Jan. 4, 2014
FAIRBANKS, Alaska -
For the second straight year, Western Washington University was beaten at the University of Alaska Fairbanks as the Nanooks prevailed 65-61 in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference men's basketball contest Saturday afternoon at Patty Center on the UAF campus.
The Vikings, ranked No.15 in the latest National Association of Basketball Coaches/NCAA Division II Top 25 Poll, fell to 9-3 overall and 3-1 in the GNAC. They were led by center Austin Bragg (Sr.,Longview/Mark Morris) with 21 points and 11 rebounds, both game highs.
UAF improved to 7-4 overall and 2-1 in GNAC action with its third straight win.
Last year, the Nanooks snapped a school-record 30-game WWU winning streak with a 77-73 victory over the No.2-ranked Vikings at Fairbanks.
UAF had four players score in double figures, led by center Sergej Pucar with 18 points. Andrew Kelly had 14, and Joe Slocum and Ronnie Baker each had 12. Kelly also had 11 rebounds and Slocum a game-high five assists.
Joey Schreiber (Fr., Renton/Eastside Catholic) scored 18 points for WWU, 13 in the second half. He made 4-of-6 3-pointers.
Standout Viking guard Richard Woodworth (Sr., Bellevue/Newport) did not play the final 16 minutes after suffering a sprained left ankle. He scored six points, entering the game with an 18.1 scoring average.
Trailing by 11, 61-50 with just over four minutes remaining, WWU scored nine straight points to cut the lead to two, 61-59, on two free throws by Bragg with 57.4 seconds remaining.
A missed free throw on the front end of a 1-and-1 by Slocum gave the Vikings the ball with 36 seconds left, but a turnover and two Pucar free throws put UAF in front 63-59 at 19.6.
WWU guard Robert Harris, Jr. (Sr., Kent/Rainier Beach) made it 63-61 on a layup with four seconds left, but Slocum sealed it for the Nanooks with two free throws.
UAF got out to a 15-4 lead in the first six minutes, but the Vikings whittled that down to one, 31-30, at halftime. WWU led early in the second half until a 12-5 run gave the Nanooks an 11-point lead,50-39, with 13:10 left in the game.
UAF's biggest advantage was 14 points, 59-45, with 8:08 remaining after a 3-point basket by Slocum. The Nanooks scored just one field goal the rest of the game.
WWU returns for a three-game home stand, beginning with Simon Fraser on Saturday, Jan. 11 (7:30 p.m.), in a GNAC counter.