Of Rusty Osborne’s 18 wins over nationally ranked opponents, Saturday night’s might be his favorite.
The longtime UAA men’s basketball coach picked up his first win over a No. 1-ranked team after the Seawolves stunned Saint Martin’s 71-68 in front of a crowd of 2,274 at the Alaska Airlines Center.
Two nights after losing to one of the worst teams in the GNAC, UAA came back to beat the top-ranked team in the country.
Senior guard Tyson Gilbert poured in a career-high 28 points and the Seawolves (15-5) held the Saints (17-2) well below their season scoring average (85.9).
“Defensively we’re all connected, and I’m just really proud of our guys how we bounced back from a tough loss the other night,” Gilbert said in a press release.
In addition to Gilbert’s great game, UAA also got 12 points and four assists from junior guard Dillon Barrientos and eight points, seven rebounds and three assists from senior forward Saywer Storms.
The Seawolves snapped Saint Martin’s 10-game winning streak as they racked up their first victory over a top-5 opponent since 2013 when they beat No. 5 Minnesota State. Before that you’d have to go all the way back to 2006 when UAA beat No. 5 Seattle Pacific.
Gilbert, of Highlands Ranch, Colo., hit 8-of-13 field goals, including five of seven 3s, as the Seawolves never trailed in the second half.
“Those are the kind of games that you dream about growing up,” Gilbert said. “The guys did a great job early of setting me up, and we just stuck with it. That was an incredible team win.”
UAA recovered from an early 9-2 deficit with a 21-0 run. In the second half, Gilbert and Barrientos combined for all 14 points during a 14-10 run that gave UAA a 50-45 advantage.
Senior guard Jaron Williams of Anchorage added eight points and drilled two big jumpers in the second half, with the second one staking the Seawolves to a 65-61 cushion.
Sophomore guard Hasaan Herrington of Anchorage had five points and a season-high six rebounds to go with a +15 plus/minus in 23 minutes. He converted a layup to make it 67-61.
Not only did the Seawolves outrebound the visitors from Lacey, Wash., 39-31, but they held a 22-20 edge in points in the paint and enjoyed a 20-5 advantage in second-chance points.
“We showed great character and resilience all night,” said Osborne. “Tyson was amazing, but it was really our depth and contributions up and down the lineup that helped us get this win.
“Trey Evans gave us some big minutes in the first half, and guys like Hasaan Herrington, Jaron Williams and others made huge hustle plays that made the difference late.”
Osborne owns a 18-25 all-time record against top-25 teams since taking over in 2004 and inched closer to the 350-win career benchmark.
UAA ALL-TIME COACHES
UAF 72, Western Oregon 67
In Fairbanks, former West Valley High star Tyriq Luke scored five of his 13 points during a pivotal second-half run that helped the Nanooks hold off Western Oregon and snap a seven-game losing streak.
After his team built a 15-point lead only to see it shrink to 57-53 at the 8-minue mark, Luke knocked down back-to-back jumpers including a 3-pointer to create some breathing room.
Later, the Wolves pulled within 70-67 with 9 seconds left but Abdullahi Mohamed made two free throws to seal the deal.
Mohamed led UAF with 17 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and two blocked shots.
Anchorage’s Demarcus Hall-Scriven chipped in 13 points and a season-high four assists. This was his fifth double-figure scoring effort in the last nine games.
Luke pulled down a half dozen rebounds to help the Nanooks win the battle of the boards 38-34. The Alaskan also hit three 3s for the second time this season.
Terrell Peter of Fairbanks logged five minutes in his fourth appearance of the season. Last week the junior transfer, who sat out last season, scored his first point in a Nanooks uniform.
GNAC Men’s Basketball