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Alaska Anchorage knocks Brigham Young-Hawaii out of NCAA Division II tourney, 73-67STORY SUMMARY »
It all came down to one play that Brigham Young-Hawaii has run countless times before -- only on this occasion, Alaska Anchorage was ready for it.
The alley-oop pass from Seasiders point guard Corey Nielson to Lucas Alves was off just enough for Alaska Anchorage's Carl Arts to track down the basketball and throw it off Alves before it went out of bounds to seal the win.
Four made free throws over the final 28 seconds by the Seawolves gave them a 73-67 victory yesterday in the NCAA Division II West Regional final. And while the Seasiders were disappointed, head coach Ken Wagner was philosophical.
"These kids worked their hearts out for four years; well, actually, their life and when you lose a tough game close, coming down to one possession, it's tough on them," he said. "That's why we play, to prepare us for life. Life's going to deal us some blows like that."
The entire game was give and take as the teams traded runs throughout. The Seasiders opened with an 8-0 blitz, but fell behind 24-15 before regaining the lead for the last time, 27-26, with 2:40 left in the half.
"We've played plenty of games this year where that's happened so we're a pretty composed group of guys," Arts said. "We know that when it's crunch time like that we can handle the pressure."
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska » Brigham Young-Hawaii's signature play was there with 28 seconds to go yesterday in the NCAA Division II West Regional final and game three of the Seasiders' improbable weekend run as a No. 7 seed.
Down 69-67, Corey Nielson tossed the floater to the hoop and a leaping Lucas Alves. But the sophomore star tipped it and Alaska Anchorage's Carl Arts, already fading off his man, snatched it while lunging out of bounds and bounced it off Alves for a turnover.
Arts then buried four of four free throws for the 73-67 championship win as the host team avoided being BYU-Hawaii's third upset victim in this regional, played at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex in front of 1,160 rabid fans.
Alves had converted a traditional three-point play with a minute left to get the Seasiders to 69-67, abusing UAA's Jeremiah Trueman for his fifth foul and third against Alves in 5 minutes.
"Down five points, you've got to play with your heart," Alves said. "My heart was there, it was working out. But we came short at the end of the game."
"As soon as I saw him tip it and lose control I just grabbed it and threw it off of him," Arts said. "I wasn't going to try to save it underneath the opponent's basket."
Alves had 20 points and 10 rebounds to lead all players. Arts countered with 14 points and 10 boards. He was one of four Seawolves in double figures, including McCade Olsen with 18 points.
Paul Peterson finished with 12, all on 3-pointers, for BYUH. He and Alves made the all-regional team.
Three months ago to the day, Alaska Anchorage survived a 95-90 double-overtime win at the Cannon Activities Center in Laie, with Alves making a 3-pointer to force overtime and Arts nailing a bucket to get to the second OT. Beating the Seawolves, ranked fourth in the country in Division II and on their home court, was going to take a terrific effort.
"We had a little foul trouble but we fought hard, came back and were within two and had our chances right there," BYUH coach Ken Wagner said. "When you're down that far on the road against a real good team, I give our kids credit for fighting hard and keeping their heads."
Born and raised in Anchorage before moving to Texas after middle school, Peterson knows the city's hoops scene well.
"Before we came here, we wanted to play UAA in this kind of atmosphere," he said. "Once our nerves calmed down, we executed pretty well."
In the end, the top seed bested the seventh and the Seawolves move on to the Division II Elite Eight in Springfield, Mass. But Wagner and his point guard, Nielson, had things in perspective even before the game was over.
Nielson ended up with the ball with 2 seconds left. He held it under his arm and applauded both sections of fans and the Alaska Anchorage bench.
"To get to play in front of such a classy crowd that doesn't get on you ... the individual attacks aren't there," he said. "They did a great job hosting, the crowds have been excellent. They all wished us well after."
Class was the essence of Nielson's gesture. That didn't mean it was an easy task.
"It's hard," he said. "Our fans were gathered back in our gym, watching on the projector, and it's tough we couldn't bring it back for them.
"But it's a game. When it's all said and done, it's just a game."