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Tyson Gilbert reaches 1,000 points as UAA men's basketball outpaces Central Washington for conference win

Jan. 12—The University of Alaska Anchorage men's basketball team accomplished a feat it hadn't done since February of last year with a 75-61 win over Central Washington on Thursday night at the Alaska Airlines Center.

While it was the Seawolves' third win it a row, it marked their first time winning consecutive games over Great Northwest Athletic Conference opponents this season coming off an overtime thriller over UAF last weekend. The Seawolves dropped their first two GNAC games in back-to-back road trips in late November and early December.

"We put ourselves in a hole with those two early losses so we have to climb the ladder back up the same way," UAA head men's basketball coach Rusty Osborne said.

Senior Tyson Gilbert, whose 16 points was tied for the game-high, also crossed a major career milestone as he eclipsed 1,000 career points by the end of the night.

"As a freshman, I'd always see people I know and my peers reach 1,000 points and it's definitely something I aspired to do but it's not what really motivates me," he said. "It's still a cool accomplishment for sure."

Gilbert came into Thursday's game needing just 15 to reach the milestone and by halftime, he was more than half the way there with eight and with his fourth 3-pointer of the night with just over 12 minutes left to play, he got it.

"My teammates did a really good job of finding me and we just played together as a team and open looks happened," he said.

Thursday's game also marked the Seawolves' first time playing on their home court since the week of Thanksgiving in late November when they hosted Adams State for a two-game series.

"We were road warriors there for a little bit," Gilbert said. "It was so nice to see the green and gold in the crowd and have some people that had our backs."

The Seawolves welcomed the return of home court advantage after having had to play in hostile environments for the past month and a half.

"It was nice to be back home in front of our own crowd, not being on the road in hotels, and have some rhythm to our season," Osborne said. "We haven't had any rhythm since our first two conference games."

The win pushed the Seawolves to 12-3 overall and 2-2 in the GNAC.

The Seawolves have navigated a pair of major competition gaps, a week off for finals and a trip to Hawaii for a tournament in the first portion of their season. Osborne hopes the new year will bring more consistency.

"It was nice to have played last Saturday, come back and have three days of practice, play Thursday, and then get prepared to play again," Osborne said.

It had been 46 days since the Seawolves played on their home court and they made the most of the opportunity with strong showing on both ends of the court both defensively and offensively. UAA shot 51.9 percent from the field while holding Central Washington to 37.5 percent. UAA outrebounded the Wildcats 37-33.

"Our last four or five games, we haven't shot very well but we have good shooters and some of that is just getting into a rhythm of the season," Osborne said. "You can't replicate game rhythm in practice."

Both he and Gilbert believed the team was overdue for an impressive shooting performance as a whole and that's exactly what they delivered against the Wildcats.

The Seawolves shot 50 percent or better from the field in both halves and converted 44 percent of their 3-pointers on the night including a 50 percent in the second half alone.

"We shoot a lot in practice and in our free time but with the work we put in, we know that it's going to come to fruition in the game," Gilbert said.

After a poor shooting performance as a team against instate rival UAF last weekend, the Seawolves' focus in practice this past week was to be "shot makers and not just shot takers," according to Gilbert.

"We have a lot of guys that hit shots as everyone saw tonight so as long as we stay in the gym and stay connected as a group, I really think we can do some big things," Gilbert said.

While Osborne doesn't expect his team to shoot as well as they did against Central Washington every game, finding more consistency is what they're ultimately striving for.

He was especially pleased with the strong shooting performance from senior guard Dathan Satchell, who tied for the second-most points on the team with 15.

"It was nice to see Dathan finally shoot like he is capable of," Osborne said. "He is an excellent shooter and as a senior, he has struggled and carries that weight a lot because he wants to be successful and has put a lot of time in."

Junior point guard Dillon Barrientos tied Satchell for the second-most points on the team with 15 and was two rebounds and two assists shy of recording a triple-double. He led the with eight boards and eight assists.

"We're going to have to rebound with all five guys," Osborne said. "Our guards are going to have to rebound especially if we have our undersized lineups in."

While there were stretches that the Seawolves didn't defend as well as they would've liked, they still take tremendous pride in being a strong defensive team with explosive offensive capabilities.

"I think that's what we hang our hat on," Osborne said. "When we defend and we make shots, we're going to have a really good chance to be successful against just about anybody."

The Seawolves are back in action Saturday when they host Northwest Nazarene at 7:30 p.m. at the Alaska Airlines Center.