The Alaska Airlines Center is no longer a house of horrors for the UAF men’s basketball team.
The Nanooks broke an eight-game losing streak at the arena and won in Anchorage for the first time in 21 years after knocking off the Seawolves 65-49 in Saturday’s showdown before a crowd of 1,749.
All-GNAC center Abdullahi Mohamed was marvelous in the second half and finished with 19 points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots. The 6-foot-10 senior scored from the perimeter to the post as his outside game complemented his bullish inside presence.
Mohamed finished 8-of-19 from the floor and hit one of three 3-point attempts and two other jump shots, including a terrific turnaround jumper from the elbow.
Anchorage native Demarcus Hall-Scriven had a fine homecoming with his finest game in a Nanooks uniform. The 6-foot-3 second-year transfer out of Mountain City Christian Academy recorded his first double-double at the Division II level with 14 points and a career-high 10 rebounds.
Hall-Scriven and Mohamed helped the Nanooks (5-13) dominate the glass with a 51-34 rebounding advantage, which led to second, third and sometimes fourth chance opportunities.
UAF broke a 19-game losing streak in Anchorage as acting head coach Drew Hedman became the first UAF coach to win in Rage City since Al Sokaitis on Feb. 22, 2003, at the Avis Sports Center.
The Seawolves (15-6), who were coming off a win over No. 1-ranked Saint Martin’s, never found their groove and were out of sync early and often. Three times UAA players turned the ball over after stepping out of bounds and the team had to have set a season high in air balls en route to shooting 28% on a 17-of-61 clip.
It was like that from the beginning as UAA missed seven of its first eight shots and went eight minutes without scoring before senior Jaron Williams of Anchorage drilled a corner 3 to give UAA a 5-4 lead at the 11:33 mark in the very low-scoring start.
Mohamed was hard to guard and the Seawolves threw a bunch of defenders at him in Sawyer Storms, Luke Devine, Sloan Lentfer and Lyman Simmons, a 6-foot-10 freshman from Utah who scored on a hook shot and free throw to give UAA its final lead at 8-7.
Hall-Scriven scored seven points in the first half, highlighted by a fabulous floater in the lane after he split a pair of defenders off the bounce. Early in the second half he canned an NBA-range 3 as UAF’s lead grew to 24-17.
The Seawolves pulled within 34-31 after Anchorage’s Hasaan Herrington converted a backdoor layup on a beautiful bounce pass in traffic from Storms.
After that, though, it was all Fairbanks as the visitors closed it out on a 31-18 run to run away with the 113th all-time meeting between the two Alaska teams.
This was just the sixth time UAF won in Anchorage in 56 games dating back to 1977. The Seawolves lead the series 87-26, including an overtime win in Fairbanks a month ago.
The rivalry hasn’t been that competitive over the years, but the Nanooks have changed that recently by winning three of the last five meetings for the first time since the Brad Oleson Era two decades ago.
RAGE CITY VS GOLDEN HEART CITY
Last 5 meetings
UAF 65-49 2/3/2024
UAA 64-58 1/6/2024
UAF 89-79 1/28/2023
UAA 81-59 1/31/2022
UAF 63-58 3/4/2022
This result was indicative of how competitive the GNAC has been this season. Already one of the toughest top-to-bottom Division II leagues in the country, the GNAC flexed its strength Saturday when last-place Simon Fraser upset league leader Saint Martin’s and seventh-place Seattle Pacific defeated fourth-place Northwest Nazarene in addition to eighth-place UAF beating fifth-place UAA.
Nobody is safe in the GNAC. The only thing predictable is unpredictability.
Saturday’s game kicked off the second half of the 18-game league schedule. The top six teams in the final league standings advance to the GNAC Tournament, March 7-9 in Ellensburg, Wash.
GNAC Men’s Basketball