GNACSports.com
Division II West Regional Takes Center Stage In Azusa
Seattle Pacific opens the tournament against UC San Diego while MSUB takes on Hawaii Pacific shortly after. Northwest Nazarene and Alaska Anchorage feature in the third contest of the night.
Seattle Pacific opens the tournament against UC San Diego while MSUB takes on Hawaii Pacific shortly after. Northwest Nazarene and Alaska Anchorage feature in the third contest of the night.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

MONTANA STATE BILLINGS WINS GNAC CHAMPIONSHIP: If earning the GNAC Player of the Year honor wasn’t enough, Alisha Breen made sure that No. 4 seed Montana State Billings won its first-ever conference title as the Yellowjackets defeated No. 3 seed Seattle Pacific 71-61 to win the 2018 GNAC Women’s Basketball Championships at the Alaska Airlines Center.

Breen was named the tournament MVP after tallying a game-high 24 points and 10 rebounds for a three-day tournament total of 77 points. The Yellowjackets earn their first win over SPU this season and capture the GNAC’s automatic berth to the NCAA Division II West Regionals tournament. Seattle Pacific goes home with a 23-7 record and falls to MSUB for the first time in GNAC Championships history.

To go along with Breen’s 10th-straight 20-point game, Rylee Kane supplied 15 points while Hannah Collins chipped in 13. Kane recorded four assists for a Yellowjackets’ team that shot 46.2 percent from the field and ended the night with eight unanswered points.

Montana State Billings is now 1-1 in GNAC finals competition after suffering a 77-57 loss to Alaska Anchorage in 2016. Breen recorded 18 points in that contest.

GNAC QUARTET TO PLAY IN AZUSA: Four teams from the Great Northwest Athletic Conference were selected to the 2018 NCAA Division II West Regionals field during Sunday’s NCAA Selection Show. All four teams from the GNAC Championships’ semifinals were selected to advance to the NCAA postseason with Northwest Nazarene, Alaska Anchorage, Seattle Pacific and Montana State Billings earning berths.

Montana State Billings, the No. 7 seed, enters the tournament as the GNAC’s automatic qualifier following its first-ever GNAC Championships title Saturday night at the Alaska Airlines Center. Northwest Nazarene represents the highest GNAC seed at No. 4 while Alaska Anchorage earns the No. 5 seed.

Falling to MSUB in the GNAC Championships finals, Seattle Pacific enters the NCAA tournament for the 13th time in program history as the West Region’s No. 6 seed.

The opening round will commence this Friday at Azusa Pacific University’s Felix Event Center in Azusa, Calif. Seattle Pacific will face No. 3 seed UC San Diego at noon with Montana State Billings will take on No. 2 seed Hawaii Pacific at 2:30 p.m. Alaska Anchorage and Northwest Nazarene will square off against either other for the third time this season at 5 p.m.

Appearing in its fifth NCAA tournament in program history, Northwest Nazarene will take on GNAC rival Alaska Anchorage in the opening round. The No. 1 seed in the GNAC Championships, Northwest Nazarene saw its 13-game win streak snapped with a 76-69 semifinal loss to eventual tournament champ Montana State Billings. Co-regular season champions with the Seawolves at 18-2, the Nighthawks won their final 13 regular-season games to achieve the feat. Alaska Anchorage will make its sixth appearance in the tournament after winning four straight GNAC regular-season titles.

For a majority of the year, the Nighthawks relied heavily on their balanced scoring attack. Coupled with the scoring efficiency of senior guard Lexi Tubbs, Northwest Nazarene looked unbeatable late in the season. During the Nighthawks’ 13-game win streak, Tubbs led the GNAC with 19.6 points per game while shooting 49.4 percent from the floor. For the year, she is second in the GNAC with ­­15.8 points per game and is ninth in the league with 6.3 rebounds per game.

A pair of forwards pace the Alaska Anchorage offense. Junior Hannah Wandersee is fourth in the GNAC with 14.5 points per game while senior forward Shelby Cloninger has supplied 13 points per contest. Defense has been the Seawolves’ staple this season, forcing an unprecedented 632 turnovers with opponents averaging 21.8 turnovers per game.

Seattle Pacific opens the tournament against No. 3 seed UC San Diego. The Falcons led the GNAC in scoring defense, allowing just 61.3 points per game, and has limited opponents to 60 points or fewer 13 times this year. Junior guard Jordan McPhee is eighth in the GNAC with 13.9 points per game and is second on the team with a .436 field goal percentage.

Montana State Billings proved that anything is possible when you have the GNAC Player of the Year. Alisha Breen was named the GNAC Championships MVP after totaling a three-day tournament total of 77 points. She leads a Yellowjackets team that is appearing in their sixth NCAA West Regionals and will take on the reigning PacWest champions, No. 2 seed Hawaii Pacific.

The only quarterfinal contest that won’t feature a GNAC team is between No. 1 Azusa Pacific and No. 8 Humboldt State. The winner of that game will play the Northwest Nazarene/Alaska Anchorage winner in the semifinals. The semifinals are will take place on Saturday with the final to be played Monday at 7 p.m.

ABOUT THE GNAC'S WEST REGIONAL TEAMS
ALASKA ANCHORAGE
• Alaska Anchorage took a 74-65 loss to Seattle Pacific in the semifinal round of the GNAC Championships at the Alaska Airlines Center.

• Freshman forward Sala Langi paced the UAA offense with a career-high 14 points while senior guard Kaitlyn Hurley came off the bench for 12 points.

• Junior forward Hannah Wandersee was named a First Team All-GNAC selection after ranking fourth in the GNAC with 14.5 points per game while leading the league with 1.6 blocks a contest.

• Sophomore guard Yazmeen Goo provided eight points, three rebounds and three assists in the loss to SPU. She also received Honorable All-GNAC honors. She leads the GNAC and is 13th in Division II with 3.11 steals per game.

• Senior forward Shelby Cloninger was named Second Team All-GNAC team after finishing the regular season with 13 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.

• The Seawolves are the top GNAC team in a number of categories this season, leading the league in scoring margin (+13.7) assists (18.6 per game), steals (13.8 per game) turnover margin (+6.69) and assist/turnover ratio (1.2). Alaska Anchorage is also second in the GNAC in scoring at 76.9 points per game.

• The Seawolves are No. 13 in the WBCA Division II Coaches Poll and finish at No. 14 in the final D2SIDA national rankings.

• No. 5 in the West Region rankings, Alaska Anchorage will take on GNAC-rival No. 4 seed Northwest Nazarene in the first round of the NCAA Division II West Regional at 5 p.m. this Friday at Azusa Pacific University’s Felix Event Center in Azusa, Calif.

MONTANA STATE BILLINGS
• Earning its first-ever conference title in program history, No. 4 seed Montana State Billings defeated No. 3 seed Seattle Pacific 71-61 to win the 2018 GNAC Women’s Basketball Championships Saturday night at the Alaska Airlines Center.

• Senior forward Alisha Breen was named the tournament MVP after tallying a three-day tournament total of 77 points and 25 rebounds. The Yellowjackets earned their first win over SPU this season and captured the GNAC’s automatic berth (seeded No. 7) to the NCAA Division II West Regionals where they will play PacWest Champion No. 2 seed Hawaii Pacific this Friday in the opening round of the tournament.

• In MSUB’s previous matchup against Hawaii Pacific on Dec. 19, the Sharks came away with a 79-52 win at the Oahu Christmas Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii.

• The Yellowjackets opened the GNAC Championships with a narrow 75-73 win over No. 5 seed Central Washington on Thursday. Breen and senior guard Rylee Kane did the heavy lifting as the duo combined for 51 points.

• Montana State Billings then went on to defeat No. 1 seed Northwest Nazarene, 76-69, in Friday’s semifinals contest to snap the Nighthawks’ 13-game win streak. Breen also broke the GNAC single-season free throw record with her 191st make late in the fourth quarter.

• The three-point shot has been a mainstay in MSUB’s offense, leading the league in both three-point field goal attempts (716) and three-pointers made (227). Kane is second on the team with 13.4 points per game while Breen has recorded 16 double-doubles.

• To go along with their first-ever GNAC championship, the Yellowjackets were named this week’s Red Lion/GNAC Team of the Week. Breen was named the GNAC Player of the Year while Kane received Honorable Mention All-GNAC honors last week.

NORTHWEST NAZARENE
• Northwest Nazarene enters the NCAA Division II West Regional as the highest-seeded GNAC team at No. 4.

• The Nighthawks saw its 13-game win streak snapped after taking a 76-69 loss to Montana State Billings in the GNAC Championships semifinals.

• Junior forward Danielle Jardine led the Nighthawks with 17 points while junior guard McKenna Walker tallied 15 points in a starting role. Averaging 81.4 points per game during its 13-game win streak, NNU was plagued by 21 turnovers despite shooting 45.1 percent fromthe field.

• Last week, senior guard Lexi Tubbs was awarded First Team All-GNAC recognition for the first time in her career after ranking second in the GNAC with 16.2 points per game and is ninth in the league with 6.4 rebounds per game. She tallied seven points and four rebounds in the loss to MSUB.

• A Second Team All-GNAC selection, Jardine is second on the team with 11.4 points per game and leads the GNAC in field goal percentage at 59.6 percent. Coming off the bench in last week’s competition, Jardine totaled a team-high 17 points and seven rebounds against the Yellowjackets.

• Garnering Honorable Mention All-GNAC recognition, Walker pumped in 15 points on 5 of 10 shooting. She is third on the team with 11.2 points per game.

• Northwest Nazarene will take on No. 5 seed Alaska Anchorage in the opening round of the NCAA Division II West Regional. The teams split the season series this year with each squad winning its home contest.

• Northwest Nazarene boasts the highest scoring offense in the GNAC with 80.3 points per game. They lead the league shooting 44.8 percent from the floor.

SEATTLE PACIFIC
• Seattle Pacific ended the GNAC Championships 2-1 after falling to Montana State Billings in the finals, 71-61.

• Senior forward Courtney Hollander led the Falcons with 12.7 points per game over the three contests. She netted Second Team All-Conference honors last week after averaging 12.1 points and 6.5 rebounds per game this     season.

• Named the 2017-18 GNAC Defensive Player of the Year, junior Jordan McPhee averaged 9.3 points per game in the tournament. The junior paced a Falcons team that led the GNAC in scoring defense while limiting opponents to a 38.6 percent shooting from the field during the regular season. McPhee leads the Falcons and is fifth in the league with 14.4 points per game and is fourth in the GNAC with 2.04 steals per contest.

• Seattle Pacific’s third all-conference selection, senior guard Rachel Shim, totaled 28 points in the three contests. Shim is second on the team with 2.7 assists per game and is among GNAC leaders with a .389 three-point field goal percentage.

• Like it has been all season, the Seattle Pacific defense has clamped down on opponents. Seattle Pacific is allowing just 60.5 points per game and has limited opponents to 60 points or fewer on 13 occasions this year. Seattle Pacific also ranks third in the league with 9.9 steals per game. The Falcons combined to force 48 turnovers last week.

• The No. 6 seed heading into the NCAA Division II West Regional, Seattle Pacific will take on No. 3 seed UC San Diego this Friday at noon inside Azusa Pacific University’s Felix Event Center in Azusa, Calif.

Copyright ©2019 Great Northwest Athletic Conference. All Rights Reserved. GNACSports.com