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Third time not charm for Nanook Men's BB team

Submitted by Dave Geringer
Phone: 6807


UAF senior guard, Chris Smith was one of the only Nanooks who had any success.The third time wasn't the charm for the University of Alaska Fairbanks men's basketball team.

Trying to win their first round game in the 2004 BP Top of the World Classic for the third year in succession, the Nanooks fell victim to a 17-0 run early in the second half and lost to Central Florida, 74-63, at the Carlson Center Thursday evening.

Trailing at halftime, 26-23, UAF closed to within a point when junior forward Ivan Miskovic (Belgrade, Serbia/Monroe Catholic HS) scored just after the start of the second half. But the Knights then countered with their decisive run. Marcus Avant began UCF's streak with a three-pointer. Successive steals by Gary Johnson, Kingsley Edwards and Johnson again resulted in a pair of free throws by Anthony Williams, an Edwards layup and William Bakanowsky's three-pointer that put the Knights ahead by 11. UCF scored 10 more points in succession before junior forward Justin Bourne (Fairbanks, AK/Lathrop HS) ended the run by connecting on a free throw.

The Knights built their lead to 23 points, 60-37 with 7:30 to play before the Nanooks came back. Senior guard Brad Oleson (North Pole, AK/North Pole HS/Peninsula College) ignited the comeback with a pair of layups, and senior guard Chris Smith (San Bernardino, CA/Cal State Fullerton) followed with three consecutive three-pointers. A steal and another layup by Oleson cut UCF's lead to eight points at 66-58, but UAF could come no closer.

We come to win, and we were disappointed," said Nanook Head Coach Frank Ostanik. "I was pleased that we came back and fought hard and competed well, and that's a good sign. You heard all the coaches at the luncheon talk about where they are and where they have to go, and a game like this gives you a chance to find out where you are, and a chance to get better."

UAF senior guard, Brad Oleson found the going tough against the Central Florida Knights.

Smith led UAF with 20 points, while Oleson added 11. Williams led all scorers with 21 points, while Bakanowsky chipped in with 13.

The Knights made 52.1 per cent of their shots from the field, 60 per cent in the second half when they were 15 for 25.

"We knew that stopping Brad Oleson was a key to this ballgame, and Marcus Johnson and Kingsley Edwards made it tough for him to get an open look," said UCF Head Coach Kirk Speraw. "Give Fairbanks credit, they battled back. We're still a work in progress."

"We really didn't have the focus or the execution that we were looking for," Ostanik said. "It seemed as though for the first 32 minutes of the game, we couldn't get two or three baskets in a row. They made an 8-0 run in the first half, and it took almost the rest of the half to catch up. We can't allow runs like that. We have a small margin for error against a team like Central Florida."

The defeat was the first for the Nanooks, and they fell to 2-1. UCF improved to 1-0. UAF will play the loser of Thursday night's late game between Georgia Southern and Utah State at 5:30 p.m. Saturday evening, while the Knights will play the winner of the USU-GSU game Saturday at 12 noon.