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Seawolves, Yellowjackets Keen To Build On Unbeaten Starts
No. 2 Alaska Anchorage returns to league play on Saturday against in-state rival Alaska. The Seawolves have the most wins among GNAC teams with eight.
No. 2 Alaska Anchorage returns to league play on Saturday against in-state rival Alaska. The Seawolves have the most wins among GNAC teams with eight.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

WEST REGION DOMINANCE: In the latest edition of the Division II Sports Information Directors of America Women’s Basketball Poll, six GNAC teams are ranked within the top-10 while two more receive votes. Alaska Anchorage, Concordia, Montana State Billings, Northwest Nazarene, Seattle Pacific and Simon Fraser are all ranked, while Western Oregon and Western Washington received votes.

BREEN NAMED DII NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE WEEK: After leading her team to a 7-0 start with a pair of high-scoring affairs last weekend, Montana State Billings senior forward Alisha Breen was named by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) as its Division II Women’s National Player of the Week.

Breen recorded just the 15th 60-point weekend in GNAC history, helping the Yellowjackets remain perfect on the year with wins in their first two GNAC games last week. Breen recorded 31 points in a 75-62 win over Western Washington last Thursday and 29 more in a 70-61 victory over Simon Fraser on Saturday.

Thursday’s season-high marked Breen’s fifth-career 30-point game. She connected on 11 of 17 shots from the field including a perfect 4 for 4 from beyond the arc while making all five free-throw attempts. Breen was even more efficient on Saturday, shooting 9 for 12 from the field while connecting on 4 of 5 3-pointers.

In addition to her 60 points, Breen had a dozen rebounds, two assists, two steals, and one block in 73 minutes of action. She shot 20 of 29 (68.9 percent) from the field, 8 of 9 (88.8 percent) from 3-point range and converted 12 of 13 free throws (92.3 percent). Breen leads the GNAC with 21.7 points per game and is shooting 51.4 percent from beyond the arc.

ABOUT LAST WEEK...: Entering the week with four undefeated teams, GNAC action saw two of those squads fall to 1-1. No. 21 Seattle Pacific saw its perfect start snapped with a 59-57 loss to Concordia on Thursday. Western Oregon saw its 4-0 start come to an end after falling to Seattle Pacific 87-52 in its second conference game of the season.

While Alaska Anchorage and Montana State Billings remain perfect, seven GNAC teams stand at 1-1 in the conference. Northwest Nazarene gave the No. 2 Seawolves a scare, seeing its fourth-quarter rally fall short in a 78-68 contest at the Alaska Airlines Center. Saint Martin’s earned its first conference win after winning just one GNAC contest all last year. Its 5-4 record matches the Saints’ total win tally from the 2016-17 campaign.

ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAMS: The following GNAC players have been selected to all-tournament teams during the 2017-18 season...

Stanislaus State CCAA/GNAC Challenge (Nov. 10-11, Turlock, Calif.): Raquel Jardine, NNU (Most Valuable Player), Lexi Tubbs, NNU, Bailey Cartwright, CU.

West Region Tip-Off Classic (Nov. 10-11, San Francisco, Calif.): Alisha Breen, MSUB (Most Valuable Player), Vanessa Stavish, MSUB.

Azusa Pacific West Region Crossover Classic (Nov. 17-18, Azusa, Calif.): Jordan McPhee, SPU; Courtney Hollander, SPU, Hannah Stipanovich, WWU.

Seawolf Hoops Classic (Nov.17-18, Anchorage, Alaska): Hannah Wandersee, UAA (Most Valuable Player), Yazmeen Goo, UAA, Ashlie Blackburn, UAF, Rodericka Ware, UAA.

Yellowjacket Classic (Nov. 16-18, Billings, Mont.): Alisha Breen, MSUB (Most Valuable Player), Danielle Hartzog, CU, Bailey Cartwright, CU, Rylee Kane, MSUB, Rachel Koehler, MSUB.

GCI Great Alaska Shootout (Nov. 21-23, Anchorage, Alaska): Shelby Cloninger, UAA (Most Valuable Player), Hannah Wandersee, UAA, Yazmeen Goo, UAA.

Lynda Goodrich Classic (Nov. 24-25, Bellingham, Wash.): Hannah Stipanovich, WWU, Gracie Castaneda, WWU, Elin Johansson, SMU.

THIS WEEK'S GNAC PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Alisha Breen
Montana State Billings
F • 5-10 • Senior • Choteau, Mont.

Breen finished with a monster 60-point weekend for the Yellowjackets, shooting 68.9 percent from the field (20-29), 88.8 percent from three-point range (8-9) and 92.3 percent from the free throw line (12-13) in two wins to open the conference season. Breen opened the week with a GNAC season-high 31 points and six rebounds in Thursday’s 75-62 win over Western Washington. She made 11 of 17 from the field, 4 of 4 from three-point range and 5 of 5 from the free throw line. Breen then finished with 29 points and six rebounds in Saturday’s 70-61 win over Simon Fraser, connecting on 9 of 12 from the field, 4 of 5 from the three-point line and 7 of 8 from the free throw line.

Also Nominated: Lexi Carpenter (Alaska), Hannah Wandersee (Alaska Anchorage), Kizzah Maltezo (Concordia), Saniah Simpson-Patu (Saint Martin’s), Gracie Castaneda (Western Washington).

AROUND THE GNAC
ALASKA

• The Nanooks began the GNAC season 0-2 after falling to Northwest Nazarene and Central Washington last week.

• Alaska opened play at the Alaska Airlines Court on Thursday night, falling to Northwest Nazarene 99-57.

• Led by junior forward Angela Murnion’s 12 points, three Nanooks registered double-digit points on Thursday. Murnion’s 12 points mark a career-best, who shot 5 for 9 from the floor including 2 for 5 from behind the arc.

• Junior center Josie Sewell shot a perfect 5 for 5 from the floor to register a career-high 10 points.

• The Nanooks dropped their second GNAC contest Saturday night, as UAF fell 81-72 to Central Washington at the Alaska Airlines Court.

• Sophomore guard Lexi Carpenter had a monster night, collecting a career-high 32 points in 35 minutes of action. Carpenter went 12 for 18 from the floor, including 5 of 10 from behind the arc to lead all players in scoring. Carpenter was the only Nanook to score in double figures.

• Alaska is second in the GNAC with 15.3 offensive rebounds per game and is third with 29.2 defensive boards per game. Carpenter is sixth in the league at 15.5 points per game.

Junior forward Sanni Salonen has missed just one free throw this season, ranking her fourth in the GNAC with a .917 free throw percentage. Carpenter leads the GNAC with 2.7 three-point field goals per game.

• Alaska returns to competition this Saturday when it takes on in-state rival Alaska Anchorage in a GNAC matchup at the Alaska Airlines Court.

ALASKA ANCHORAGE

• Continuing its dominance in 2017, No. 2 Alaska Anchorage remained a perfect 8-0 after a pair of comfortable home wins against GNAC opponents last week.

• Forcing 24 turnovers, No. 2 Alaska Anchorage came away with a 70-58 win over Central Washington in the GNAC opener for both schools Thursday.

• Junior forward Hannah Wandersee finished with a game-high 17 points. She drained eight baskets, tying the single-game mark for most by a Seawolf this season.

• In their 10-point win over Northwest Nazarene, Wandersee scored a career-high 27 points while senior forward Shelby Cloninger had 18 points and eight rebounds to help UAA to a 78-68 win Saturday night.

  The Seawolves also got six assists and a career-high 13 points from sophomore guard Yazmeen Goo as they improved to 8-0 overall. The Seawolves are just one of two GNAC teams to remain undefeated this season.

• Alaska Anchorage is second in the GNAC in scoring offense (80.6) and lead the league in scoring defense (57.1), scoring margin (+23.5), assists (179), steals (120) and turnover margin (+8.25).

• Wandersee is third in the GNAC with 17.1 points per game, boasting a .578 field goal percentage.

• Junior guard Kian McNair leads the GNAC and is 9th in Division II with 3.50 steals per game while senior guard Rodericka Ware is 18th in the nation with 3.14 steals per game.

• The Seawolves are ranked No. 1 in the D2SIDA West Region Poll for the fourth straight week and No. 2 in both the D2SIDA Media and WBCA Division II rankings.

• Alaska Anchorage continues league play this week with a 7:30 p.m. tilt this Saturday at Alaska.

CENTRAL WASHINGTON

• Central Washington bounced back from a 12-point loss to Alaska Anchorage on Thursday to defeat the Nanooks Saturday night, improving to 1-1 in conference play.

• Despite sophomore forward Kaelie Flores and senior guard Beverly Verduin’s double-figure scoring efforts, Central Washington fell 70-58 to the Seawolves.

• Senior forward Taylor Baird pulled down a team-high eight rebounds. Junior guard Sadie Mensing finished six assists, while senior guard Jasmin Edwards added nine points and four assists.

• Bouncing back two days later, Mensing led a quartet of Wildcats with double-digit scoring efforts as Central Washington defeated Alaska 81-72.

• The Wildcats outscored or tied the Nanooks in all but one quarter. Their bench combined for 23 points while the Wildcats scored 30 points in the paint. They also managed 18 points off of 16 Nanook turnovers. Baird led the Wildcats in rebounding with nine. In the second half, the Wildcats shot 94 percent from the free throw line.

• Central Washington leads the GNAC and is 39th in Division II with 4.3 blocked shots per game. The Wildcats are third in the league with 15.1 offensive rebounds per game.

• Edwards ranks third in the GNAC with five assists per game and is shooting .452 from beyond the arc. Flores is third in the GNAC with 1.3 blocks per game.

• Central Washington is back in action next Tuesday with a trip to Academy of Art at 2 p.m.

CONCORDIA

• Concordia came up with a huge win last week, knocking off then No. 13 Seattle Pacific to give the Falcons their first loss of the season.

• Concordia held SPU to just 30 percent shooting including nine percent from three-point range in their 59-57 win over the Falcons. 

• Senior guard Danielle Hartzog paced the Cavaliers with a game-high 15 points. Junior guard Keesha Sarman and junior forward Erin Higbie each added 10 points.

• Playing without Hartzog Saturday night, Concordia had their three-game win streak snapped with a 74-65 loss to Saint Martin’s.

  Sophomore guard Kizzah Maltezo scored a team-high 18 points on 7 for 17 shooting. Junior forward Bailey Cartwright chipped in 15 points while grabbing a team-high eight rebounds.

• The Cavaliers outrebounded the Saints 39-29 and grabbed 21 offensive boards.  Concordia outscored the Saints 17-5 in second-chance points, but Saint Martin’s scored 16 points off of 16 CU turnovers.

• In the latest D2SIDA West Region rankings released Tuesday, Concordia is ranked for the first time this year at No. 8.

• Concordia is third in the GNAC in scoring defense allowing 60 points per game. The Cavs also boast the best 3-point field goal percentage defense at 25.6 percent. Cartwright leads the GNAC and is 54th in Division II with 9.6 rebounds per game. Sarman has been the main ball handler for the Cavs this year averaging 5.6 assists, good for second in the league. She has also shot well from deep, recording a .600 mark from downtown (9-15).

• The Cavaliers end their five-game homestand this Saturday against Warner Pacific in a non-conference contest at LCEF Court. They return to GNAC action next Tuesday against Northwest Nazarene.

MONTANA STATE BILLINGS

• Off to the best start in program history, Montana State Billings remains at home this week to host a pair of non-conference games during its annual Eastern Montana College Throwback Weekend.

• For the second time this year and fourth time in her career, senior forward Alisha Breen garnered GNAC Player of the Week after a high-scoring weekend in conference action. That award was followed by United States Basketball Writer’s Association (USWBA) Division II National Player of the Week recognition, which was announced on Tuesday.

• Breen had just the 15th 60-point weekend in conference history, scoring 31 points in MSUB’s 75-62 win over Western Washington and 29 more in their 70-61 win over Simon Fraser.

• She shot 68.9 percent from the field (20 of 29), 88.8 from beyond the arc (8 of 9), and 92.3 percent (12 of 13) from the charity stripe. Entering this week, Breen leads the GNAC and ranks 16th in Division II with 21.7 points per game and is No. 11 in the nation shooting 51.4 percent from beyond the arc.

• Shooting 44.8 percent from the floor, the Yellowjackets have the second-highest field goal percentage in the GNAC. They have also shared the ball pretty well this year, ranking second in the GNAC and 20th in Division II with 18.3 assists per game.

• Entering the week tied for eighth in Division II with 6.29 assists per game, senior point guard Rylee Kane has been productive all season. In addition to six assists in both games last week, Kane pulled down seven rebounds against the Vikings and a career-best eight against the Clan. Entering this week, Kane remains fifth in MSUB history and ninth in GNAC history with 428 career assists.

  Six of the 10 teams ranked in this week’s D2SIDA West Region Poll hail from the GNAC, including the Yellowjackets who check in at No. 5.

• Montana State Billings and Alaska Anchorage are the only two undefeated teams left in the GNAC.

NORTHWEST NAZARENE

• Northwest Nazarene opened up its GNAC slate with a split in Alaska.

• The Nighthawks won it’s GNAC opener 99-57 on Thursday against Alaska.

• Junior guard McKenna Walker led all scorers with 18 points, going 4 for 4 from beyond the arc. Sophomore guard Avery Albrecht added 14 points and five rebounds.

• Northwest Nazarene was 11 of 22 from the 3-point line and shot 52.3 percent (34 of 65) from the field.

• Despite a spirited fourth-quarter rally, the Nighthawks fell 78-68 to Alaska Anchorage last Saturday. Northwest Nazarene pulled to within eight twice in the final three minutes but turned it over on both ensuing possessions.

• Sophomore guard Marina Valles scored 17 points to lead four players in double figures. Senior guard Colette Gall recorded 12 points and eight rebounds while senior guard Lexi Tubbs added 12 points and six rebounds. Tubbs is 12th in the GNAC with 12.4 points per game while Valles is tied for seventh with a .500 field goal percentage.

• Northwest Nazarene is one of six GNAC teams ranked in the top-10 of the D2SIDA West Region Poll. The Nighthawks are tied for sixth with Point Loma.

• The Nighthawks boast the GNAC’s highest-scoring offense at 81.6  points per game and is 19th in Division II with a .456 field goal percentage. Northwest Nazarene is also averaging 10.4 steals per game, good for second in the GNAC.

• Northwest Nazarene returns home for GNAC play and will face Concordia at 2 p.m. on Dec. 19.

SAINT MARTIN’S

• With a win in its second GNAC game of the season last week, Saint Martin’s has already matched its 2016-17 overall and conference win total at 5-4 (1-1 GNAC) this season.

• Despite trailing by 12 points in the second half, the Saints rallied to tie the game late in the fourth quarter against Western Oregon. The Wolves, however, held off SMU for a 72-66 GNAC victory.

• Sophomore guard Makenna Schultz recorded a career-high 20 points and eight rebounds to fuel the second-half comeback attempt that tied the score at 60-60. The Wolves clinched the victory at the free throw line, going seven for eight in the final minute.

• On Saturday, a career game from freshman guard Saniah Simpson-Patu lifted Saint Martin’s to a 74-65 road victory over Concordia. The win gave SMU head coach Christy Martin her first GNAC win with the Saints.

• Simpson-Patu carried the Saints with 23 points, six rebounds and four assists while senior forward Elin Johansson added 19 points and six boards as the Saints held off the Cavaliers’ fourth-quarter comeback attempt.

• Johansson is second in the GNAC with 18.6 points per game while Simpson-Patu continues to impress in her inaugural season, ranking seventh in the league with 14.2 points per game. Johansson is third in the league shooting .542 from the floor.

• The Saints will take a week off before traveling to Seattle Pacific on Saturday, December 9.

 SEATTLE PACIFIC

• A tough shooting night gave No. 21 Seattle Pacific its first loss of the season last Thursday in a 59-57 affair at Concordia.

• Despite senior center Julia Haining’s 14 points and a career-high 17 rebounds, the Falcons connected on just 20 of 65 from the floor (30.8 percent), including 2 of 21 (9.5 percent) from behind the three-point line.

• Seattle Pacific rebounded from the initial loss, however, scoring an 87-52 win over Western Oregon on Saturday.

• Senior guard Jordan McPhee poured in 20 points, senior guard Lindsay Lee added a career-high 17 and senior guard Courtney Hollander logged her third double-double of the season as Seattle Pacific maintained the lead the entire contest.

• Hollander finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Her previous two double-doubles this season were 11 and 11 against Humboldt State, 10 and 10 against Fresno Pacific. She now has 17 career double-doubles. Senior guard Rachel Shim tied her career-high with five assists.

• Seattle Pacific is ranked No. 21 in the WBCA Division II Poll and No. 4 in the D2SIDA West Region Media Poll.

• The Falcons have played stifling defense this season, ranking second in the GNAC allowing 58.6 points per game. SPU is also third in the league with 10.1 assists.

• McPhee has been the go-to scorer for the Falcons, averaging 16.6 points per game. Haining and Hollander have been beasts on the boards this season, as they are number two and three in the GNAC with 9.1 and 8.4 rebounds per game, respectively.

• The Falcons return to action this Saturday at 2 p.m. where they will host Saint Martin’s in both teams’ third GNAC contest of the season.

SIMON FRASER

• Staying close for three quarters in both GNAC games last week, Simon Fraser was unable to keep pace with its conference foes, falling twice to start the GNAC season.

• Leading by one point after three quarters, Western Washington out-scored the Clan 25-12 in the fourth quarter to pull away for a 74-60 victory on Tuesday.

• Junior center Tayla Jackson led four SFU players in double-figures with 15 points while freshman guard Kendal Sands recorded 14 points on 4 of 5 shooting, including 2 for 2 behind the arc.

• On Saturday, Simon Fraser fell in their second GNAC contest 70-61 to undefeated Montana State Billings.

• The Yellowjackets led wire-to-wire but never pulled away from the Clan, who got within 49-47 with a late push in the third quarter. Jackson led Simon Fraser with 18 points, while sophomore guard Tia Tsang pumped in 12 points and sophomore guard Nicole Vander Helm had 10. Montana State Billings limited Simon Fraser, which was the second-best team in the GNAC in 3-point field goal percentage entering the day, to just 21.7 percent from the beyond the arc (5 for 23).

• The Clan remains in the D2SIDA West Region Poll tied at No. 10 with Hawaii Pacific.

• Simon Fraser is third in the GNAC and is ranked 39th in Division II shooting .363 from beyond the arc. The Clan has taken care of the ball pretty well this season, boasting a +4.75 turnover margin, which is good for second in the league.

• Sophomore guard Tayler Drynan is fourth in the GNAC with 4.5 assists per game. Junior forward Sophie Swant has been nearly perfect from the charity stripe with a .957 percentage (22-23). Freshman guard Jessica Jones has connected on 16 three-pointers this season.

• The Clan will play in the Viking Holiday Hoop Classic next week. Their next home game is on Dec. 29 against Alaska Anchorage in GNAC action.

WESTERN OREGON

• One of four remaining undefeated GNAC teams entering last week, Western Oregon earned a two-game split and are 5-1 this season.

• Overcoming a slow start where the Wolves missed its first nine shots, Western Oregon stormed back from a double-digit deficit to defeat Saint Martin’s 72-66 on Thursday night.

• Senior guard Shelby Snook led WOU with 18 points on 5 of 11 shooting while freshman guard Keyonna Jones registered 17 points, six rebounds and four assists.

• Jumping out to a 15-0 lead, No. 21 Seattle Pacific salvaged a weekend split to defeat Western Oregon 87-52 on Saturday afternoon.

• The Falcons shot 48.3 percent from the floor and got to the line on 26 occasions, converting 21 attempts for 80.8 percent. The Wolves, meanwhile, made their way to line lines just four times.

• Senior guard Sydney Azorr and senior forward Savannah Heugly tied for the team-high of 10 points.

• Western Oregon remains in the D2SIDA Division II mix, this time receiving the most votes (six) outside the top-10.

• Through five games, five different Wolves are averaging at least 10 points per game. Snook leads the Wolves with 12.7 points per game and is followed by Jones with 11.3 points per game.

• Western Oregon boasts the best free throw percentage in the GNAC (.787) and has pulled down the most defensive rebounds (188). Snook is sixth in the league with a .875 free throw percentage.

• Western Oregon will play a pair of road games next week with matches at Oregon Tech and Southern Oregon on Dec. 11 and 12.

WESTERN WASHINGTON

• Western Washington opened up the GNAC season 1-1 after a 74-60 home win against Simon Fraser on Tuesday and a 75-62 road loss to Montana State Billings on Thursday.

• Through a dominant fourth quarter, the Vikings had all five starters score in double figures to come away with their first GNAC win this season against the Clan.

• Freshman guard Gracie Castaneda scored a career-high 18 points on 50 percent shooting while sophomore center Anna Schwecke recorded her first career double-double with a career-high 17 rebounds and 11 points, adding two blocked shots and two steals. Schwecke is tied for fifth in the league with eight rebounds per game.

• In their Thursday game against MSUB, the Yellowjackets put together a 24-5 run in the third and fourth quarters to pull ahead of Western Washington for a comfortable win.

• Senior forward Hannah Stipanovich and Castaneda led the Vikings with 15 points each. Stipanovich also tied for the team-high with eight rebounds and was 5 for 6 from the free throw line. Stipanovich is fifth in the GNAC with 15.6 points per game.

• Tuesday’s win over SFU was No. 997 all-time in program history, picking up their third straight GNAC opener. The Vikings are second among teams receiving votes in the D2SIDA West Region Poll with five.

• Western Washington is second in the GNAC shooting .364 from downtown. The Vikings have been monsters on the boards this year, outrebounding teams by a +10.4 margin. Sophomore guard Lexie Bland is fifth among GNAC players with a .889 (16-18) free throw percentage.

The Vikings return to action next weekend hosting the Viking Holiday Hoops Classic. Western Washington will host No. 4 West Texas A&M and Texas A&M International in the two-day tournament.

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