UAA Athletics

UAA men’s basketball grinds out a second straight victory against Western Washington

Just two days after coming out on top of a double-overtime game with Simon Fraser, the University of Alaska Anchorage men’s basketball team found itself in another tightly contested battle, this time with Western Washington on Saturday night at the Alaska Airlines Center.

The Seawolves were able to successfully defend their home court by holding the Vikings, who ranked eighth nationally with an average of 90.1 points per game, to their lowest point total since November in a 71-69 victory.

“We rely a lot on defense and we knew that if we just kept the lead and kept playing defense, everything would fall in the right hands,” senior guard Jaron Williams said.

He had an impressive all-around performance with 14 points and single-game career highs of six assists and eight rebounds.

[UAA women’s basketball come up short of a comeback in loss to Central Washington]

Neither team held more than a seven-point lead as they traded blows and went back and forth until the Seawolves knocked down some clutch free throws in the final minute. The last one came from Williams to make it a four-point game with 10 seconds left.

“We were just playing together as a team,” he said. “I don’t get to the free-throw line if it’s not for them.”


Through close games like the two they just came off of, Williams believes it teaches the team what it means to be tough and resilient.

“Last year we had a hard time finishing in late-game situations like that so this year it has been big for us to stay resilient and keep playing together as a team,” he said.

Unselfishness is another common theme for this year’s team, because they have tremendous trust and confidence in each other.

“It’s almost a different person every night on this team,” senior forward Sawyer Storms said. “One night it’s Tyson (Gilbert) and one night it’s Jaron hitting big shots. It’s about relying on each other as a team and not ourselves.”

He led the team in scoring with 17 points and came up one rebound shy of recording his second double-double of the season but couldn’t have cared less as long as the team prevailed.

“I don’t look at my stats during the games, so I have no idea,” Storms said. “I was just trying to get the board to get the win.”

Even though he and Williams finished first and second on the team in rebounds, they went out of their way to praise freshman forward Sloan Lentfer for being a powerful presence down in the post.

“He has been setting the tone down there the last couple games, and I think we’ve really been feeding off his energy,” Storms said. “Everybody has been seeing how hard he works down there and wants to help him out.”

The Seawolves have a big road test ahead of them this week with rematches against nationally ranked Saint Martin’s, which they upset late last month and Western Oregon, which they haven’t beat

“These wins are setting us up for the GNAC tournament, and next week we have two more that could put us in a good place in the conference standings,” Storms said.

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.