For the second straight day, the Seawolves staged a memorable comeback against Division I competition in the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout.
The first one was impressive. The second was unbelievable.
Down 15 points with 14 minutes to play, the UAA women's basketball team pulled off one of the program's greatest comebacks Wednesday to post an are-you-kidding-me 52-50 victory over Santa Clara in the Shootout championship game in front of some 3,000 fans at Sullivan Arena.
At one point, Kalhie Quinones turned to teammate Jennifer Salazar -- the hero in Tuesday's 80-72 overtime victory over Cleveland State -- and said, "Are we really doing this?"
Afterward, the stunning victory still hadn't fully settled in.
"I have no idea how to explain it," Quinones said. "Honestly, before every game I just say, 'We're not gonna lose a game. There's no way we can lose.' We'll fight, scratch, claw, whatever we have to do to win it, and that's exactly what we did."
The 14th-ranked Division II Seawolves (4-0) did everything right down the stretch -- they held Santa Clara scoreless for the final 6 minutes, 23 seconds, got big plays from tournament Most Outstanding Player Rebecca Kielpinski and senior leadership from emotional sparkplug Quinones.
Kielpinski scored the winning basket on a spinning layup with 3.3 seconds left to give UAA its only lead of the game and a second straight Shootout title under coach Tim Moser.
"This is just awesome," said the 6-foot-2 Kielpinski, who delivered game-high 23 points and 11 rebounds. "Winning one Shootout is great, and this one is just phenomenal."
The same could be said about how the Seawolves finished the game, with the right-handed Kielpinski capping an 11-0 run with a left-handed layup to send the hometown crowd into a frantic frenzy and deny Wasilla's Chandice Cronk of Santa Clara a victorious homecoming.
Moser said it was a victory he'd never forget.
"Just how our kids were resilient and kept fighting back," he said. "That says a lot about our program and our kids. They expected to win it and they're going to do everything they can."
Cronk, the 2004 Alaska high school player of the year, had put Santa Clara on her back in her second game in Alaska in three years; she scored 16 points in Tuesday's victory over Bradley.
The 5-8 senior netted 20 points Wednesday, drilling four three-pointers and receiving a large cheer from her fan club of about 40 family members and friends.
Cronk gave her Broncos a 42-27 cushion with 14 minutes to play, and it looked like Santa Clara's night. But it didn't happen.
"I really wanted to win," said Cronk, who scored her team's final basket with 6:23 to play. "UAA played their butts off. I'm jealous of that Shootout trophy they've got."
Moser, the second-year UAA coach who is now 19-0 in the city limits, turned to his bench and got key buckets from newcomers Lillie Parks, Ashley Thompson and Dasha Basova, and key on-the-ball defense from veteran Limor Pelleg, one of just a handful of players from UAA's 2006 Shootout title team.
"I think we got great minutes out of a lot of kids," Moser said. "I thought Limor came in and got us going. Just defensively, she was intelligent enough to find where (Cronk) was at all times."
Basova's jumper pulled the Seawolves within 42-39 with nine minutes to go -- the closest they had been since the opening minutes of the game. Yet, Santa Clara (3-2) answered back with big shots from Tracey Walker, who sank a jumper to beat the shot clock, and Jen Gottschalk, who drilled a three-pointer. Then Cronk converted a layup for a 50-41 lead.
Salazar got the second comeback started with a three-pointer. Then Kielpinski scored the final eight points, including an old-fashioned three-point play that tied the game at 50-50 with 3:40 remaining.
"These girls played so hard tonight, and I love them for it," Quinones said.
For Kielpinski, finishing the winning layup with her off hand while dad Mark watched from the stands was special.
"Natural righty. Dad made me a lefty. I have to thank him for that," she said. "It's great that he was here and watched me play. For him to be up and see this, it's just awesome."
Find assistant sports editor Van Williams online at adn.com/contact/vwilliams or call 257-4335.
SANTA CLARA 50 -- Cronk 8-12 0-0 20; Gottschalk 3-10 2-4 9; Majors 3-7 0-0 6; Doran 2-5 0-0 5; Walker 2-6 0-0 4; Goll 0-0 4-4 4; Goins 1-2 0-0 2; Gall 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 19-45 6-8 50.
UAA 52 -- Kielpinski 9-17 5-10 23; Quinones 4-9 1-2 9; Nilsson 2-6 2-3 7; Parks 2-3 0-3 4; Salazar 1-4 0-0 3; Basova 1-3 0-0 2; Thompson 1-4 0-0 2; Williams, 0-3 2-4 2; Young 0-1 0-0 0; Aden 0-0 0-0 0; Dekel 0-1 0-0 0; Pelleg 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-52 10-22 52.
Three point goals -- Santa Clara 6-24 (Cronk 4-8; Gottschalk 1-5; Doran 1-3; Gall 0-2; Walker 0-4; Majors 0-2), UAA 2-14 (Nilsson 1-4; Salazar 1-3; Basova 0-2; Thompson 0-2; Williams 0-1; Dekel 0-1; Pelleg 0-1). Fouled out -- Santa Clara - Gottschalk, UAA -None. Rebounds -- Santa Clara 32 (Cronk 5), UAA 30 (Kielpinski 11). Assists -- Santa Clara 10 (Gall 3), UAA 14 (Salazar 4; Quinones 4). Total fouls -- Santa Clara 23, Alaska Anchorage 15. Technical fouls -- Santa Clara-None, Alaska Anchorage-None. A -- 6637
Santa Clara 31 19 - 50
Alaska Anchorage 19 33 - 52
Final tournament statistics
51Kailey Klein, Cleveland State
36Chandice Cronk, Santa Clara
33Rebecca Kielpinski, UAA
33Monica Rogers, Bradley
31Jen Gottschalk, Santa Clara
19Rebecca Kielpinski, UAA
15Monica Rogers, Bradley
14Tracey Walker, Santa Clara
13Kailey Klein, Cleveland State
13Dominique Butler, Clev. St.
11Devyn Flanagan, Bradley
9Brittany Korth, Cleveland St.
9Tracey Walker, Santa Clara
8Rachel Merriman, Bradley
7Four players tied
By VAN WILLIAMS