Miracle comeback falls short for SPU men’s basketball in GNAC tournament

Western Washington men, Alaska Anchorage women, champions

The number one ranked Seattle Pacific University Falcons faced off against the number five ranked University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves Friday, March 6 at Royal Royal Brougham Pavilion in a battle to move on to the championship game.

The tempo was set early during the game by the Seawolves when the defense started the game in a full-court press. Along with the press, the Seawolves only allowed the Falcons to hit on three three-point attempts in the first half.

Niko Bevins for the Seawolves was the story of the first half who had 15 first-half points including five three-pointers. At halftime, the score read 50-37, Seawolves with the lead.

“We had to take them off the three. They had eight in the first half. I think they finished with five, so a little bit better, but I think it was a little bit better pace on offense,” senior Guard Gabe Colosimo said regarding halftime adjustments the Falcons made. “We were just too stagnant and had to move the ball and figure out ways to get in the post and score out of there.”

The second half was a different story as the Falcons had a lot of energy and aggression coming out of the locker room. The Falcons rallied back into the game with their points off turnovers in the second half where they had 18 compared to the Seawolves 10.

The free throws were another highlight for the Falcons, as they were able to go to the line 14 times in the second half to climb back into the game.

The Falcons were down by one, and UAA’s Tyrus Hosley was at the free throw line. Hosley missed his free throw and Divant’e Moffit secured the ball with around four seconds left in the game. Moffit raced down the court to launch up a three-point shot for the win and it fell short as Alaska Anchorage moved on to face Western Washington in the GNAC championship game.

“In the locker room, we know we have been here before,” Moffit said. “ Down 13 at half this game, we didn’t panic. We stayed calm and knew that we could do it and cut the lead down and just felt a little short.”

The Falcons’ loss meant that the number five ranked Alaska Anchorage Seawolves would be facing off against the number two ranked Western Washington Vikings, who beat number six Alaska Fairbanks in the game prior, in the men’s GNAC Championship game. 

Saturday, March 7, the game was one to watch, with an intense and competitive atmosphere given off by both teams. Technical fouls, packed stands and electricity flew through the crowd.

With less than a minute remaining, the Seawolves were up 78-75 and seemed as though they had the ability to upset both the number one and number two seed in the conference to leave with a championship. 

That idea did not sit well with Vikings Leif Anderson, who will remember this game for the rest of his life. With the Vikings down by three points and 31 seconds left in the game, Anderson  was able to get off one last three-pointer. Anderson nailed the three and was fouled during the shot, making his free throw and giving the Vikings a one-point lead. 

The deal was then sealed with Vikings senior Trevor Jasinsky knocking down two free throw shots and there it was: a new champion was crowned. The Western Washington Vikings men’s basketball team became the GNAC champions with Jasinsky being named the tournament’s MVP.

With the remains of Western Washington’s jubilant championship celebration cleaned up and over with, Alaska Anchorage got their second shot of the night to beat the Vikings. This time, it was the two women’s teams in battle. 

From tip off it became very clear that the 30-2 Seawolves were the superior team. From Seawolves Head Coach Ryan McCarthy’s stomping and clipboard banging, to Safiyyah Yasin’s incredible driving and mid-range shooting ability that led her to a game high 26 points, Alaska Anchorage cruised to a 89-68 victory to clinch their fourth GNAC title since 2015.