It was a positive atmosphere at halftime in the University of Alaska Fairbanks women’s basketball team’s locker room.
The Nanooks and the visiting Alaska Anchorage Seawolves were tied at 39 after the second quarter of Tuesday night’s Great Northwest Athletic Conference game on the Alaska Airlines Court in the UAF Patty Center.
“Our talk at the half was the score is 0-0, we have to keep the same intensity,” said freshman guard Sam Tolliver during the postgame media conference. “UAA was surprised that we kept up with them. We were talking about how they’re going to come out and go hard on us, and we need to do the same thing.
“So our game plan was to just to come out with a lot of energy, intensity and just keep fighting.”
The Nanooks kept fighting but the Seawolves fought harder. UAF lost 79-67 in the 101st edition of the conference and intrastate rivalry.
Tolliver and Seawolves junior forward Tennae Voliva shared the game-high of 16 points each.
The Nanooks got 11 points and four rebounds from senior guard Sabrina Ungaro, and 10 points, a game-high nine rebounds and a team-best four steals from junior guard Jocelyn Ungaro.
The loss was the Nanooks’ 24th straight in the feud, which UAF trails 30-71. It also was the sixth straight setback this season for the Nanooks, who slipped to the bottom of the 11-team NCAA Division II conference with a record of 6-10 overall and 1-6 GNAC.
Nanooks head coach Kerri Nakamoto was upbeat about her team’s performance Tuesday night.
“I was proud of how we came out today. We played hard, we executed what we were trying to execute,” Nakamoto said during the media conference. “We didn’t get down on ourselves.
“Some things that we’ve been working on I thought we did really well. We just had a few stretches were we struggled offensively. So that ended up hurting us.
“But I’m proud of the growth that we’ve shown. Even though we’ve lost the last couple (of games), I think we’ve played significantly better each game, so I think that’s a positive thing moving forward.”
One positive for the Nanooks was matching the Seawolves in rebounds, 29 apiece. However, UAF finished with a 24-20 edge on the defensive boards.
“In practice, we’ve been pounding our posts (players) and our guards to go and rebound, and I thought we did that,” Ungaro said. “I thought we really went in there and grabbed the rebounds against UAA.
“Which is like a tough call because they are bigger than us, but I think we have more heart.”
The Seawolves raised their first-place record in the GNAC to 17-1 overall and 7-0 conference.
Senior guard Safiyyah Yasin contributed 15 points and UAA junior guard/forward Sala Langi scored 12 points and collected a game-high five steals.
Sophomore guard and Fairbanks native Jahnna Hajdukovich had two rebounds and an assist in a 24-minute, 8-second stint for the Seawolves. Freshman guard Sierra Tate, who graduated last spring from West Valley High School, came off the UAA bench for the last 48 seconds of the contest.
The Nanooks return to the Patty Center to host the Montana State Billings Yellowjackets in a GNAC game at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter:@newsminersports.