FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) The UAF Women's basketball team just concluded a stretch that featured four games in seven days against the number one, two, five and six ranked teams in the conference. Looking to come out stronger on the other side, the Nanooks experienced the most devastating game in the fourth and final contest on Thursday against the Montana State Billings Yellowjackets.
A strong start to the second half gave the Nanooks a 61-52 lead with 8:24 remaining in game. UAF saw this lead dwindle down to nothing, less than nothing actually, as the 'Nooks were trailing 67-66 with 24 seconds to go in the fourth quarter. Head Coach Kerri Nakamoto drew up a great play out of a timeout that set up Jocelyn Gandara for a basket to reclaim the lead with six seconds left. MSUB immediately pushed the ball up the court on the ensuing play, where Taylor Cunningham found an open look on the wing, draining the 3-pointer with 1.1 seconds left to give the Yellowjackets a two-point lead. UAF freshman Alanna Conwell heaved a three-quarter court pass to Brittany Richards, who had a clean look at rim, but could not connect on the last second shot, and the Nooks fell 70-68.
"We did a good job scoring, but like, how do we give them a wide-open shot in transition with six seconds left?" Nakamoto said after the game. "We will continue to work, I think we are playing better basketball than we were a couple weeks ago, but it doesn't get any easier."
The loss extends UAF's losing streak to seven games, three of which have been by three points or less. Nakamoto talked about the team competing in more close games this year than they have in the past.
"I think it is actually harder, because we should be winning the games we are not winning that are close and it is small mistakes that we are making, and there are way too many of them. When you lose by one basket, if you take away one of those mistakes, of the 30 we had, and then we probably win, so it has actually a bit more frustrating," Nakamoto said with a laugh. "These are games, in my opinion, that we are giving away."
Gandara scored a team-high 23 points to go with six rebounds, while Kyle Wallace added 12 points in the loss. The 'Nooks will look to snap out of the funk when they visit Simon Fraser University on Thursday.
The UAF men's team was also in action on Thursday, visiting Nampa, Idaho to take on the Northwest Nazarene Nighthawks. The Nanooks allowed 50 second-half points, falling 83-75 to the Nighthawks, despite a 30-point performance from Shadeed Shabazz. They face Central Washington Saturday at 6:15 p.m. AK time.