The UAA men's basketball team claimed sole possession of sixth place in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference on Saturday by holding on for a 66-64 road victory over Simon Fraser.
The win was a big one because the top six teams advance to the GNAC tournament March 1-3 in Anchorage. With two regular-season games remaining, UAA is 9-9 in conference play, one game ahead of UAF and Northwest Nazarene, which are both 8-10.
UAA and UAF entered the weekend tied for sixth place, but the Seawolves earned a split of their two roads games while the Nanooks lost both of theirs.
The Seawolves (13-13 overall) jumped to a huge lead early in Burnaby, British Columbia. They built leads of 13-0 and 17-5 only to see Simon Fraser (10-16 overall, 4-14 GNAC) claw its way back into the game.
UAA led 37-32 at the half and never managed to open up a comfortable gap in the second half.
The Clan, who did UAA a favor earlier in the week by beating the Nanooks, looked like they might again play the spoiler. They tied the game 63-63 on Othniel Spence's open 3-pointer with 45.5 seconds left.
UAA regained the lead on Malik Clements' turnaround jumper with 32 seconds left. The Seawolves got the ball back when D.J. Ursery grabbed the rebound on a Simon Fraser miss and drew a foul to earn a trip to the foul line with 13.1 seconds left.
Ursery hit the first free throw but missed the second, leaving UAA with a 66-63 lead. With time running out, Simon Fraser's Michael Provenzano launched a 3-pointer that hit the front of the rim.
But the Clan came up with the long rebound and got one final chance when Tyrell Lewin was fouled with three-tenths of a second left. He made his first free throw and intentionally missed his second one, and although Simon Fraser got the rebound, Provenzano's desperate 3-point attempt was hurried and off-target.
Four players reached double figures for UAA. Brian Pearson led the way with 18 points, seven rebounds and three blocks, followed by Clements with 14 points, Drew Peterson with 13 points and Ursery with 10 points to go along with eight rebounds. Josiah Wood chipped in nine points and five assists.
Spence's 19 points and five assists and Keder Salam's 18 points and five rebounds powered Simon Fraser.
UAA plays its final regular-season games on the road. The week begins with a huge game against UAF Tuesday in Fairbanks, where a win by the Nanooks would put the Alaska teams back in a tie. On Saturday, UAA travels to Montana for a game against Montana State-Billings.