in the second half, helping UAA outscore the Wildcats 52-35.

The Seawolves were beaten badly on the boards -- Central Washington outrebounded them 37-23, with Kevin Davis getting 10, including four on the offensive end. But UAA survived that disparity by not giving away the ball.

UAA plays its final regular-season road game in the Lower 48 Saturday against Northwest Nazarene in Nampa, Idaho.

Reach Beth Bragg at bbragg@adn.com or 257-4335.

UAA (96) -- McGill 3-11 5-6 12, Lauwers 3-04 0-0 8, Stafford 5-7 1-1 13, Thompson 11-19 3-3 31, Fossman 7-13 0-0 21, Leckband 3-5 1-1 7, Blossom 1-2 0-0 3, Mears 0-2 0-0 0, McTier 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 33-63 11-13 96.

CENTRAL WASHINGTON (89) -- Pillard 1-3 1-4 3, McLaughlin 4-12 18-20 28, Davis 4-5 2-2 11, Roppo 2-5 2-2 7, Rodgers 2-6 0-0 6, Vaughn 0-1 0-0 0, Russell 9-14 0-0 23, Dawn 1-1 2-2 5, Budinich 2-2 0-0 6. Totals 25-51 25-30 89.

UAA 44 52 -- 96

Central Washington 54 35 -- 89

3-point goals -- UAA 19-37 (McGill 1-4, Lauwers 2-3, Stafford 2-3, Thompson 6-12, Fossman 7-11, Leckband 0-2, Blossom 1-2), CWU 14-26 (McLaughlin 2-4, Davis 1-1, Roppo 1-4, Rodgers 2-4, Russell 5-8, Dawn 1-1, Budinich 2-4). Rebounds -- UAA 23 (Thompson 5), CWU 37 (Davis 10). Total fouls -- UAA 20, CWU 14. Fouled out -- none. Assists -- UAA 19 (McGill 8, Thompson 6), CWU 16 (McLaughlin 6, Rodgers 6). Turnovers -- UAA 3 (McGill 2), CWU 10 (Russell 3). Blocks -- UAA 1 (McTier), CWU 4 (Davis 2). Steals -- UAA 4 (Thompson 2), CWU 1 (Rodgers). A -- 1,009. Officials -- Bruland, Sumers, Crider.


By BETH BRAGG
bbragg@adn.com