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It's Make Or Break For Some Teams At The GNAC Midpoint
At 3-5 in conference play, a pair of wins against Central Washington and Northwest Nazarene this week could put Simon Fraser back into the mix for top-six contention.
At 3-5 in conference play, a pair of wins against Central Washington and Northwest Nazarene this week could put Simon Fraser back into the mix for top-six contention.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

SEAWOLVES, FALCONS PRIMED FOR ACTION: With the first half of GNAC action coming to a close, Seattle Pacific will host Alaska Anchorage on Saturday in a battle of the league’s top teams.

The Seawolves are coming into the contest with five straight wins, most recently snapping Concordia’s five-game win streak last week at the Alaska Airlines Center, 76-68. Seattle Pacific, meanwhile, is in the midst of its own win streak, winners of its last three contests. Be ready for a defensive struggle, as the two teams lead the GNAC in scoring defense. Seattle Pacific tops the chart allowing 60.4 points per game while Alaska Anchorage allows 60.7 points per game.

Alaska Anchorage leads the GNAC in scoring offense (79.2), scoring margin (+18.6), assists (330), steals (225), assist/turnover ratio (1.3) and turnover margin (+7.06). Seattle Pacific has dominated the defensive boards this season and leads the GNAC with 28.1 per game and is scoring 71.8 points per game. Both teams have been ranked in the D2SIDA West Region Poll the past eight weeks and have been the only two GNAC schools ranked within the WBCA Division II Top-25 this season.

VIKINGS EARN 1,000TH WIN IN PROGRAM HISTORY: Before Western Washington’s 69-58 win over Saint Martin’s on Saturday, the Vikings had to wait 15 days to earn its 1,000th win in program history. Western Washington’s most recent win against SMU snapped its four-game losing skid, dating back to Dec. 29, 2017, when it came away with an 83-49 win against Alaska.

Western Washington is the 15th team in women’s college basketball history across all divisions to eclipse the mark. In their 47-year history, the Vikings are 1,000-351 (.740) with 34 seasons of 20 or more wins.

GNAC REPRESENTED WELL IN D2SIDA WEST REGION POLL: In the latest D2SIDA West Region Media Rankings, five GNAC teams have positioned themselves in the weekly poll. Alaska Anchorage remains at No. 1 for the ninth consecutive week while Seattle Pacific improves one spot to No. 4. Northwest Nazarene, Concordia and Montana State Billings sit in the six, seven and eight spots.

GNAC CHAMPIONSHIPS TICKETS ON SALE: Tickets are on sale for the 2018 GNAC Basketball Championships, which take place Mar. 1-3 at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. Tournament passes for all three days are available for $30 for adults, $18 for students, seniors and youth, while single game tickets are available for $15 for adults, $9 for students, seniors and youth. Tickets can be purchased online at gnachooptickets.com.

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.

Viking Holiday Hoops Classic (Dec. 18-19, Bellingham, Wash.): Anna Schwecke, WWU, Hannah Stipanovich, WWU, Sophie Swant, SFU.

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

Breen posted a double-double in both games for the Yellowjackets last week, averaging 18 points and 15.5 rebounds per game in the contests. In Thursday’s loss to Northwest Nazarene, Breen finished with 16 points and 18 rebounds, connecting on 6 of 8 from the free throw line. She then finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds in Saturday’s 86-84 win over Central Washington, which included a 10 of 11 performance from the free throw line. The foul shooting performance moved Breen into No. 2 on the GNAC all-time list for free throws made while also moving up to No. 10 on the GNAC all-time scoring list.

Also Nominated: Bailey Cartwright (Concordia), Saniah Simpson-Patu (Saint Martin’s), Jordan McPhee (Seattle Pacific), Savannah Heugly (Western Oregon), Dani Iwami (Western Washington).

AROUND THE GNAC
ALASKA
• Alaska continues to search for its first conference win of the season after dropping a 74-47 decision to Concordia on Thursday before falling to Western Oregon, 74-54, on Sunday.

• Junior guard Emily Evans led the Nanooks averaging 12.5 points per game over the two contests while sophomore guard Lexi Carpenter totaled 24 points over the week. Junior center Josie Sewell grabbed 5.5 rebounds per game and recorded two steals against Concordia.

• Evans scored 11 of her points in a reserve role against the Cavs before tallying 14 points against Western Oregon in her first start of the season. Evans is eighth in the GNAC at 38.6 percent from three-point range and 12th in the league with 1.6 three-pointers per game.

• Carpenter continues to lead the team and is eighth in the GNAC with 13.9 points per game. Her three-point shooting has made her one of the league’s premier scoring threats as she is fifth in the GNAC with 2.1 three-point field goals per game. Junior forward Ashlie Blackburn is seventh in the GNAC with 5.2 defensive rebounds per game and leads the team with 6.7 rebounds per game.

• The Nanooks continue to get things done on the defensive boards with 27.3 per game, ranking second in the GNAC. They are fifth in the GNAC in scoring defense, allowing 65.8 points per game.

• Alaska travels to Washington to take on Seattle Pacific on Thursday and Saint Martin’s on Saturday.

ALASKA ANCHORAGE
• Alaska Anchorage extended its win streak to five games after earning an 85-53 win over Western Oregon on Thursday and snapping Concordia’s five-game win streak on Saturday, 76-68.

• The Seawolves’ offense was paced by junior forward Hannah Wandersee’s 14.5 points per game over the two contests. Junior guard Kian McNair provided solid starting minutes as well, averaging 11.5 points while senior guard Kaitlyn Hurley supplied 10.5 points per game.

• Wandersee tallied a team-high 17 points on 50 percent shooting (7-14) and corralled eight rebounds against the Cavs. Freshman guard/forward Sala Langi accounted for 10 points off the bench. Wandersee is seventh in the GNAC with 13.9 points per game and is second on UAA with 6.4 rebounds per game.

• Despite the absence of senior forward Shelby Cloninger for both games, Alaska managed to force 42 turnovers last week. On Thursday, the Seawolves converted 24 Wolves’ turnovers into 36 points. Junior guard Tara Thompson and sophomore guard Yazmeen Goo each recorded a game-high four steals. McNair added 15 points.

• The Seawolves have three of the top-four steal leaders in the GNAC. McNair leads the league and is 30th in Division II with 2.8 steals per game while senior guard Rodericka Ware and Goo each have 2.4 steals per game.

• Alaska Anchorage leads the GNAC in scoring offense (79.2), is second in scoring defense (60.7) and leads the league in scoring margin (+18.6), assists (330), steals (225), assist/turnover ratio (1.3) and turnover margin (+7.06).

• The Seawolves remain No. 1 in the D2SIDA West Region Poll and are No. 4 and No. 5 in the WBCA Division II and D2SIDA National Rankings.

• Alaska Anchorage takes the road to face Saint Martin’s on Thursday before a heavyweight matchup with second-place Seattle Pacific on Saturday.

CENTRAL WASHINGTON
• Central Washington split its road trip last week with a 79-73 win at Northwest Nazarene before losing a tough decision to Montana State Billings on Saturday, 86-84.

• Senior guard Jasmin Edwards and junior guard Sadie Mensing led the Wildcats in scoring with 13.5 points per game each over the two games.

• Edwards poured in a game-high 19 points on 5 of 11 shooting to hand the Nighthawks their second conference loss of the season. Sophomore guard Alexis Pana provided reinforcement off the bench with 13 points on 50 percent shooting. Edwards is ninth in the GNAC with 13.5 points per game and is tied for third with 4.3 assists per game.

• The Wildcats outmatched the Nighthawks from beyond the arc, outscoring NNU 21-12 from deep.

• Mensing did most of her scoring against the Yellowjackets with a team-high 20 points on 7 of 12 shooting. Senior forward Taylor Baird and senior guard Beverly Verduin were the other Wildcats’ starters to post double-figure scoring, notching 12 points each. Mensing continues to be Central Washington’s secondary scorer with 13 points per game this season.

• Central Washington is averaging 70.9 points per game and leads the GNAC with 3.8 blocked shots per game. Sophomore forward Kaelie Flores is third in the GNAC with 1.3 blocked shots per game.

• The Wildcats return home to take on Simon Fraser on Thursday and Western Washington this Saturday.

CONCORDIA
• Concordia earned a 74-47 win against Alaska on Thursday before seeing its five-game win streak snapped with a 76-68 loss to Alaska Anchorage on Saturday.

• Junior forward Bailey Cartwright continues to be a scoring and rebounding machine as she recorded 18 points and 11 rebounds in both contests. She led the Cavaliers in scoring and rebounding for both games and increased her double-double tally to 10 this season. She is tied for 10th in the GNAC with 13.3 points per game and is 21st in Division II with 10.6 rebounds per game.

• Senior guard Danielle Hartzog continued her fine shooting form averaging 14 points over the two contests. She supplied 15 points on 50 percent shooting (6-12) and three steals against the Seawolves. Hartzog is second in the GNAC with 16.1 points per game.

• Junior guard Keesha Sarman continues to display her exquisite passing ability after averaging 5.5 assists over the two contests, six of which came against Alaska Anchorage. The junior also averaged 6.5 rebounds per game, eight of which came on the offensive glass. Sarman leads the league and is 16th in Division II with 5.7 assists per game.

• Concordia fell for its second straight defeat on Tuesday at Western Oregon, 68-51. Cartwright and Hartzog each totaled 12 points while Sarman pulled down 11 rebounds.

• In the latest D2SIDA West Region rankings, Concordia is among five GNAC teams ranked within the top-10 at No. 7 for the second week in a row.

• Concordia is fourth in the GNAC with 71.6 points per game and has limited opponents to a GNAC-best 36.7 percent from the field.

• The Cavaliers finish out the week at home with a game against Montana State Billings on Saturday.

MONTANA STATE BILLINGS
• The Yellowjackets dropped its second home contest of the season with a 66-52 loss to Northwest Nazarene on Thursday, but earned a narrow 86-84 win against Central Washington two days later.

• Senior forward Alisha Breen continued her standout season with a pair of double-doubles and the GNAC Women’s Basketball Player of the Week award. She finished with 16 points and a career-high 18 rebounds on Thursday against Northwest Nazarene and then scored 20 points to go along with 13 rebounds against Central Washington on Saturday. Breen averaged 18 points and 15.5 rebounds per game and moved up to No. 2 on the GNAC all-time list for free throws made and No. 10 on the scoring list.

• On Saturday, senior guard Rylee Kane contributed 17 points and nine assists while freshman guard Hannah Collins went 3 for 3 from beyond the arc for a total of 15 points off the bench.

• Kane continues to lead the team and is second in the GNAC with 5.4 assists per game. She averaged 16 points per game over the two contests. Feeling it from downtown against CWU, Collins had converted only seven three-pointers on the season prior to the game.

• Taking care of the ball and finding the open player have been two aspects that MSUB has excelled at this season. The Yellowjackets are second in the league with 15.8 assists per game and have a 1.2 assist/turnover ratio.

• Montana State Billings is among five GNAC teams included in this week’s D2SIDA West Region Poll at No. 8. The ‘Jackets have scored 70.8 points per game this season while allowing 67.1 points per game.

• The Yellowjackets travel to Oregon for a contest at Western Oregon on Thursday before facing Concordia on Saturday.

NORTHWEST NAZARENE
• Northwest Nazarene saw its four-game win streak end with a 79-73 loss to Central Washington on Tuesday. The Nighthawks rebounded, however, salvaging a 1-1 week with a 66-52 win at Montana State Billings on Thursday.

• Junior guard McKenna Walker and senior guard Lexi Tubbs led the Nighthawks with 15.5 points per game over the two contests. Tubbs totaled a game-high 18 points against the Yellowjackets while Walker and sophomore guard Marina Valles combined for 32 points against the Wildcats.

• Both Walker and Tubbs are tied for 14th in the GNAC with 12.9 points per game. Walker has shot well this season, pacing the NNU offense with a .492 field goal percentage. She has been one of the league’s premier deep threats with a .462 three-point percentage. Tubbs is fourth in the conference with 2.2 three-pointers made per game.

• Junior forward Danielle Jardine continued her solid season with 28 points and 15 rebounds in the two games. Against MSUB, she provided 16 points off the bench and was a rebound shy of a double-double. The junior leads the GNAC with a 56.5 field goal percentage and is 10th in the league with 2.5 offensive rebounds per game.

• The Nighthawks boast the second-highest scoring offense in the GNAC with 78.9 points per game. A big factor to Northwest Nazarene’s offensive output has been its .441 field goal percentage, good for second in the league.

• Ranked No. 6, Northwest Nazarene is one of five GNAC teams ranked in the top-10 of the D2SIDA West Region Poll.

• Northwest Nazarene hosts Western Washington this Thursday and Simon Fraser on Saturday. A pair of NNU wins coupled with a Seattle Pacific loss this week would give the Nighthawks sole possession of second place.

SAINT MARTIN’S
• Saint Martin’s suffered its seventh straight defeat after taking a 71-52 loss to Simon Fraser on Thursday before falling to Western Washington 69-58 on Saturday.

• Freshman guard Saniah Simpson-Patu led the Saints with 18 points per game over the two contests while senior forward Elin Johansson provided 22 points last week.

• Simpson-Patu totaled a team-high 21 points against Simon Fraser. Sophomore guard/forward Mercedes Victor averaged 5.5 rebounds per game over the two games, pulling down seven rebounds against the Clan. Simpson-Patu is second on the Saints and fifth in the GNAC with 14.2 points per game. She is also among the leaders in rebounds with 7.3 per game.

• Senior forward Elin Johansson could not find any rhythm against the Vikings as she was limited to just seven field goal attempts. Western Washington was able to seal the game at the free throw line, outscoring the Saints from the charity stripe 24-13. Johansson is third in the GNAC with 15.6 points per game and is second in the league shooting 51.4 percent from the floor.

• Saint Martin’s is averaging 64.5 points per game and is limiting opponents to 28.5 percent shooting from beyond the arc. The Saints also rank sixth in the GNAC with 26.4 defensive rebounds per contest.

• The Saints look to end Alaska Anchorage’s five-game win streak on Thursday before closing the first half of GNAC play against the Nanooks on Saturday.

SEATTLE PACIFIC
• Seattle Pacific improved its win streak to three games after a 75-63 win at Western Washington on Thursday and a 74-63 victory against Simon Fraser on Saturday.

• Senior forward Courtney Hollander paced the Falcons’ offense with 15.5 points per game over the two contests. She was assisted by senior guard Jordan McPhee, who averaged 14 points during the pair of games.

• Hollander led Seattle Pacific with 20 points against the Vikings. The Falcons caused havoc that night, forcing 21 WWU turnovers for 30 points. Hollander went 7 of 12 from the field and converted all but one of her six free throws. She is fifth in the GNAC with 7.5 rebounds per game and is shooting 83.7 percent from the charity stripe.

• A 26-point effort by McPhee on Saturday lifted SPU to its sixth GNAC win of the season against the Clan. Like Thursday, the Falcons outscored the hosts by a large margin in the points off turnovers department, 30-12. Shooting 6 of 10 from the field, McPhee did most of her work at the free throw line, converting 13 on 14 attempts. She continues to lead the Falcons and is fourth in the GNAC with 15.1 points per game and is among the league’s steals leaders with 2.5 per game.

• Not to be outdone, senior forward Julia Haining averaged 8.5 rebounds over the two contests, pulling down a game-high nine boards at Simon Fraser. The senior is third in the GNAC with 8.3 rebounds per game.

• Seattle Pacific has dominated the defensive glass this season and leads the GNAC with 28.1 per game. The Falcons lead the GNAC allowing just 60.4 points per game while scoring 71.8 points per contest.

• Seattle Pacific is among five GNAC teams included in this week’s D2SIDA West Region Poll at No. 4.

• Seattle Pacific closes out the first half of conference action hosting Alaska on Thursday before taking on Alaska Anchorage on Saturday.

• In the 2016-17 campaign, the Falcons were swept in the regular-season series by both teams.

SIMON FRASER
• The Clan earned a split last week, taking a 71-52 win over Saint Martin’s on Thursday before falling 74-63 to Seattle Pacific two days later.

• Sophomore guard Nicole VanderHelm averaged a team-high 17 points per game over the two contests while pulling down 13 rebounds. In the Clan’s win over SMU, VanderHelm exploded for a game-high 23 points along with eight rebounds.

• Simon Fraser drained six more 3-pointers than the Saints and outscored SMU 21-12 from the free throw line. Junior forward Sophie Swant was the only other SFU player to score in double figures with 12 points on 50 percent (3-6) shooting. Swant went a perfect 7 of 7 from the charity stripe this week, making her second in the GNAC and 13th in Division II with a 91.4 free throw percentage.

• In the loss to Seattle Pacific, junior center Tayla Jackson was one of three Clan players to tally double-figure scoring with 14 points. In contrast to Thursday’s game, Simon Fraser was outscored from the free throw line 26-12. Both teams shot 40 percent from the field.

• VanderHelm is 12th in the GNAC with 13.1 points per game while Jackson is averaging 11.8 per game.

• Simon Fraser is averaging 70.3 points per game and is second in the GNAC shooting 79 percent (245-311) from the free throw line. The Clan has put up the second-most 3-pointers in the league (134) and have connected on almost 34 percent of their attempts.

• The Clan begins a three-game road trip this week with visits to Central Washington on Thursday and Northwest Nazarene on Saturday.

WESTERN OREGON
• After taking an 85-53 loss to Alaska Anchorage on Thursday, Western Oregon bounced back to earn a 74-54 win over Alaska on Saturday.

• Senior forward Savannah Heugly collected 17 points and 9.5 rebounds per game over the two contests. Against the Nanooks, she totaled a team-high 20 points on 7 for 10 shooting while going a perfect 6 of 6 from the free throw line. Heugly leads the Wolves and is 15th in the GNAC with six rebounds per game.

• Senior guard Shelby Snook tallied all 18 of her points against Alaska. She appeared in 29 minutes off the bench for a 5 of 12 shooting afternoon. Snook also collected six assists against the Seawolves, improving her to 13th in the GNAC with 2.7 assists per game.

• Western Oregon extended its win streak to two games on Tuesday, handing Concordia its second straight defeat with a 68-51 win in Monmouth. The Wolves limited the Cavs to 14 percent (2-14) from three-point range and outscored Concordia 36-22 in the paint. Heugly and senior guard Sydney Azorr each posted 15 points.

• After going a perfect 9 for 9 from the free throw line last night, Azorr leads the GNAC and is 11th in Division II with a 91.7 free throw percentage.

• The Wolves have won three of their last four games and defeated Concordia for the first time since the 2015-16 season.

• Western Oregon leads the GNAC and is 18th in Division II with a 79.2 free throw percentage (221-279).

• The Wolves finish the week hosting Montana State Billings on Thursday.

WESTERN WASHINGTON
• Western Washington earned a split last week with a 75-63 loss to Seattle Pacific on Thursday before a 69-58 win over Saint Martin’s on Saturday.

• Sophomore guard Dani Iwami led all WWU scorers with 17 points per game over the two contests. Iwami recorded a career-high 21 points against the Falcons, 18 of which came from behind the three-point line.

• Freshman guard Gracie Castaneda had a breakout week scoring 15 points per game and recording eight assists in the two games. She totaled 18 points against Saint Martin’s after dropping 12 against the Falcons off the bench. She is second on the team with 11.3 points per game and is 12th in the GNAC with 2.7 assists per game.

• Western Washington sophomore forward Anna Schwecke and senior forward Hannah Stipanovich continued to dominate the glass with 7.5 and 5.5 rebounds per game last week, respectively. Stipanovich pulled down eight boards against the Saints while Schwecke corralled nine against Seattle Pacific. The duo are among the top-10 rebounders in the GNAC. Schwecke is averaging 8.3 while Stipanovich has 6.8 rebounds per game.

• The win against Saint Martin’s gave the Vikings their 1,000th all-time win in program history. Western Washington is the 15th team in women’s college basketball history across all divisions to eclipse the mark. In their 47-year history, the Vikings are 1,000-351 (.740) with 34 seasons of 20 or more wins.

• As a team, Western Washington is No. 4 in the GNAC shooting 40.5 percent from the field. The Vikings are also second in the league shooting 36.2 percent (94-260) from downtown and have limited opponents to 64 points per game.  

• The Vikings end the first half of league play with the start of a four-game road trip. Western Washington visits Northwest Nazarene on Thursday before taking on Central Washington on Saturday.

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