With its win over the University of California, Merced on Friday, the University of Alaska Anchorage men’s basketball team really proved the old cliche, “it’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish.” After a slow start, the Seawolves dominated on both ends of the court in their commanding 83-32 blowout victory at the Alaska Airlines Center.
After trailing 5-4 early, the Seawolves put the clamps on the Bobcats defensively and found their rhythm offensively. By the end of the first half, they had outscored them 35-4 and made home court history in the process. It marked the fewest points ever allowed in a half at a home game in program history, and the second fewest allowed in a half at either a road or a home game overall.
“It’s an identity that we’re trying to build as a defensive unit, and the guys have bought into it,” UAA head coach Rusty Osborne said. “We’re getting better game by game and I thought we were pretty good up in Fairbanks (last weekend), and it carried over.”
While UC Merced found a bit more success on offense in the second half, it wasn’t much, and UAA continued to stay hot shooting, led by senior guard Dathan Satchell, who recorded a season- and game-high 16 points.
“Dathan finally broke out and shot like he is capable,” Osborne said. “Coming into the season, we thought he’d be our best shooter, and he was preseason All-Conference for a reason. He’s an elite shooter and even elite shooters go through some times where they aren’t making them. With a new group here, he struggled finding his range, but he was able to break out tonight. He’s a guy that can really get it in the basket.”
As a team, the Seawolves were a pack of sharp shooters from the field and especially when it came to knocking down 3-pointers: They went 12-of-25 from behind the arc with Satchell leading the way, going 4-of-8 on his long-ball attempts.
“It was only a matter of time before shots were going to start falling so I didn’t lose any confidence,” he said. “I just let it happen and let it fly.”
UAA spread the wealth and had a well-balanced offensive attack with seniors Sawyer Storms and Tyson Gilbert reaching double figures. Storms came in second on the team in scoring with 13 points, and Gilbert came in third with 10.
The Seawolves’ leader in rebounds was Anchorage’s Sloan Lentfer, formerly of Grace Christian, with 10, and he nearly had a double-double with seven points that included the team’s first two buckets of the game.
With the win, UAA remained undefeated and improved to 5-0. With Great Northwest Athletic Conference play less than two weeks away, it also serves as a nice confidence booster that the team is trending in the right direction during this hot start to the season.
“Coach (Rusty) gives us as a whole a lot of confidence individually, so it’s easy to go out there and play for him,” Satchell said. “Playing in this system, he lets you play freely and go out there and play the right way.”