Beth Bragg

Two nights after allowing only 32 points, the second-ranked UAA women’s basketball team put on another defensive clinic Saturday to roll to another victory. In their 77-42 win over Western Oregon in Monmouth, Oregon, the Seawolves held the Wolves to single digits in the first two quarters and to 30 percent shooting for the entire game. “Defensively that was the most complete game we’ve played, in terms of staying intense and playing with a great deal of effort,” UAA coach Ryan McCarthy said. “They played hard the entire time.” Western Oregon managed six field goals the whole first half, when UAA built a 38-14 lead. Jessica Madison hit three triples en route to a game-high 15 points and Megan Mullings and Hannah Wandersee each contributed 13 points. Wandersee, a 6-foot-1 redshirt freshman...Beth Bragg
A clutch 3-pointer from Spencer Svejcar, iron-man efforts from Brian McGill and Suki Wiggs and outstanding defense on the opponent’s final possession of double overtime lifted the UAA men’s basketball team Thursday night. The Seawolves held off Western Washington 108-105 in an action-packed Great Northwest Athletic Conference game in Bellingham, Washington. “It was quite a game,” UAA coach Rusty Osborne said. “Quite a game.” The win came after two straight conference losses for the Seawolves (17-7 overall, 10-3 GNAC) and keeps them in a second-place tie with Seattle Pacific. McGill and Suki Wiggs each scored more than 30 points for the Seawolves, who squandered a 17-point lead in the second half. “Just a great, resilient effort, and after the losses last week, for the guys to come...Beth Bragg
The dragon will venture out of its lair at North Star Elementary. A giraffe will amble out of its comfy bedroom at Gailyn Taylor’s house. Heather Wilson will chase a rainbow or two out of her home. The Ultimate Frisbee Friends, the team that has wowed the crowd for 10 straight years at the Alaska Ski for Women with its giant, colorful costumes, is planning a retrospective for Sunday’s race at Kincaid Park. The sunflowers, the monarch butterflies, the peacocks, the volcanoes, the cellos, the flamingos – they’ll all be back, though in smaller numbers than before. Even the maternity-leave costume from 2011 (pregnant bellies for everyone) will take a curtain call at the race, which doubles as Alaska's biggest costume party. “Our strategy is to have two of each from the last 10 years, except...Beth Bragg
Jenna Buchanan’s hot hand cooled off Montana State-Billings in a battle for conference supremacy Saturday night. The UAA women’s basketball team, ranked second in NCAA Division II, rode Buchanan’s 28 points to an 85-73 win in a showdown between league leaders in Billings. With the win, the Seawolves (24-1 overall, 11-1 conference) took sole ownership of first place in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. Billings (14-6, 10-2) slipped to second place. Buchanan equaled her career-high by burying 6 of 9 shots from 3-point range and 7 of 15 overall. She was 8 of 8 from the foul line. The 5-foot-8 senior guard from Galena hit two huge 3-pointers with less than six minutes left to diffuse a Yellowjackets rally. Down by as many as 15 points in the second half, Billings cut the deficit to...Beth Bragg
As he prepared for another season of world-class competition, crash-prone Paralympic skier Andrew Kurka of Palmer said his goal wasn’t to win races. It was to survive them intact. Friday in the first World Cup sit-ski race of the season, he did both. Two days after his 24th birthday, Kurka struck World Cup gold for the second time in his career. He won the first of two super-G races in Tignes, France, finishing the day with no physical damage. Emerging unscathed from a day of racing is huge for Kurka, who has broken his back three times and has yet to finish an entire ski season without breaking a bone. Last season, a broken leg kept him out of the Winter X Games. Two seasons ago, he broke a bone in his back during a training run for the Paralympic downhill race in Sochi, Russia. In an...Beth Bragg
When Alysha Devine takes the court for the UAA women’s basketball team, she is tressed to thrill. A junior forward from Wasilla, Devine has game — and she has mane. Her thick, blond hair almost takes on a life of its own as Devine runs the length of the court, jumps for a rebound or tangles with an opponent. Even when tied in a ponytail for games, the hair hangs below her waist — and Devine, who is 6 feet tall, is anything but short-waisted. Sure, all of that hair can be a chore. But the daughter of Mike and Amy Devine said she’s committed to keeping her hair long for the duration of her college career. “My dad always says it’s my trademark, and I have to keep it,” she said. Devine unofficially leads the Great Northwest Athletic Conference in hair, and she is among UAA’s leaders in...Beth Bragg
Five years ago, as he was beginning his rehabilitation from a spinal-cord injury that left him paralyzed from the waist down, competitive snowmachiner Paul Thacker of Anchorage began plotting his return to the X Games. Thacker’s comeback culminated with a silver medal Thursday in Aspen, Colorado, where he grabbed second place in the adaptive snocross race. It was his first X Games medal in nearly a decade of trying – the first few years as an able-bodied athlete and the last couple as an adaptive racer. Thacker, 41, made five laps around the snocross course at Buttermilk Mountain in 5 minutes, 26.438 seconds. He edged bronze-medalist E.J. Poplawski by four seconds and was nearly a minute behind six-time X Games champion Mike Schultz. “The X Games has always kind of been my nemesis,”...Beth Bragg
In a game where everyone tallied at least four points and one rebound, perhaps the most notable thing about the UAA women’s basketball team’s big win Tuesday night in Fairbanks was what the Seawolves didn’t do. UAA set a school record for the fewest turnovers in a game, giving the ball away a scant five times in an 82-56 win over the rival UAF Nanooks. The previous low was six, a number posted three times in program history, most recently in a November 2012 game against Regis College. Everybody made contributions in the win, which improved the Seawolves to 23-1 overall and 10-1 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. UAA was so balanced and so deep that only two players made it into double figures — Jenna Buchanan with 11 points and Keiahnna Engel with 10. “Kinda crazy,” UAA coach...Beth Bragg
Solidifying themselves as a World Cup force, Anchorage’s Sadie Bjornsen and her American teammates made history Sunday by claiming the silver medal in a relay race in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic. The second-place finish was the best in U.S. history, and it marked the second time this season Bjornsen and her teammates climbed the podium to collect a medal for a top-three relay finish. In December, the U.S. women claimed bronze in Lillehammer, Norway. “What a fun day today,” Bjornsen said by email. “It has been an amazing vibe in our team this year, so we are showing up in the start line ready to fight “… It's fun to feel like the top is in reach, and we are continuing to chase that top step.” On Sunday, that top step was 42.1 seconds away and occupied by Norway, whose women haven't lost a...Beth Bragg
The UAA men’s basketball team bounced back twice Saturday. Two days after its nine-game winning streak ended with a loss to nationally ranked Western Oregon, the Seawolves rebounded with a 90-71 win over Concordia University in Portland. In order to get the win, UAA had to recover from a narrow deficit midway through the second half of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference game. The Seawolves (16-5 overall, 9-1 GNAC) were down 63-61 with less than nine minutes to play, but outscored Concordia 29-8 the rest of the way. Fueled by a huge double-double from forward Corey Hammell and some pivotal heroics from guard Suki Wiggs, the victory kept the Seawolves atop the conference standings. UAA and Western Oregon are both 9-1 at the halfway point of the GNAC season. “We were a little sloppy...Beth Bragg