The way the rest of the UAA women's basketball players see it, every game remaining is another chance to burnish their season resume, which in turn can furnish postseason chances to extend the career of their lone senior, Kylie Burns.
"We don't want to see it end for her,'' said junior Emily Craft.
Thursday night, UAA delivered the goods with hounding defense, relentless rebounding and second-half shooting, which generated an 87-71 Great Northwest Athletic Conference victory over Simon Fraser, which entered ranked No. 2 among Division II teams in the West Region.
With five players scoring in double figures, eight players scoring at least six points and a sizeable rebounding advantage -- 43-30 overall and 27-11 on the offensive glass -- the Seawolves won their third straight game and fourth in the last five.
"We were annihilated on the boards,'' said long-time Clan coach Bruce Langford.
UAA improved to 17-6 overall and 10-5 in the GNAC, and clinched a spot in next month's GNAC tournament.
Earlier this week, with four games remaining before the GNAC tournament, UAA coach Ryan McCarthy said the Seawolves held a team meeting. The message: Ambition.
"We said, '16-6 was a great regular season, surpassed expectations,' " McCarthy recounted. " 'But from here on out, every game is a postseason game. The end is near, but if we keep rolling, we extend our season.' "
For inspiration, the Seawolves watched a video about coach Jim Valvano and the underdog 1983 North Carolina State men's team, which won the Division I national championship.
The Seawolves hassled the Clan (16-7, 10-5 GNAC) into nine turnovers in the opening 4 minutes, 52 seconds, of the women's penultimate game at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex -- both UAA basketball teams next season move to the new Alaska Airlines Center.
By halftime, the Seawolves already had forced 16 turnovers, Simon Fraser's season average for an entire game, on their way to pressuring the Clan into 25 turnovers in all.
Meanwhile, Craft scored 12 of her career high-tying 16 points in the opening 20 minutes. She also provided four steals and two blocks.
"Honestly, I was just playing for my team and trying to give my best effort and not let them down,'' Craft said.
Nine Seawolves contributed at least one steal in the first half. And the Seawolves owned a 39-25 cushion at the break.
UAA's tenacity on defense is not subtle, Langford said.
"Their defense is so physical -- it's different than what you see (elsewhere),'' he said. "In a neutral gym, they foul out. In this gym, they never foul out.''
After Simon Fraser missed all six of its 3-point attempts in the first half, it moved the ball with more patience in the second half and started raining 3s on UAA, hitting 9 of 13 from distance in the final 20 minutes. Katie Lowen buried four and Kia Van Laare three.
Junior forward Erin Chambers, who makes everything look easy, heated up on the way to matching her league-leading average of 22 points per game. Chambers torched UAA for a season-high 34 points last month in British Columbia, where the Clan beat the Seawolves 78-74.
Simon Fraser slashed UAA's lead to seven points, 53-46, on Van Laare's 3-pointer with 12:17 to go. But Kiki Robertson hit a layup, Burns sank a 3-pointer and Jenna Buchanan made a layup to push the margin back to 14 at 60-46 with 9:57 to go. UAA's lead never dropped to single digits after that.
Jessica Madison hit four 3-pointers, three in the late going, to put up 13 points next to her four assists. Robertson scored 14 points and dished seven assists. Buchanan dropped a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards.
Burns contributed 12 points, five rebounds (all offensive) and a game-high five steals.
Lowen complemented Chambers, who was held without a rebound, with 13 points, and Van Laare and Meg Wilson added nine points each.
UAA on Saturday plays its final game at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex when it entertains Western Washington. The Vikings (16-8, 12-4 GNAC) won 91-65 at UAF on Thursday night to rise into second place in the league.
Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog.
SIMON FRASER (71) -- Chambers 7-13 7-8 22, Reist 2-4 3-3 7, Langmead 2-3 0-0 4, Lowen 4-11 1-2 13, Petit 1-3 1-2 4, Van Laare 3-7 0-0 9, Kett 0-3 1-2 1, Wilson 3-4 3-3 9, Sider 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 22-48 18-22 71.
UAA (87) -- Devine 1-1 2-2 4, Burns 4-16 2-3 12, Buchanan 3-11 4-4 10, Robertson 6-14 2-4 14, J. Madison 4-11 1-2 13, A. Madison 0-1 0-2 0, Davis 3-7 0-0 6, Hutchins 2-3 0-0 6, Wright 3-5 0-0 6, Craft 6-8 4-4 16. Totals 32-77 15-21 87.
Simon Fraser 25 46 -- 71
UAA 39 48 -- 87
Three-point goals -- Simon Fraser 9-19 (Chambers 1-3, Lowen 4-6, Petit 1-2, Van Laare 3-7, Kett 1-2, Wilson 3-3, Sider 2-2), UAA 8-24 (Burns 2-7, Buchanan 0-3, J. Madison 4-9, Davis 0-1, Hutchins 2-3, Craft 0-1). Rebounds -- Simon Fraser 30 (Wilson 6), UAA 43 (Buchanan 10). Assists -- Simon Fraser 18 (Wilson 5), UAA 21 (Robertson 7). Turnovers -- Simon Fraser 25 (Chambers 6), UAA 13 (Robertson 4, Davis 4). Blocks -- Simon Fraser 9 (Wilson 4), UAA 2 (Craft 2). Steals -- Simon Fraser 8 (Chambers 4), UAA 21 (Burns 5). A -- 310. Officials -- Landro, McCourt, Leitch.
By DOYLE WOODY