Men's Basketball: UAF Wins GNAC Team of the Week Award
Pat Voeut earned MVP honors for UAF in the GCI Alaska Invitational (Photo by Paul McCarthy).
Pat Voeut earned MVP honors for UAF in the GCI Alaska Invitational (Photo by Paul McCarthy).

Monday, November 19, 2012

FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Led by tournament MVP Pat Voeut, the University of Alaska Fairbanks won three games last weekend to earn the team title in the fourth annual GCI Alaska Invitational at The Patty Center.

UAF improved to 4-1 on the season with the three victories and is off to its best start since opening its 2006-07 season with four consecutive wins.

The three wins also earned the Nanooks the GNAC Team of the Week award.

UAF defeated Cal State Monterey Bay 80-73, Oklahoma Panhandle 77-54 and Colorado Christian 85-72.

The CCU win was especially significant in that it avenged a 72-63 loss to the same team just a week earlier in Anchorage.

“We’re trying to use these games to get better,” UAF second-year coach Mick Durham said.  “Obviously you can evaluate with the Colorado Christian game, losing one week and winning the next.”

Voeut led UAF in the tournament scoring 46 points and also dishing out a team-high 19 assists.  He also had nine rebounds and five steals.  The 5-11 junior guard from Bellingham was deadly from the floor, making 17 of 26 shots including three of six treys.

He was joined on the all-tournament team by UAF center Sergej Pucar (6-11, Jr., Belgrade, Serbia) and forward Stefan Tica (6-7, Jr., Belgrade, Serbia)

Both players scored 39 points, each making eight three-pointers (Pucar in 14 attempts and Tica in 16).

Pucar also had 23 rebounds, seven assists and five steals, while Tica had 10 rebounds and a team-high four blocked shots.

They weren’t the only players to have outstanding tournaments.  Forward Andrew Kelly (6-7, Jr., Gilbert, AZ), a transfer from Chandler-Gilbert, scored 22 points and also had 25 rebounds, 11 steals and eight assists.

Guard Dominique Brinson (6-2, Sr., Juneau, AK) scored 31 points and also had 11 assists.

UAF had some dominating statistical performances, out shooting its three opponents .474 to .388, outblocking them 12-2 and coming up with 18 more steals (40-22).  They also had 12 fewer turnovers (51-63).

UAF’s four early wins nearly matches its entire 2011-12 win total when it posted a 5-23 record in Durham’s first season in Fairbanks.

UAF will try to match that win total this weekend in Bellingham when they play Southwest Baptist and Concordia (Minn.) Friday and Saturday in the WWU Chuck Randall Thanksgiving Classic.

“It’s important this time of year to get better each week and that’s going to be the case this week,” Durham said.  “Our guys are feeling pretty good about their performances but you still have to get better with GNAC play about a week away.”

AROUND THE GNAC: It was a great week for GNAC teams which combined for a 17-3 won-loss record.  Western Washington, Central Washington and Seattle Pacific all went 2-0 on trips to Hawaii including victories against perennial power BYU-Hawaii ... No GNAC team has a losing record at this stage of the young season and the 10 conference schools have combined for a 29-8 won-loss record, a .784 winning percentage ... UAF’s tournament victory was its first in a home event since it won the 2002 BP Top of the World Classic in 2002. That one made history as UAF became the first Division II team to win a Division I tournament defeating Wisconsin-Green Bay, Nebraska and Weber State.  The Nanooks went on to tie for the GNAC title and advanced to the NCAA West Regionals, beginning a run of three consecutive NCAA post-season appearances.