WWU battles to big win over Alaska Fairbanks, 53-51

Austin Bragg

Jan. 30, 2014

Box Score

BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Center Austin Bragg (Sr., Longview/Mark Morris) notched his eighth double-double of the season with 18 points and a game-high 14 rebounds, lifting Western Washington University to a 53-51 victory over University of Alaska Fairbanks in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference men's basketball contest Thursday at Sam Carver Gymnasium on the WWU campus.

WWU, which improved to 14-4 overall and stayed tied with Seattle Pacific for first in the GNAC at 8-2, triumphed for the fourth straight game despite a season-low point mark that was 35 below its 88-point-a-game average.

UAF fell to 12-6 overall and 7-3 in the GNAC despite a game-high 20 points from forward Andrew Kelly, who was 10-of-13 from the field and added nine rebounds. The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for the Nanooks, who defeated WWU, 65-61, at Fairbanks on Jan. 4.

WWU trailed, 33-31, with 12:46 to play, but went on a 14-2 run to take a 45-35 advantage with 6:39 to go. Dane Thorpe (Sr., Bellingham/Sehome) came off the bench to contribute six points in the run.

The Vikings were still up by nine with under two minutes remaining, but 3-pointers in the final minute by Ronnie Baker and Stefan Tica closed the margin to two, 53-51, with 1.9 seconds left. WWU's Colby Mitchell (Jr., Chugiak, AK) then missed two free throws with 0.6 seconds left, but Kelly's 80-foot heave at the buzzer was well off-line to the right.

Anye Turner (Jr., Tumwater/Black Hills) had 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Vikings, who shot a season-low 35.4 percent (17-of-48) from the field, but held the Nanooks to 36.8 percent (21-of-57) and had a 42-33 advantage in rebounding.

The Vikings had a 9-2 lead less than five minutes into the contest, but had just one field goal in the next eight minutes, allowing UAF to eventually tie the score at 21-21 before WWU took a 27-24 halftime lead.

WWU is now 11-1 at home this season and has won 38 of its last 39 games at Carver Gym.

The Vikings have now won their last seven straight home games against UAF, the Nanooks last winning at Carver Gym on Jan. 27, 2007.

WWU entertains Alaska Anchorage on Saturday (9 p.m.) in a GNAC counter that will be televised live on ROOT Sports.


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