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The Road To The GNAC Postseason Restarts This Thursday
Montana State Billings senior guard Rylee Kane leads the GNAC and is 15th in Division II with 5.8 assists per game. She looks to help snap the Yellowjackets' three-game losing skid.
Montana State Billings senior guard Rylee Kane leads the GNAC and is 15th in Division II with 5.8 assists per game. She looks to help snap the Yellowjackets' three-game losing skid.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. – With the holiday season behind us, the GNAC is ready to present its fans with a full conference slate of action-packed hoops in 2018.

But next year will have to wait just a little longer as a total of nine games are scheduled to take place between Thursday and Sunday with all 11 GNAC teams looking to build final momentum heading into the New Year.

Of the nine matchups, all but one will impact the conference standings when Concordia hosts Pacific (Ore.) in the final GNAC non-conference game of the season this Thursday. Prior to that tipoff, Montana State Billings looks to snap its three-game losing skid and continue its undefeated conference run against No. 25 Seattle Pacific.

Both Alaska teams head to the lower 48 to take on Simon Fraser and Western Washington over a three-day span. Alaska Anchorage takes on the Clan this Friday while the Vikings host the Nanooks. The matchups will then be flipped on Sunday, with both the Nanooks and Seawolves closing out their opening GNAC weekend road trips.

Saturday presents three more GNAC matchups taking place in Washington and Idaho. Concordia visits Central Washington while Western Oregon takes on Northwest Nazarene before Montana State Billings ends the day in Lacey against Saint Martin’s.

No. 6 Alaska Anchorage and Montana State Billings are the only teams to restart conference play with undefeated GNAC records. The Seawolves are coming off their first loss of the season, falling 68-58 at Sonoma State on Dec. 19. At 10-1, UAA leads the GNAC in scoring margin (+20.1), assists per game (21.2), steals per game (14.8), offensive rebounds (175) and turnover margin (+8.55).

At 2-0, the Yellowjackets were unable to find the win column in three attempts at the Oahu Christmas Classic. Entering the tournament, MSUB was off to its best start to the season at 9-0. Senior forward Alisha Breen leads the GNAC and is 18th in Division II with 20.8 points per game while senior guard Rylee Kane leads the GNAC and is 15th in Division II with 5.8 assists per game.

Coming off a 75-70 loss to Oklahoma Christian on Dec. 18, Seattle Pacific is one of three GNAC teams with a 2-1 conference record. Prior to its previous game, the Falcons were on a three-game unbeaten streak and were ranked as high as No. 13 in the WBCA Division II Poll and No. 11 in the D2SIDA Rankings.

Northwest Nazarene and Central Washington are the other two teams at 2-1 and are both coming off conference wins in their preceding contests. The Nighthawks lead the GNAC and are 18th in Division II scoring 82 points per game while Central Washington has won three of its last four decisions.

Western Washington (5-5, 1-1 GNAC) leads a quartet of teams with one conference win thus far as Concordia, Western Oregon and Saint Martin’s each have a 1-2 GNAC record. Despite all four teams losing in its previous contest, a win in each of their respective matchups may lead to better poll position heading into the New Year.

Rounding out the teams in action are Simon Fraser and Alaska. Yet to win in conference play, a 2-0 week by either team can put them back into the mix heading into the bulk of the conference calendar.

VIKING HOLIDAY HOOPS CLASSIC ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM: A trio of GNAC players were named to the All-Tournament Team at the Viking Holiday Hoops Classic held in Bellingham, Wash. Western Washington’s Anna Schwecke and Hannah Stipanovich were named to the team as was Simon Fraser’s Sophie Swant.

Schwecke and Stipanovich led the Vikings to a 1-1 record at their home tournament against a pair of Texas-based opponents. Schwecke led WWU with 14 points per game over the two contests, netting 16 in the Vikings 90-59 win over Texas A&M International on Dec. 18 to go along with 12 rebounds. Stipanovich also averaged double-figure scoring with 13 points per game.

Swant was the go-to scorer for the Clan during the classic, tallying 15.5 points per game. In Simon Fraser’s narrow 73-71 win over Texas A&M International on Dec. 19, Swant poured in a team-high 20 points while going 11-14 from the free throw line.

THIS WEEK’S GNAC PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Cassi Williams, Alaska
Guard • 5-10 • Senior • Klawock, Alaska

Williams set a UAF single-game record for three-pointers made as she led the Nanooks to a 90-42 rout of Multnomah on Saturday. She led all scorers with 29 points on 24 minutes off the bench, connecting on 10 of 14 from the field and 9 of 13 from the three-point arc. 

Also Nominated: Rylee Kane (Montana State Billings).

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