UAA Athletics

UAA men’s basketball team rallies past Northwest Nazarene to reach GNAC tournament finals

The University of Alaska Anchorage men’s basketball team rallied in the second half to defeat Northwest Nazarene 64-63 in the semifinals of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships on Friday in Ellensburg, Washington.

The Seawolves trailed by five points at halftime but rallied with improved shooting and stellar defense in the second half to punch their ticket to the GNAC title game. UAA, which hasn’t won the tournament since it was launched in 2011, advanced to the title game for the second time in three years.

“I thought that this would be a back-and-forth, physical battle, but I was confident in our group because they are very resilient,” UAA head coach Rusty Osborne said in a release from the school. “We were not executing very well in the first half, but we were able to keep the game ugly a little bit and survive. Multiple people (in the locker room) said ‘Hey, we’ve faced worse and we’ve just got to stick with it,’ and that’s what we did.”

After trailing 35-29 at half and by as many as nine early in the second half, UAA chipped away and took a 41-40 lead with a 3-pointer by Sawyer Storms with 14:59 remaining. From that point neither team could generate a lead bigger than five points until Storms put UAA up 62-56 with 2:29 left in the game.

Storms scored all 12 of his points in the second half after sitting much of the first half with foul trouble.

“In my head, I just needed to see one fall after sitting on the bench most of the first half, and I got one to go early in the second half,” Storms said in a release from the school. “My teammates and my coaches, they just give me all the confidence in the world that they trust me to take those shots, and they were finding me. Tonight it happened to be me, but any night it can be someone different on our team.”

A layup by Jaron Williams in the final minute helped the Seawolves maintain a five-point lead down the stretch.


Senior Tyson Gilbert led the Seawolves with 14 points. Storms and guard Dillon Barrientos chipped in with 12 apiece.

The Seawolves defense was the difference in the second half. After Northwest Nazarene shot 61.9% from the floor in the first half, UAA limited the Nighthawks to just 32.3% shooting in the second half. Meanwhile the Seawolves shot 52% from the floor in the second half after subpar shooting in the first half.

UAA (22-9) will play in the championship game on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. against Central Washington. CWU defeated Montana State Billings 81-80 in the other semifinal.

[No. 24 Western Washington ousts UAA women’s basketball from GNAC tournament]