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Showdown In Burnaby Highlights Final Conference Matchups
With WWU and SFU fighting for the final spot in the 2018 GNAC Women's Basketball Championships, Tuesday's matchup can be pivotal as the GNAC sees its regular season end this weekend.
With WWU and SFU fighting for the final spot in the 2018 GNAC Women's Basketball Championships, Tuesday's matchup can be pivotal as the GNAC sees its regular season end this weekend.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

FIVE DOWN, ONE TO GO:  Sitting in sixth place at 8-10, Western Washington controls its destiny to the 2018 GNAC Basketball Championships. With two games to go in the regular season, the Vikings are jostling for position with Simon Fraser, Concordia and Western Oregon for the No. 6 seed. All three teams are all 7-11.

A big showdown happens tonight as Western Washington can distance itself from the field with a win at Simon Fraser. A Clan win, however, will make the race more interesting as the final games of the regular season will decide who makes the tournament.

Regardless of who wins tonight’s contest, the Vikings will have the advantage over Simon Fraser heading into Saturday. Since Simon Fraser hosts Montana State Billings on Thursday, the Vikings will know exactly what they have to do in order to secure a playoff berth. Don’t count out Concordia and Western Oregon though, as each team travels to Washington this week to take on third-place Seattle Pacific and Saint Martin’s. The sixth and final seed will come down to the wire and may need to be determined via tiebreaker when all things are said and done.

GNAC CHAMPIONSHIPS’ FINALS COMING TO ESPN3: For the second time in three years, the finals of the GNAC Basketball Championships on Saturday, March 3, have been selected to be streamed on ESPN3 as part of NCAA Division II Basketball Showcase. The men’s final will air at 5:15 p.m. (Alaska time) with the women following at 7:30 p.m. This year’s tournament is being held at the Alaska Airlines Center on the campus of the University of Alaska Anchorage.

This is also the second set of games this season in which Division II Basketball Showcase has featured the GNAC. A doubleheader at Central Washington featuring the Seattle Pacific women and Western Washington aired on February 1. The quarterfinal and semifinal rounds of the GNAC Championships, on Thursday, March 1 and Friday, March 2, will be streamed on the conference’s web stream portal, GNAC.tv, with Rob Lowery and Keaton Homer. The Saturday finals will be streamed exclusively on ESPN3.

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.

THIS WEEK'S GNAC PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Alisha Breen, Montana State Billings
F • 5-10 • Senior • Choteau, Mont.
Breen helped the Yellowjackets clinch a spot in the GNAC Championships, averaging 28 points against Concordia and Western Oregon. She fell just short of a triple-double against Concordia on Thursday as she finished with 25 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, shooting 7 of 13 from the field, 4 of 9 from three-point range and 7 for 7 from the free throw line, in the 77-57 victory. Against Western Oregon on Saturday, Breen notched her 14th double-double of the season with 31 points and 11 rebounds. For the week, Breen shot 51.5 percent from the field, 47.1 percent from three-point range and went 14 of 16 from the free throw line.

Also Nominated: Hannah Wandersee (Alaska Anchorage), Taylor Baird (Central Washington), Danielle Hartzog (Concordia), Tayler Drynan (Simon Fraser), Shelby Snook (Western Oregon), Tanner Omlid (Western Oregon), Hannah Stipanovich (Western Washington).

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.

AROUND THE GNAC
ALASKA
• Alaska continues to search for its first conference win of the season after dropping a 70-59 contest to Saint Martin’s on Thursday and a 66-47 game to Seattle Pacific on Saturday.

• Freshman guard Kylie Wallace led the Nanooks in scoring with 15.5 points per game over the two contests. She led the team in scoring in both games, tallying a game-high 17 points on Thursday before ending with 14 points on Saturday. She is fourth on Alaska with 6.8 points per game.

• Sophomore guard Lexi Carpenter continued her productive scoring season by tallying 13 points and four rebounds per game last week. Carpenter netted 15 points against the Saints before posting 11 points on Saturday. She is 11th in the GNAC with 12.9 points per game and is sixth in the league with 1.8 three-point makes per game.

• Alaska was outmatched in bench points, 56-23, and was outscored at the free throw line, 39-15.

• The Nanooks continue to get things done on the defensive boards with 26.5 per game, ranking third in the GNAC. They are sixth in the GNAC in scoring defense allowing 67.1 points per game.

• Alaska looks for its first GNAC win in its final two games of the season. The Nanooks visit Central Washington on Thursday before the season finale on Saturday against Northwest Nazarene.

ALASKA ANCHORAGE
• Alaska Anchorage extended its win streak to eight games with a pair of home wins last week. The Seawolves earned a 73-49 win over Seattle Pacific on Thursday before defeating Saint Martin’s on Saturday, 95-60.

• The Seawolves continued its stingy defense, forcing 47 turnovers for 52 points over the two contests.

• Junior forward Hannah Wandersee exploded for 33 points and 14 rebounds last week. Her most notable performance came on Saturday where she posted 21 points on 9 of 12 shooting. Wandersee improves to fifth in the GNAC with 14.5 points per game and leads the league with 1.5 blocks per game.

• Senior guard Kian McNair managed 13.5 points per game over the two games. She supplied a game-high 16 points against the Falcons.

• Senior guard Rodericka Ware had herself a solid scoring week with 20 points in the two contests. She pumped in 15 points on Saturday while recording three assists and two steals.

• The Seawolves have the top two steal leaders in the GNAC. Sophomore guard Yazmeen Goo leads the league and is 12th in Division II with 3.16 steals per game. McNair is second in the GNAC and 31st in the nation with 2.81 steals per game. The duo combined for 15 steals last week, 10 of which came against the Saints.

• Alaska Anchorage leads the GNAC in scoring margin (+16.1), assists (19.62), steals (14.46), turnover margin (+7.46), and assist/turnover ratio (1.26).

• The Seawolves were ranked No. 2 in the first NCAA Division II West Region Rankings. They are also the consensus No. 4 in the D2SIDA and WBCA Division II national polls.

• Alaska Anchorage ends the regular-season on the road against Northwest Nazarene on Thursday before taking on Central Washington on Saturday. Both teams have clinched berths to the GNAC Championships.

CENTRAL WASHINGTON
• Central Washington was swept last week, falling 67-59 to Western Washington on Thursday before taking an 85-73 loss to Simon Fraser on Saturday.

• Senior forward Taylor Baird led the team in scoring with 14.5 points per game over the two contests. Baird tallied a team-high 20 points against Simon Fraser and was one of three Wildcats to score in double figures.

• Senior guard Jasmin Edwards continues to share the ball at an effective rate with six assists last week. She remains No. 3 on the GNAC all-time assists leaderboard with 539. She is also third in the GNAC with 4.58 assists per game and is fifth in GNAC history with 5.09 assists per game.

• Averaging 10 points per game over the two contests, junior guard Sadie Mensing pumped in 14 points on Saturday on 5 of 10 shooting. She is tied for first on the Wildcats and tied for 15th in the GNAC with 12 points per game.

• The Wildcats were unable to stop a streaky Vikings team on Thursday as WWU shot almost 47 percent from the field and 80 percent (4-5) from beyond the arc. In Saturday’s contest, the game was won from the charity stripe as Simon Fraser outscored CWU from the free throw line by 10 points (20-10).

• Central Washington is averaging 70.7 points per game and leads the GNAC with 4.1 blocked shots per game.

• The Wildcats finish the regular season hosting Alaska on Thursday and Alaska Anchorage on Saturday.

CONCORDIA
• Concordia’s postseason hopes took a hit last week after being swept. The Cavs fell to Western Oregon on Thursday, 65-62, before taking a 77-57 loss to Montana State Billings on Saturday.

• Senior guard Danielle Hartzog led the Cavs with 15.5 points per game last week. She recorded a team-high of 18 points on Thursday before leading Concordia with 13 points against the Yellowjackets. Hartzog is second in the GNAC with 15.4 points per game.

• Junior forward Bailey Cartwright recorded her 16th double-double of the season with 15 points and 16 rebounds against the Wolves. Cartwright followed up that performance with six rebounds against MSUB. She is ninth in the GNAC with 13.7 points per game and leads the GNAC with 10.8 rebounds per game (13th in Division II).

• Junior guard Keesha Sarman recorded 10 rebounds and 11 assists in the two games to go along with nine points. She ranks first in the GNAC and is 23rd in Division II with 5.2 assists per game.

• Concordia outscored its opponents by a combined 44-30 off the bench.

• Concordia is averaging 66.8 points per game and is shooting 38.4 percent from the field. The Cavs are also allowing just 65.3 points per game, ranking fourth in the GNAC.

• The Cavaliers play their final regular season games of the season against Saint Martin’s on Thursday and Seattle Pacific on Saturday. Concordia will battle it out with Western Washington (8-10), Simon Fraser (7-11) and Western Oregon (7-11) for the final spot in the GNAC Championships.

MONTANA STATE BILLINGS
• Montana State Billings earned a split last week, taking a 77-57 win over Concordia on Thursday before falling to Western Oregon on Saturday, 77-65.

• Senior forward Alisha Breen helped the Yellowjackets clinch a spot in the GNAC Championships after averaging 28 points over the two contests. She fell just short of a triple-double against Concordia on Thursday as she finished with 25 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, shooting 7 of 13 from the field, 4 of 9 from three-point range and 7 for 7 from the free throw line, in the 77-57 victory. Against Western Oregon on Saturday, Breen notched her 14th double-double of the season with 31 points and 11 rebounds. She leads the GNAC and is 12th in Division II with 20.5 points per game.

• Junior forward Vanessa Stavish supplied 23 points last week, 14 of which came on 5 of 11 shooting from the field against Concordia. She also picked up 11 rebounds over the two contests.

• To go along with her 12 assists and seven steals last week, senior guard Rylee Kane totaled 12.5 points per game. She collected 13 points, four rebounds, six assists and six rebounds in 30 minutes against the Cavaliers. She is 14th in the GNAC with 12.3 points per game and is 30th in Division II with five assists per game. Kane is now No. 5 in GNAC history with 512 assists.

• Montana State Billings is among five GNAC teams included in the latest NCAA DII West Region Rankings at No. 7. The ‘Jackets have scored 69.9 points per game this season while allowing 66.5 points per game.

• The Yellowjackets finish the regular season on the road, taking on Simon Fraser on Thursday and Western Washington on Saturday.

NORTHWEST NAZARENE
• Northwest Nazarene extended its win streak to 11 games after defeating Simon Fraser on Thursday, 76-67, and taking down Western Washington in overtime on Saturday night, 78-76.

• Senior guard Lexi Tubbs had another huge scoring week, totaling 35 points over the two contests. She was one of four Nighthawks to tally double-figure point totals with 21 points on 7 of 16 shooting against the Clan. Tubbs followed that up with an even more efficient night on Saturday, shooting 50 percent from the field (4-8) and going a perfect 4 for 4 from the charity stripe on Saturday. The senior is third in the GNAC with 15.3 points and 2.39 three-pointers made per game.

• Junior forward Danielle Jardine provided 11 points per game over the two contests, 12 of which came off the bench against Simon Fraser. Jardine has been an efficient scorer this season as she leads the GNAC with a .613 field goal percentage. She is also 13th in the league with 2.1 offensive rebounds per game.

• Northwest Nazarene is one of five teams to have already clinched a spot in the 2018 GNAC Women’s Basketball Championships. With a week remaining, the Nighthawks are still in contention to claim their first-ever GNAC regular-season title.

• The Nighthawks boast the highest scoring offense in the GNAC with 79.3 points per game. A big factor to Northwest Nazarene’s offensive output has been its league-leading .444 field goal percentage and .363 three-point percentage.

• Entering the week, the Nighthawks are No. 5 in the NCAA Division II West Region Rankings. They also received votes (1) in the D2SIDA national poll.

• In what could be a possible preview for the 2018 GNAC championship, Northwest Nazarene hosts No. 4 Alaska Anchorage on Thursday before closing the regular season against Alaska.

SAINT MARTIN’S
• Saint Martin’s earned a split last week, taking a 70-59 win over Saint Martin’s on Thursday before falling to Alaska Anchorage 90-65 on Saturday.

• Playing her best basketball of the season, sophomore guard Makenna Schultz carried the bulk of SMU’s offensive efforts as she led the team with 17.5 points per game over the two contests. She contributed 16 points off the bench against the Nanooks before recording 19 points in the loss to Alaska Anchorage. Schultz improves to 13th in the GNAC with 12.8 points per game.

• Sophomore guard Mercedes Victor pumped in team-high 20 points on 6 of 13 shooting against the Seawolves. Victor also went 8 for 10 from the charity stripe and is averaging 8.5 points per game this season.

• Freshman guard Saniah Simpson-Patu had a tough time collecting buckets as she was limited to just 10 points per game. Simpson-Patu is second on the team and sixth in the GNAC averaging 14.4 points per game. Rebounding has also been a strength this season as she leads all GNAC freshmen with 6.3 boards per game.

• Saint Martin’s is averaging 64.4 points per game and is limiting opponents to 31.1 percent shooting from beyond the arc. 

• Saint Martin’s looks to play spoiler this week as it takes on a pair of schools in contention for the sixth seed. It hosts Concordia on Thursday and Western Oregon on Saturday.

SEATTLE PACIFIC
• Seattle Pacific split its contests last week, taking a 63-47 loss at Alaska Anchorage on Thursday before beating Alaska on Saturday, 66-47.

• Freshman guard Hailee Bennett led Seattle Pacific in scoring with 19 points over the two games. She tallied a team-high 13 points off the bench against the Nanooks on 50 percent (4-8) shooting.

• The Falcons had a tough time offensively against the Seawolves as no player reached double-digit scoring figures. Junior guard Riley Evans led the team with eight points off the bench.

• Seattle Pacific’s leading scorer, junior forward Jordan McPhee, was kept relatively quiet throughout the week. She was limited to a combined 17 points over the two contests on 6 of 22 shooting from the field. She remains seventh in the GNAC with 14.4 points per game and is fourth in the league with 2.16 steals per game.

• The Falcons’ defense clamped down Saturday night, limiting UAF to 35.4 percent shooting from the floor. Of Seattle Pacific’s 66 points, 32 came off the bench. The Falcons also outmatched the Nanooks in the paint, 41-33.

• The Falcons lead the GNAC allowing 60.5 points per game while scoring 71.5 points per contest. Seattle Pacific also ranks third in the league with 9.92 steals per game. The Falcons combined to force 35 turnovers last week.

• In the latest NCAA Division II West Region Rankings, Seattle Pacific is one of five GNAC included in the poll at No. 6.

• The Falcons conclude its regular season at home this week, hosting Western Oregon on Thursday before the season finale against Concordia on Saturday.

SIMON FRASER
• Simon Fraser secured a much-need split last week to stay in the GNAC postseason hunt. The Clan dropped a 76-67 decision to a red-hot Northwest Nazarene team on Thursday before earning an 85-73 win over Central Washington on Saturday.

• Junior forward Sophie Swant led the Clan in scoring with 14 points per game over the two contests. She led four Simon Fraser players in double-figures with 16 points against the Nighthawks and followed it up with 12 points on Saturday. Swant is eighth in the GNAC with 14.1 points per game and leads the league with a .912 free throw percentage. The junior went 5-5 from the charity stripe last week.

• Freshman guard Jessica Jones provided the secondary scoring option for the Clan with 27 points over the two contests. The freshman went 5 of 11 on Thursday for 15 points before dropping 12 on Saturday. Jones is fourth on the team with 9.7 points per game.

• Despite only scoring two points on Thursday, sophomore guard Tia Tsang erupted for a game-high 22 points against Central Washington as she went 6 of 7 from deep.

• Simon Fraser is averaging 69. 1 points per game and leads the GNAC shooting almost 81 percent from the free throw line. The Clan has also made the second-most three-pointers among GNAC teams and is fifth in the league shooting 32.8 percent from behind the arc.

• At 7-11, Simon Fraser is contending with Concordia, Western Oregon and Western Washington for the No. 6 seed heading into the GNAC Championships. The Clan host Western Washington in a big matchup on Tuesday before taking on Montana State Billings on Saturday.

WESTERN OREGON
• Western Oregon scored a much-needed sweep last week to keep its postseason hopes alive. The Wolves earned a big 65-62 win over Concordia on Tuesday and ended the weekend with a convincing 77-65 win over Montana State Billings on Saturday.

• Sophomore guard Shelby Snook had a week to remember as she averaged 22.5 points per game over the two contests. She posted 20 points against the Cavs before notching a team-high 25 points versus the Yellowjackets. Despite tallying just 11 field goals last week, Snook combined to go 17 of 18 from the free throw line.

• Senior guard Sydney Azorr collected 29 both over the two games, recording 18 in the win over the Yellowjackets. Like Snook, Azorr shot well from the free throw line going 15 for 17 last week. She is second in the GNAC shooting 89 percent from the free throw line and is second on the Wolves with 10.5 points per game.

• A poor night for Concordia at the free throw line helped the Wolves back into the playoff race. Making 24 trips to the free throw line, the Cavaliers were able to only convert 15 of their attempts.

• Western Oregon remains second in the league shooting almost 80 percent from the free throw line. The Wolves also lead the league with 27.5 defensive rebounds per game and are scoring 65.7 points per game.

• Hoping that things fall their way this week, the Wolves will play their final regular-season contests in Washington this week. They take on Seattle Pacific on Thursday before finishing at Saint Martin’s on Saturday.

WESTERN WASHINGTON
• Western Washington came one step closer to securing a spot in the GNAC Championships with a weekend split. The Vikings earned a 67-59 win over Central Washington on Thursday before falling to Northwest Nazarene in overtime on Saturday, 78-76.

• Senior forward Hannah Stipanovich turned in another big week for the Viks as she recorded 19.5 points and six rebounds over the two games. Stipanovich led the Vikings with 19 points on 50 percent shooting (7-14) on Thursday before dropping a game-high 20 points against Northwest Nazarene. She leads Western Washington and is 12th in the GNAC with 12.8 points per game and is sixth in the league with 6.9 rebounds per game.

• Sophmore forward/center Anna Schwecke produced 21 points over the two games last week, 13 of which came against NNU on 5 of 9 shooting from the floor. Schwecke is fifth in the GNAC with seven rebounds per game and is seventh in the league with 4.69 defensive boards per game.

• Western Washington continued its hot shooting, averaging almost 50 percent shooting in both games. The Vikings outmatched Central Washington in the paint, 42-26, but turned the ball over one too many times against NNU. Western Washington committed 31 turnovers in the game, leading to 35 Nighthawks’ points.

• At 8-10, Western Washington currently sits in front of Simon Fraser, Concordia and Western Oregon (all 7-11) for the sixth and final spot to the 2018 GNAC Championships. A sweep this week would guarantee WWU’s ticket to Anchorage in March.

• As a team, Western Washington is second in the GNAC with a .425 field goal percentage. It also is limiting opponents to a GNAC-best 37.5 percent shooting from the floor and is scoring 66.8 points per game.

The Vikings end the regular season with a must-win contest at Simon Fraser on Tuesday. Western Washington closes the week at home against Montana State Billings on Saturday.

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