Rick Stafford was a great player for Alaska Anchorage.
The 1997 Pacific West Conference player of the year, he is now a member of UAA’s athletic hall of fame.
Someday, he might have some company.
Younger brother Teancum Stafford rattled home a 3-pointer with eight seconds left to lift the Seawolves to a 71-69 victory over Montana State Billings Saturday night at Alterowitz Gymnasium.
It was the regular-season finale for both teams. Both had already qualified for the Great Northwest Athletic Conference tournament, March 6-9 in Lacey, Wash. MSUB is the defending tournament champion.
The Yellowjackets, the No. 5 seed, will play fourth-seeded Alaska Fairbanks in the first round. MSUB beat the Nanooks 80-70 on Thursday.
UAA only led twice in the game, the first 68-67 on two Stafford free throws with one minute remaining in the game and 53 seconds later on Stafford’s 3-pointer from the left win.
“It was a designed play,’’ said Stafford, a 23-year-old sophomore guard who finished with 16 points. “The defender did a good job of pushing me out. I thought a hand got me, I was lucky that it went in.”
MSUB led by as many as 22 in the first half.
“They were really ready to play and we weren’t,’’ Stafford said. “I was really impressed with Billings.”
The Yellowjackets (16-13, 9-9) were 9 of 17 from 3-point range in the first half but were 0 for 6 in the second half.
MSUB’s David Arnold scored 19 of his game-high 21 points in the first half, including five 3-pointers.
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“We hit some shots early but we didn’t sustain it in the second half,’’ said Yellowjacket head coach Jamie Stevens. “And obviously, they got to the foul line. But I guess that’s because we fouled them.”
UAA (18-8, 11-7) were 23 of 34 from the free throw line, while MSUB was 10 of 15.
The Seawolves trailed 44-27 at halftime.
“We came into the locker room and coach (Rusty Osborne) said, ‘Guys, you have to figure it out,’ ” Stafford said. “Sometimes you need that, the coach to put the responsibility back on you. He can’t be on the court and play.”
UAA opened the second half with a 15-2 run that expanded to 21-6 before a layin by MSUB’s Omar McDade.
Stafford had seven of the Seawolves’ first 17 points of the second half.
“I was able to hit a couple of quick shots in the second half and that opened up a lot of things for my teammates,’’ he said.
Jarrell Crayton’s short turnaround from the right baseline gave MSUB its last lead, 69-68.
The Yellowjackets and Seawolves traded turnovers in the final 6.7 seconds. MSUB had one final chance with 1.9 left. Robby Trabing in-bounded the ball to Arnold on the right sideline. Arnold was bumped by a pair of UAA defenders but there was no call.
McDade added 17 points for MSUB, 13 in the first half. Christian Leckband also had 16 for UAA, while Liam Gibcus had a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Notes: MSUB honored its four seniors – Arnold, Crayton, McDade and Cameron Cusworth – after the game … Robby Trabing had a team-best six rebounds for the Yellowjackets ... UAA has won three straight games in Billings … Stafford went on an LDS mission, 2008-10, in Southern California. He played for Snow College in Utah last season.