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HomeSportCollege Hoops: Seawolves beat nationally ranked Saint Martin’s (again) to strengthen playoff...

College Hoops: Seawolves beat nationally ranked Saint Martin’s (again) to strengthen playoff position in GNAC

UAA’s Hasaan Herrington of Anchorage had six of his nine points during a key second-half run. Photo by Stephanie Burgoon/Alaska Sports Report

The comeback kings were at it again Thursday.

The UAA men’s basketball team lived up to its reputation as a team tough to put away after the Seawolves rallied in the second half to beat 17th-ranked Saint Martin’s 80-79 in Lacey, Wash., after Tyson Gilbert hit a free throw with 2 seconds left.

This was the team’s seventh come-from-behind victory in the second half by UAA, which dug itself out of a 12-point hole with 16 minutes left, thanks largely to the team’s host of homegrown players who helped the Seawolves sweep the Saints and deliver coach Rusty Osborne his 19th career win over a nationally ranked opponent.

With the win, UAA (18-8) strengthened its playoff position in the GNAC and moved to 8-2 in games decided by five points or fewer. The team was 1-10 in those situations a year ago.

“We just love the resilience of this group – they stayed in the fight for 40 minutes,” said Osborne, whose team has erased two double-digit second-half deficits in a three-game win streak.

GNAC Men’s Basketball

LEAGUE TEAM OVERALL
13-2 Montana State-Billings 19-6
10-5 Saint Martin’s 20-5
10-5 Northwest Nazarene 14-9
9-6 Central Washington 16-8
8-7 Alaska Anchorage 18-8
7-8 Seattle Pacific 14-14
7-9 Western Washington 15-12
6-9 Alaska Fairbanks 8-15
4-12 Simon Fraser 6-21
2-13 Western Oregon 5-18

THURSDAY
Central Washington 71, Simon Fraser 67
Western Washington 74, NW Nazarene 64
UAF 89, Western Oregon 84
UAA 80, #17 Saint Martin’s 79

UAA sits in sole possession of fifth place in the GNAC, one game out of fourth place. Three games remain in the regular season and the top six punch their ticket to the GNAC Tournament.

Gilbert and Dillon Barrientos each scored 14 points while Jaron Williams of Anchorage added a dozen off the bench.

The Seawolves also got a lift from Anchorage’s Hasaan Herrington (9 points), Sawyer Storms (8 points, 8 rebounds) and Anchorage’s Sloan Lentfer (7 points, 5 rebounds).

Saint Martin’s (20-5) built a nine-point halftime lead and saw that advantage swell to 50-38 early in the second half. A few minutes later it was 60-51 and UAA was forced to turn to its bench after three starters took a seat in foul trouble.

No worries, the local guys held it down.

Anchorage’s Hasaan Herrington (23) and Jaron Williams (1) were big off the bench Thursday while Tyson Gilbert (11) hit the game winner. Photo by Stephanie Burgoon/Alaska Sports Report

Former East High teammates Williams and Herrington combined for 10 straight points as the Seawolves pulled within 65-61. Later, Lentfer’s jumper made it 71-66 as UAA kept it within striking distance.

“We got great contributions from our bench when three starters went out with 12 minutes left with four fouls,” Osborne said. “We kept battling, and our defense and execution in the last four minutes was excellent.”

The Seawolves closed the game on a 13-5 run and took a 79-78 lead on Gilbert’s jumper with 41 seconds left.

With three games to play, the Seawolves head south for their final road game of the regular season Saturday at Western Oregon before returning to the Alaska Airlines Center next week.

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