The UAA men's basketball team appears to be heading in the right direction as it begins its holiday break.
Two days after shooting a dismal 27.5 percent in a bruising loss to Western Oregon, the Seawolves turned things around Tuesday to pick up a 59-55 road win over Concordia-Portland.
Led by a breakout game by senior guard D.J. Ursery, UAA's offense got better as the game got older – the Seawolves shot 35.7 percent in the first half and improved to 44.8 percent in the second half.
The Seawolves (7-5 overall, 3-1 Great Northwest Athletic Conference) played their second straight game without leading scorer and rebounder Jacob Lampkin, who is out with an apparent foot injury.
But giving them 34 productive minutes was Ursery, who made his presence known after missing most of Sunday's game to recover from a concussion.
Ursery made 10 of 12 shots from the field for a career-high 22 points, grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds, handed three assists, had two steals and blocked a shot.
He was also the primary defender on Concordia's Jarrett Gray, who came in averaging 19.2 points but was held to two by UAA.
"I thought our guys showed a lot of mental toughness tonight," UAA coach Rusty Osborne said in a press release. "We didn't let our offensive struggles affect our defense, which allowed us to hang around until we could make shots.
"… Hopefully we can heal up, recover mentally and get ready for the rest of the season. With the injuries and unsettled lineup, we feel good about sitting at 3-1 right now."
UAA trailed 29-22 at the half and rallied to take a 40-39 lead midway through the second half. Concordia (4-8, 0-4) responded with five straight points for a 44-40 lead, and with about eight minutes left UAA's Jack Macdonald hit a 3-pointer to trigger a 13-3 run that put UAA in the lead for good.
With UAA protecting a one-possession lead in the final 80 seconds, Brian Pearson scored his only baskets of the game – a dunk and a layup – off feeds from Ursery on consecutive possessions.
The Seawolves sealed the win with two Maleke Haynes free throws with seven seconds left.
Haynes finished with 10 points, four steals and three assists, and Pearson matched his career-best with eight rebounds to go with two assists and a block. Curtis Ryan added seven points, three rebounds, two steals and a block, and Josiah Wood totaled seven points, five rebounds and two blocks for the Seawolves.
"I thought our guys showed a lot of mental toughness tonight," Osborne said. "… We had some guys step up at different times. Maleke sparked us early, Curtis gave us good minutes, and D.J. played well on both ends, guarding Gray most of the night."
With Gray held well below his average, Bryan Michaels led the Cavaliers with 23 points. He shot 50 percent – 8 of 16 – but the rest of his teammates shot a combined 11 of 37.
UAA goes two weeks before returning to action Jan. 4 with a home game against Saint Martin's.