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UAA men's basketball team loses at buzzer in GNAC tourney

Victory was snatched at the buzzer Thursday, taken from the UAA men's basketball team in the first round of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference tournament.

Central Washington's Mark McLaughlin capped a huge second half with a last-second 3-pointer from the right wing to give the Wildcats a 79-78 victory at Marcus Pavilion in Lacey, Wash..

The loss could sink UAA's chances of making a third straight NCAA Division II tournament.

The sixth-seeded Wildcats (15-12) trailed 44-26 at halftime and trailed by double digits for much of the second half. McLaughlin's winning shot provided them with their first lead since early in the first half when the Wildcats led 10-9.

Third-seeded UAA (18-9) received double-digit scoring efforts from six players and was in complete control until the final six minutes.

The Seawolves, led by 18 points from Liam Gibcus, held a 68-60 advantage when Central Washington's Nate Walker hit a 3-pointer to make it 68-63. A pair of free throws pulled the Wildcats to within 68-65 with 4:27 remaining.

UAA clung to a narrow lead for the next couple of minutes and then McLaughlin, who scored 26 of his game-high 32 points in the second half, drilled a 3-pointer to tie the score at 73-73 with two minutes left.

UAA regained the lead with a pretty pick-and-roll play that resulted in a layup for Gibcus and an assist for Kyle Fossman, who tied a career high with seven assists.

Jalen Little hit a free throw to put the Seawolves up 76-73 with 24 seconds left, but Central Washington's Kevin Davis scored an old-fashioned 3-point play to tie it at 76-76 with 14 seconds remaining. Little raced the length of the floor on UAA's next possession and drove for a layup to make it 78-76 with five seconds to play.

After Fossman deflected CWU's inbound pass, knocking it out of bounds near midcourt, Central Washington had 2.5 seconds to make a play. McLaughlin took the inbound pass, dribbled once to his right and elevated for a beautiful final shot that swished through the net and gave the Wildcats reason to celebrate.

Fossman, Colton Lauwers, Teancum Stafford and Abebe Demissie all finished with 11 points for UAA, with Little kicking in 10 points and four assists. Stafford pulled down a team-high seven rebounds, but struggled with his shot, making just 2 of 14 field goals.

McLaughlin hit 11 of 19 shots, including three 3-pointers. He also led the Wildcats with four assists. Walker recorded a team-high seven rebounds and made both of his 3-point attempts to finish with 13 points and Jordan Coby chipped in 11 points for the Wildcats.

UAA started the week as the eighth-ranked team in the West Region, putting the Seawolves on the bubble for a berth in the NCAA tournament.

CWU (79) -- Walker 4-8 3-4 13; Magee 3-6 0-0 6; Coby 4-9 2-2 11; Williams 1-2 1-2 3; McLaughlin 11-19 7-8 32; Gross 0-0 0-0 0; Starr 1-5 0-0 2; Holmes 1-3 1-2 3; Davis 3-5 3-3 9. Totals -- 28-57 17-21 79.

UAA (78) -- Leckband 0-2 0-0 0; Gibcus 9-14 0-0 18; Lauwers 4-5 0-0 11; Stafford 2-14 7-9 11; Fossman 4-8 1-2 11; MacKelvie 3-4 0-0 6; Erickson 0-1 0-0 0; Little 3-4 3-4 10; Demissie 4-8 0-0 11; Spickerman 0-0 0-0 0. Totals -- 29-60 11-15 78.

CWU 26 53 -- 79

UAA 44 34 -- 78

3-point field goals -- CWU 6-13 (Walker 2-2; Coby 1-5; Williams 0-1; McLaughlin 3-5); UAA 9-19 (Leckband 0-2; Lauwers 3-4; Stafford 0-2; Fossman 2-3; Little 1-2; Demissie 3-5). Rebounds -- CWU 33 (Walker 7); UAA 29 (Stafford 7). Total fouls -- CWU 19; UAA 18. Assists -- CWU 13 (McLaughlin 4); UAA 17 (Fossman 7). Turnovers -- CWU 11 (Davis 3); UAA 8 (three with 2). Blocks -- CWU 4 (Davis 3); UAA 3 (three with 1). Steals -- CWU 3 (three with 1); UAA 6 (Gibcus, MacKelvie 2). Officials -- Somers, Grant, Harris. A -- 528.


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