UAA Athletics

Inconsistent offense sinks UAA men’s basketball team in loss to Western Washington

In its first time back on the court since losing leading scorer Da’Zhon Wyche for the remainder of the season, the University of Alaska Anchorage men’s basketball gave itself plenty of chances to put up points by forcing an impressive 25 turnovers.

But the Seawolves weren’t able to make the most of them and ultimately fell 79-74 to Western Washington on Thursday night at Alaska Airlines Center.

“We were just our own worst enemies,” UAA head coach Rusty Osborne said. “We couldn’t make layups and we couldn’t make open (3-pointers).”

Despite outshooting the Vikings by 21 attempts (74-53) on the night, the Seawolves squandered many of those opportunities to overtake their Great Northwest Athletic Conference foes.

“We came up short because we didn’t take advantage of the opportunities that we had,” Osborne said. “We have to finish layups and have to shoot better when we have open 3s, which we had a ton of tonight.”

While UAA struggled to consistently to knock down shots, Western Washington was on the opposite end of the spectrum with a field goal percentage of 56.9%.

The Vikings were especially proficient and lethal from behind the arc, sinking more than half of their 3-pointers going 14-of-27 compared to the home team’s mark of 8-of-27 from long range.


“There’s going to be games when teams have good shooters and they’re going to shoot like that, you just have to make sure you’re on point offensively,” Osborne said.

One of the highlights from UAA in the losing effort was from junior guard Tyson Gilbert, who had a career-high 18 points.

“He played hard, he was on the floor and fighting for rebounds a lot,” Osborne said. “He’s an unbelievable shooter.”

However, even Gilbert wasn’t immune from suffering the poor shooting blues from behind the arc. He attempted nearly a third of the team’s shots from downtown but finishing just 2-of-8 on those opportunities.

While it was uncharacteristic for him given his normal proficiency, Osborne said it’s just another example of him continuing to knock off the rust in his first season back on the court after recovering from a pair of traumatic setbacks.

“Before he got with us he was a 43% career 3-point shooter at his other school,” he said. “It’s just getting that rhythm back after being off for two years and learning to play at game speed again.”

[UAA guard Tyson Gilbert’s journey is a testament to perseverance and positivity]

The Highlands Ranch, Colorado native was highly motivated to play well because his family flew up and was in attendance. His mother, father and older sister could be heard cheering loudly for him from the stands every time he checked into the game and touched the ball.

“It was so awesome,” Gilbert said. “Being so far away from home, it’s really cool seeing them in the crowd, looking up at them and seeing them smiling. ... Any time you have some people that are really in your corner, really care and support you, you’re going to want to go out and give your best effort for them.”

Gilbert was one of four Seawolves that reached double figures in scoring, which was a promising sign as they try to adjust to life without Wyche, whose college career ended this week after the NCAA ruled he didn’t have remaining eligibility to finish out the season.

“Coming into the game we wanted to focus on player movement, moving the ball and my teammates were able to find spots in different areas with different backcuts,” Gilbert said. “That’s what helped us get going so I think if we keep doing that, keep growing and moving as a team, I think we’ll be more successful.”

Even though the final result wasn’t what he’d hoped for, Osborne said there were some bright spots as the team transitioned into a new identity without Wyche, who started the season as UAA’s starting point guard.

“There were some guys who stepped up again tonight who haven’t played a lot and did some goods things and I think that will continue to happen,” Osborne said.

UAA women drop second straight in blowout

For the first time this season, the UAA women’s team lost back-to-back games despite having its full roster healthy and available in a lopsided 71-47 loss to Central Washington in the second leg of Thursday night’s doubleheader.

It marked the Seawolves’ lowest scoring output, fifth loss and third-largest margin of defeat of the season.

They struggled mightily when it came to consistently knocking downs shots. UAA shot just 26% from the field on the night while the Wildcats managed 45.3%including making nine 3-pointers.

Not a single Seawolf reached double figures in scoring with the closest being senior guard Jahnna Hajdukovich with a team-leading nine points.


Josh Reed

Josh Reed is a sports reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. He's a graduate of West High School and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.