Vikings Open GNAC Play With Decisive Victories
Taylor Peacocke helped lead Western Washington to home wins over Alaska and Alaska Anchorage. Peacocke scored 16 points in both games.
Taylor Peacocke helped lead Western Washington to home wins over Alaska and Alaska Anchorage. Peacocke scored 16 points in both games.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

CONFERENCE OPENER: After a disappointing start in non-conference play, Western Washington opened the GNAC season with two home victories. The Vikings hosted two of the hottest teams coming into conference play in Alaska and Alaska Anchorage, and sent both home with defeats.

The Vikings faced Alaska in the season opener, defeating the Nanooks 90-59. Kayla Bernsen led the Vikings with a double-double, finishing with game-highs of 19 points and 11 rebounds. Kiana Gandy added 17 points and Taylor Peacocke had 16 points and eight rebounds. Western Washington outscored Alaska in every quarter, ending the fourth quarter with a 29-17 advantage.

Western Washington followed their big win over Alaska by handing Alaska Anchorage its first loss of the season. Bernsen again led the team with 19 points, pulling down seven rebounds. Tia Briggs had a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds and Peacocke added 16 points with a game-high six assists.

After being ranked No. 4 in the West Region Preseason Poll, the Vikings fell out of the rankings after slipping to a 1-3 start. With four straight victories, including a win over No. 2 Alaska Anchorage, the Vikings jumped back up to No. 7 in the region.

OTHER 2-0 STARTS: Montana State Billings and Seattle Pacific each won both of their games to start GNAC play. Both teams entered the week with 2-3 records in non-conference, but each grabbed two wins at home.

The Yellowjackets had two 10-point victories, defeating Central Washington 61-51 on Thursday and Northwest Nazarene 78-68 on Saturday. Against the Wildcats, Montana State Billings forced 20 turnovers, while turning the ball over just eight times themselves. Alisha Breen led the team with 17 points. Breen leads the GNAC and is ranked 19th in Division II with 19.9 points per game.

In a higher scoring affair against Northwest Nazarene, Breen helped lead the Yellowjackets with her third 20 plus point scoring performance, putting up 25 on 8 of 15 shooting. Janiel Olson added 14 points and a game-high eight rebounds.

Seattle Pacific hosted the Oregon schools, defeating Western Oregon 79-58 on Thursday and Concordia 55-46 on Thursday. The Falcons spread the wealth, with seven players scoring seven or more points against Western Oregon. Stacey Lukasiewicz had a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds and Jordan McPhee led the team with 15 points.

Two nights later, the Falcons held Concordia to 29 percent shooting from the field and 1 of 17 from behind the arc. Courtney Hollander and McPhee each had a double-double. Hollander led the team with 20 points and 10 rebounds and McPhee had 11 points and 12 boards.

RECORD PERFORMANCE: Saint Martin’s guard Krista Stabler put herself in the SMU and GNAC record books with 38 points on Saturday against Western Oregon. The Saints needed every point from the senior, winning narrowly 75-71 over the Wolves.

Stabler shot 12 of 21 from the field, 5 of 7 from long range and 9 of 9 from the charity stripe in a game-high 38 minutes. Her performance was the highest point total in the GNAC this season and tied her for fourth in Saint Martin’s history and fifth in GNAC history.

SEAWOLVES FALL BUT REMAIN HIGHLY RANKED: Despite its first official loss of the season to Western Washington, Alaska Anchorage remains one of the top teams in the nation.

The Seawolves dropped to No. 6 in both the USA Today Coaches Poll and the D2SIDA Media Poll, but remain the top ranked team in the West Region. Alaska Anchorage fell on the road to Western Washington in a game that saw preseason all-conference selections Megan Mullings and Jenna Buchanan foul out. After holding a first half lead, the Seawolves were outscored 24-10 in the third quarter.

Alaska Anchorage leads the nation in various categories this season. They are ranked first in assists (277), rebounds (578), scoring margin (34.2), steals (183), and three-pointers made (119).

Kiki Robertson is sixth in the nation in steals (26) and third in assists (72). Mullings leads the nation in field goals made (81) and Buchanan leads Division II in three-point attempts (92) and three-pointers made (44).

NON-CONFERENCE RESUMES: After a week of GNAC play, the non-conference schedule picks up again with the holiday break approaching. Six teams will be in action on Saturday, with Alaska Anchorage hosting Alaska in the lone conference game of the week. The remainder of GNAC teams will be at home with Western Oregon hosting Cal Baptist, Central Washington welcoming Northwest (Wash.), Montana State Billings playing Montana Western and Saint Martin’s hosting Quest.

The conference season resumes on New Year’s Eve, with 10 of 11 teams back in action. Games include Seattle Pacific at Central Washington, Western Washington at Concordia, Simon Fraser at Western Oregon, Montana State Billings at Alaska Anchorage and Saint Martin’s at Northwest Nazarene. Conference play will continue through the rest of the season, leading up to the GNAC Championships beginning March 3 in Lacey, Wash.

PRESEASON POLLS: Alaska Anchorage, the preseason favorites to win the GNAC for a second straight season, is living up to the expectations with a 12-1 start.

After being picked to place second in the coaches poll, Western Washington rebounded from a 1-3 start to win four straight games, now sitting at 5-3 and on top of the GNAC. The Vikings played in two competitive tournaments in California to start the season, facing top teams from the PacWest and California Collegiate Athletic Conference. 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 then defeated both 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 then responded with two wins at home to open conference play, defeating Western Oregon and Concordia.

TOP PERFORMANCES: Breen totaled 42 points in two games last week for MSUB. She played 79 of 80 minutes, shooting 6 of 9 from behind the arc and 8 of 10 from the charity stripe… Northwest Nazarene’s Ellie Logan scored 34 points with five steals, three rebounds, two blocks and one assist in two games. She had a game-high 23 points against Central Washington on Tuesday… Bernsen had back-to-back 19 point performances for Western Washington with one double-double in two victories…Simon Fraser’s Rachel Fradgley had two double-doubles, averaging 14 points and 13.5 rebounds in the two contests. She also had six blocks against Alaska Anchorage on Thursday… Concordia’s Sierra Dean scored 32 points off the bench in two contests last week. She had a game-high 17 points in the team’s win over Saint Martin’s.


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

Yellowjacket GNAC/PacWest Challenge: Alisha Breen, MSUB; Rachel Fradgley, SFU.

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


Krista Stabler, Saint Martin's
G • 5-6 • Senior • Silverdale, Wash.

Stabler finished with 52 points in two games. She scored 38 points in the Saints’ victory on Saturday over Western Oregon, which ties her for the fifth best single game performance in GNAC history. She shot 57.1 percent from the field and 71.4 percent from three-point range in the win while also going 9 for 9 from the free throw line. Also nominated: Kayla Bernsen (Western Washington), Alisha Breen (Montana State Billings), Sierra Dean (Concordia), Rachel Fradgley (Simon Fraser), Courtney Hollander (Seattle Pacific), Ellie Logan (Northwest Nazarene).