The play was a thing of beauty as UAA’s Jaisa Gamble’s perfect post feed to Tori Hollingshead resulted in a basket and foul that set up a potential three-point play.
The crowd at the Alaska Airlines Center rose to its feet and this looked like the moment when the Seawolves would take their first lead of the second half against Alabama Birmingham.
But it never happened.
Hollingshead missed the subsequent free throw and the Seawolves missed their opportunity as the Blazers imposed their Division I will against the only Division II team in the Great Alaska Shootout.
By the time the horn sounded, UAB had closed strong for a 63-52 victory in Sunday night’s third-place game before a crowd of nearly 1,100.
The Blazers finished the game on a 26-15 run to improve to 2-0 all-time against UAA in the first meeting between the two teams since the 1987 Shootout.
ASRC/ConocoPhillips Great Alaska Shootout
#4 Utah 117, Eastern Kentucky 72
UAB 63, UAA 52
Tori Hollingshead, UAA
Gianna Kneepkens, Utah
Mia Moore, UAB
Ines Vieira, Utah
Antwainette Walker, EKU
Most Outstanding Player
Alissa Pili, Utah
Mia Moore scored 11 points, Tracey Bershers added 10 and Denin DeShields furnished six points and nine assists.
DeShields was the difference maker down the stretch as she earned assists on three of five buckets when UAB seized control.
The play of the game came early in the fourth quarter when she threw a bounce pass to a cutting Moore along the baseline that resulted in an and-1 that gave the Blazers a 46-39 lead.
DeShields also set up back-to-back buckets by Kylee Schneringer. On the following possession Bershers cashed on a three-point play as the lead swelled to 57-44.
Hollingshead led UAA with 11 points, Senya Rabouin chipped in 10 and Kya Pearson pulled down a team-high eight rebounds.
UAA held its own on the boards but got burned on fastbreak points, where UAB (3-1) showcased supreme quickness in the backcourt to beat the Seawolves down the court for easy points.
In the first half, the Seawolves overcame a very slow and sloppy start to take a 26-25 lead into halftime.
They trailed 11-2 early and finished the first quarter with nearly as many turnovers (7) as points (8) on 3-of-12 shooting. Yet, the deficit stood at only five, which was erased shortly into the second quarter.
Hollingshead spearheaded the comeback, having a hand in nine points during a 17-4 run that put UAA ahead 23-17. The 6-foot-3 junior transfer had seven points and assisted on Pearson’s layup.
Pearson, who had two blocked shots and five rebounds in the half, cut hard under the basket and threw up a tough shot with a hand in her face.
Rabouin hit UAA’s lone 3-pointer with 1:18 left in the half as the team finished the first 10 minutes 1-for-10 from range.
The Seawolves fell to 40-57 all-time in Shootout games.
It’s a rarity for UAA not to win a game in this tournament, with this year being only the tenth time it’s happened since 1980.
The Seawolves have little time to lick their wounds.
They are right back at the Alaska Airlines Center Friday and Saturday against for a nonconference series against Adams State of Colorado.
Fresh of Alissa Pili’s Shootout homecoming with Utah, the Adams State team features a couple Anchorage natives in Angelline Nageak (Dimond) and Nyeniea John (West).