Alaskan Teams Look To Continue Hot Starts Into GNAC Play
Alaska forward Jordan Wilson has led Alaska to a 5-3 start with 16.9 points per game.
Alaska forward Jordan Wilson has led Alaska to a 5-3 start with 16.9 points per game.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

CONFERENCE OPENER: Travel partners Central Washington and Northwest Nazarene faced off in the GNAC season opener on Tuesday night, with the host Wildcats taking the 78-72 victory.

The Wildcats had five players reach double-digit points, led by Mandy Steward’s 15 off the bench. Alexis Berrysmith put up a double-double with 11 rebounds and 10 points. Also in double-digit scoring was Jasmin Edwards and Jasmine Parker with 12 points each and Melanie Valdez with 11 points.

Northwest Nazarene’s Ellie Logan scored a game-high 23 points for the Crusaders, who fell just short of a comeback. The Crusaders shot 20-22 from the charity stripe, one of the top free-throw shooting performances of the young season.

ON THE DOCKET: The first full weekend of GNAC basketball approaches, with the conference season tipping off for nine teams on Thursday, Dec. 3. Reigning GNAC champions and undefeated Alaska Anchorage will start on the road at Simon Fraser and Western Washington. Seattle Pacific hosts Western Oregon and Concordia while Montana State Billings welcomes Central Washington and Northwest Nazarene.

Teams will play one week in GNAC play before returning to non-conference opponents for the following two weeks. The conference season picks up again on New Year’s Eve, continuing for the rest of the year to the postseason.

NANOOKS POWER INTO CONFERENCE PLAY: Alaska enjoyed one of the best non-conference seasons of any GNAC squad entering conference play with a 5-3 overall record. The Nanooks hosted the North Star Invitational, finishing 2-1 in the tournament with victories over Sonoma State and Wisconsin-Parkside.

Senior forward Stephanie Toumson was named the GNAC Women’s Basketball Player of the Week after posting three-straight double-doubles at the North Star Invitational. She averaged 16.7 points and 13 rebounds in the tournament. Toumson is ranked fourth in the GNAC in points per game (16.1) and second in rebounding (9.9).

Toumson’s teammate Jordan Wilson has also had an excellent start to the year, ranked third in the GNAC in points (16.9) and seventh in rebounds (7.3).

SEAWOLVES BATTLE DIVISION I OPPONENTS: Alaska Anchorage hosted its annual GCI Great Alaska Shootout on Nov. 24 and 25 against Division I competition. The Seawolves were victorious in their opening round bout, defeating Pepperdine 94-61. In the finals, the Seawolves lost a close game 62-58 to Western Kentucky, but officially remained undefeated as the game was a discretionary exhibition for UAA.

The Seawolves are the lone GNAC team to remain undefeated despite playing twice as many games as their conference rivals. Alaska Anchorage has dominated opponents so far, ranked second in Division II in scoring margin average (37.3). The Seawolves are also ranked fourth in Division II in scoring offense (91.6) and ninth in scoring defense (49.7).

The Seawolves moved up one spot to No. 2 in the Women’s Basketball Division II Media Poll, sponsored by D2SIDA. They received three first place votes and remain ranked No. 1 in the West Region. Alaska Anchorage is also ranked No. 3 in the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association/USA Today Division II Poll, receiving one first place vote.

CLAN REBOUND: After dropping its first three games of the season, Simon Fraser responded with back-to-back road victories over Cal Poly Pomona and Cal State Los Angeles. The Clan defeated Cal Poly Pomona 77-74 in a tight contest behind Meg Wilson’s 23 points. Ellen Kett also had a strong game with a double-double, scoring 10 points and dishing out 14 assists. The Clan had four scorers in double-digits, including Alisha Roberts’ 12 and Elisa Homer’s 11.

After picking up its first win over Cal Poly Pomona, Simon Fraser continued to roll with a 71-60 victory over Cal State Los Angeles. Homer led the way with 26 points, Roberts put up 18 and Kett scored 15 while grabbing a game-high eight rebounds.

The Clan took last week off from competition apart from an exhibition game against their alumni. Simon Fraser will be met with a tough challenge in its first conference game, hosting Alaska Anchorage on Thurs., Dec. 3.

YELLOWJACKETS FIND WINNING FORM: Montana State Billings won its final two games heading into GNAC play, defeating Chadron State 82-67 and Great Falls 49-43 in an exhibition game. The Yellowjackets finished November with a 2-3 record, but are coming off two confidence boosting victories.

The Yellowjackets’ forward Alisha Breen continues to put up gaudy numbers, with 22 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals in the victory over Chadron State. Breen leads the GNAC in scoring (19.4 ppg) and is seventh in rebounding (7.0 rpg). She was named the GNAC Player of the Week to open the season after putting up 37 points against Academy of Art.

PRESEASON POLLS: Alaska Anchorage, the preseason favorites to win the GNAC for a second straight season, is living up to the expectations with an 11-0 start, but the other top teams have run into some early season struggles.

After being picked to place second in the coaches poll, Western Washington rebounded from a 1-3 start and enter GNAC play at 3-3. The Vikings played in two competitive tournaments in California to start the season, facing top teams from the PacWest and California Collegiate Athletic Conference. Last week, the Vikings picked up two victories at the Oahu Thanksgiving Classic, defeating Chaminade 61-53 on Thanksgiving Day and Hawaii Pacific 64-62 on Friday. The Vikings host tough competition in Alaska and Alaska Anchorage to start the GNAC season.

Seattle Pacific was picked third in the preseason poll and has started the year similarly to the Vikings, joining them in California. After an excellent showing in week one with victories over Humboldt State and Fresno Pacific, the Falcons fell twice to UC San Diego and Azusa Pacific. Seattle Pacific enters conference play at 2-3. They host Western Oregon and Concordia to open their conference slate.

TOP PERFORMANCES: Alaska Anchorage senior guard Jenna Buchanan scored 34 total points for the Seawolves in two games at the GCI Great Alaskan Shootout. She finished 13 of 22 from the field and 8 of 14 from behind the arc. Buchanan scored her second-highest career total with 22 points in the opening round game against Pepperdine… Lexi Tubbs led Northwest Nazarene with 10 points in a road loss to Westminster… Saint Martin’s guard Krista Stabler scored 35 points in two games, putting up 27 against Colorado Springs.


The following GNAC players have been selected to all-tournament teams during the 2015-16 season:

Mt. McKinley Bank North Star Invitational: Stephanie Toumson, UAF; Jordan Wilson UAF.


Stephanie Toumson, Alaska

F • 6-1 • Senior • Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe

Toumson led the Nanooks to a runner-up finish at the McKinley Bank North Star Invitational. She averaged 16.7 points and 13 rebounds per game in the three games. Toumson scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in Alaska’s 88-77 victory over 2015 NCAA Tournament participant Wis.-Parkside and added a double-double of 18 points and 17 rebounds in the Nanook’s loss to Northwood. Also nominated: Alisha Breen (Montana State Billings), Jenna Buchanan (Alaska Anchorage), Krista Stabler (Saint Martin’s), Lexi Tubbs (Northwest Nazarene).