Alaska Anchorage won’t score any style points in basketball beauty pageants.
But the Seawolves do know how to win.
Patience and 17 free throws in the final 10 minutes of the second half helped UAA grab an 80-72 win over Montana State Billings Thursday night in Great Northwest Athletic Conference men’s basketball.
It was the first game outside of Alaska this season for the Seawolves (10-2, 4-0) who have now won 10 straight. UAA came to Alterowitz Gymnasium ranked 18th in the country.
Senior center Taylor Rohde led the Seawolves with a game-high 25 points and nine rebounds. Teammate Travis Thompson added 16 points, while four other players added six points or more.
“This group is greater than the sum of its parts.’’ said Seawolves coach Rusty Osborne. “We have tough kids who find a way to win.”
David Arnold scored 18 for the Yellowjackets (7-6, 2-3), including 11 of 12 from the free throw line. He missed his first attempt and made the next 11.
Antoine Proctor tossed in 15 and Taylor Stevens 14.
“I think sometimes we overanalyze things,’’ said MSUB coach Jamie Stevens.
MSUB actually led early, converting two UAA turnovers into points. But the Yellowjackets hit a lull, going scoreless for more than five minutes and allowing the Seawolves to piece together an 11-0 run.
“It seems like we got open looks,’’ Stevens said.
Noting his team ranks 10th in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference in shooting percentage, “I have to diagram better plays for our players to make shots,’’ he added.
UAA led 39-32 at halftime.
“We were not very good tonight,’’ Osborne said. “We made some turnovers (20), more than we usually do. Give them credit, they caused some of them. But in the second half, we just turned the ball over.”
The Seawolves shot 63 percent from the field in the first half and 60 percent for the game.
“What we do well is we have basketball players who make shots,’’ said Osborne.
With Proctor and Stevens scoring 11 points each in the second half, MSUB pulled within four, 71-67, with two minutes remaining after two Emery Henning free throws.
The Yellowjackets came within a Proctor 3-point attempt of making it a one possession game.
“We had a wide open look for a 3-pointer, you can’t ask for anything more than that,’’ said Stevens the coach. “We forced some turnovers that helped us get back into the game.”
A basket by Taylor Stevens made it 73-69 but Rohde converted a crucial three-point play with 69 seconds remaining in the game.
The transfer from Arizona State finished 9 of 13 from the field (69 percent) and 7 of 10 from the free throw line. He ranks among the top 20 in the nation for field goal percentage.
“He’s just tough,’’ said Stevens. “He’s relentless. He can go left, he can go right. He’s so good at positioning himself around the basket. He understands how to play basketball.”
“Tonight, the better team won. They made more plays. We have 50 days until our last game (of the regular season). We have to decide if we want to come together and improve as a team to make the conference tournament. We’re trying to get to the level where Anchorage is at. Right now, we’re not any where near that level.”
NOTES: MSUB hosts Alaska Fairbanks Saturday night. ... The Yellowjackets were without sophomore guard Preston Richards, who watched the game in street clothes and a walking boot on his left foot. Richards, who had 15 rebounds in last week’s win over Saint Martin’s suffered a foot injury against Western Oregon. ... UAA left seniors Mario Gill and Lonnie Ridgeway at home, both out with broken hands. Gill was an all-GNAC selection last year. ... This is only the second time the Yellowjackets have lost back-to-back games this season. UAA’s two losses were to Division I Murray State and Dartmouth to start the season. Murray State is a Top 25 team this year.