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Saint Martin's knocks UAA men out of GNAC basketball lead

  • Author: Stephan Wiebe
  • Updated: May 31, 2016
  • Published January 28, 2016

The UAA men's basketball team suffered two heartbreakers in the same Great Northwest Athletic Conference game Thursday night at the Alaska Airlines Center. The Seawolves fell to Saint Martin's 73-70 in the final seconds and lost starting point guard Diante Mitchell to an apparent leg injury.

Mitchell missed a wild layup eight minutes into the second half and fell awkwardly on his right leg. He left the court without putting any weight on the leg.

The loss bumped the Seawolves (16-6 overall, 9-2 conference) out of a first-place tie in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, leaving Western Oregon in sole possession of the lead.

Saint Martin's, which came to town in the bottom one-third of the league standings, improved to 9-10, 3-8 with its second straight conference win.

With the game tied 66-66 and just more than a minute to play, Saint Martin's guard Preston Cole made a layup to put the Saints up by two.

Saint Martin's got the ball again after a missed layup by UAA's Brian McGill, and the Saints worked the shot clock all the way down before Cole drove to the rim. He was fouled as the shot clock expired and made both free throws to put the Saints up 70-66.

The teams traded free throws in the final 30 seconds, but a missed free throw by Cole -- who scored seven of his 14 points in the final two minutes -- gave UAA the opportunity to tie the game.

With less than two seconds on the clock and down three points, UAA guard Suki Wiggs heaved a three-quarter-court shot that bounced off the rim as time expired.

The usually hot-handed Wiggs was held to 16 points on 4-of-19 shooting from the field. It was the first time all season that he didn't reach 20 points.

"Wiggs is an extremely talented player," Saint Martin's coach Alex Pribble said. "He's a three-level scorer — he can shoot the ball, he can drive the ball to the rim and he also makes his teammates better.

"Our goal was to take away the basket. We wanted to guard him as a team, take away the basket and hopefully settle for some tough jumpers. We got fortunate because he missed a couple of them tonight."

Seven-foot Fred Jorg led the Saints with 16 points.

Corey Hammell tallied 16 points for the Seawolves, spending much of his night in the paint guarding Jorg. Jorg had six inches on the 6-foot-6 Hammell.

Brian McGill also had 16 points for UAA along with seven assists. Mitchell scored four points before his injury.

The Seawolves posted a season-low six turnovers but were hurt by 39.3 percent shooting. The Saints shot 48.1 percent and recorded assists on 23 of their 25 baskets.

"We didn't perform the game plan the way it was supposed to starting with the very first possession," UAA coach Rusty Osborne said. "It's hard for anyone from the outside to judge whether our defensive game plan would have been correct or not, because we didn't perform very well."

Osborne said he didn't know the status of Mitchell's injury.

"No idea — it didn't look good but I haven't had a chance to talk to the trainer yet," he said.

The Seawolves next play Seattle Pacific at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Alaska Airlines Center.

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