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Alaska Wins 3 in Utah, Selected Red Lion Team of the Week
Stephanie Toumson and Alaska are 5-0 this year, winning by an average of 19.4 points per game.
Stephanie Toumson and Alaska are 5-0 this year, winning by an average of 19.4 points per game.

Monday, November 24, 2014

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Alaska women’s basketball team has started the 2014-15 season 5-0 after three victories in Utah last week, earning it the GNAC Red Lion Team of the Week award.

This is the Nanooks first 5-0 start in GNAC history. The five wins this season is already more, or equal to what the Nanooks had in four of their past six seasons.

“The commitment level by our team, from the freshman to the seniors, and our system understanding has improved,” head coach Cody Bench said. “We’re trying to get better every day.”

The Nanooks won their first games away from Fairbanks last week, taking part in the Dixie Thanksgiving Classic.

Challenging host Dixie State, the Nanooks jumped out to a 59-45 halftime lead and outscored the Red Storm by eight in the second half for the 94-72 victory. UAF had four players score in double-digits and 11 players score overall led by sophomore Jordan Wilson’s 28 points and nine rebounds.

“We have several people that can put points on the board, which helps our offense tremendously,” Bench said.

Alaska took on Cal State Marcos on Friday. Trailing by as much as 13 in the second half, the Nanooks rallied and pulled even with the Wildcats with six minutes to go after junior Stephanie Toumson’s three-point play.

UAF lost the lead with less than four minutes on the clock, but Benissa Bulaya’s layup with 37 seconds left knotted the game at 78. Bulaya’s layup with 12 seconds to go proved to be the game winner as the Nanooks pulled out an 80-78 win.

“Defensive stops,” Bench said of the key to Friday’s win. “We had several possessions in a row that we made defensive stops and countered with baskets of our own. It goes along with our commitment and will to always compete.”

Alaska had six players score in the first half of Saturday’s game against Chico State where it led 43-28 at the break. Chico State eventually pulled the game within three points, but clutch free throws and layups down the stretch clinched the Nanook victory.

”It was a matter of confidence at the end,” Bench said. “Several people stepped up and maintained composure. They were able to handle the run changes and pulled the game out.”

Kaillee Skjold collected a team, and career high 14 rebounds in the 81-77 win while adding nine points. Arinesha Smith and Wilson combined for 25 points while Bulaya led all Nanooks with 18.

Five different players scored in double-digits at least once in the three Utah wins. Bulaya was seelcted as a GNAC honorable mention Player of the Week after she scored 51 points by shooting 62.5 percent from the field while recording 12 rebounds and 17 assists.

In the five wins, UAF has scored at least 94 points three times while winning by an average of 19.4 points each contest. The Nanooks have eight 90+ point games in their GNAC history and three have occurred this year.

“It was nice to see our ability to handle challenges on the road, especially because we haven’t traditionally been a strong road team,” Bench said.

Alaska will host the Mt. McKinley Bank North Star Invitational Thursday through Saturday, playing games against Saginaw Valley State, Augusta and Colorado Christian respectively before starting GNAC play on Dec. 4. 

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