Parity In The GNAC Leaves Wide Open Race
Ellie Logan led Northwest Nazarene to two wins, including an upset victory over Seattle Pacific.
Ellie Logan led Northwest Nazarene to two wins, including an upset victory over Seattle Pacific.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

ALONE AT THE TOP: Western Washington used a come-from-behind victory at Western Oregon on Saturday night in the first game of 2016 to remain unbeaten in GNAC play. They also defeated Concordia on the road on New Year’s Eve. The Vikings are 4-0 in conference heading into the week and 8-4 overall.

The Vikings also remain the only team in the nation to defeat Alaska Anchorage, taking out the Seawolves in the first week of GNAC competition in early December. Despite a slow start in non-conference play, they have won seven of their last eight and are ranked No. 6 in the D2SIDA West Region Rankings.

The Vikings defeated Concordia 63-43 behind Taylor Peacocke’s 18 points, six assists and five rebounds. Aleisha Hathaway and Kiana Gandy each reached double digit points with 12 and 11 points respectively. They shot 48 percent from the field while holding the Cavaliers to just 25.8 percent.

Against Western Oregon, the Vikings trailed by double digit points after each of the first three quarters, unable to find a rhythm for the first thirty minutes. Led by Tia Briggs 21 points, the Vikings outscored the Wolves 26-13 in the final quarter to grab the narrow 61-59 victory.

FIRST TWO IN THE BOOKS: Northwest Nazarene won its first two GNAC contests of the season, defeating Saint Martin’s 86-58 on New Year’s Eve and upsetting Seattle Pacific 66-65 on Saturday. The wins bumped the Crusaders’ win streak to three games after not playing for over two weeks.

Ellie Logan was named the GNAC Women’s Basketball Player of the Week after leading her team to two wins. Against Saint Martin’s, she scored 12 points with a team high eight rebounds. CoCo Gall led the Crusaders with 16 points against SMU. Logan followed up with her best performance of the week against Seattle Pacific, leading the team with 19 points while finishing 9 of 9 from the free throw line. Logan was clutch from the charity stripe, sinking the game winning free throws with 12 seconds left.

After starting the season on the road for the first seven games, the Crusaders had just one win to show for it. They returned home just before the break, picking up a win over College of Idaho. They remain undefeated at home with a 3-0 record. They travel to Western Washington and Simon Fraser this week.

PARITY IN THE GNAC: With just one undefeated team and one winless team, the GNAC standings are jumbled up where any team can beat anyone on a given night. Alaska Anchorage, Seattle Pacific and Montana State Billings are each 3-1, while Central Washington have slipped to a 1-3 start after a 7-1 record in non-conference play. Western Oregon and Northwest Nazarene each picked up their first GNAC wins this past week.

Big matchups continue this week as teams look to continue hot streaks or regroup after the break. Western Washington hosts Northwest Nazarene and rivals Central Washington and Seattle Pacific will be at Saint Martin’s and Montana State Billings. The Falcons and Saints kick the week off tonight at 7 p.m.

IN THE RANKINGS: Despite suffering its first loss of the season, Alaska Anchorage remains atop the D2SIDA West Region Poll, receiving all six first place votes. The Seawolves dropped to No. 5 in the D2SIDA National Poll, but jumped to No. 2 in the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association/USA Today National Poll.

This season, the Seawolves lead the nation in multiple statistics including assists (356), rebounds (737), scoring margin (30.6) and steals (226).

Western Washington remains steady at No. 6 in the West Region for the third straight week. Seattle Pacific dropped two spots to No. 10 and Central Washington fell out of the top-10, but received votes.

PRESEASON POLLS: Alaska Anchorage, the preseason favorites to win the GNAC for a second straight season, is living up to the expectations with a 13-1 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. They are now 7-4 overall and 3-1 in GNAC play.

GNAC BASKETBALL GAMES TO AIR ON ROOT SPORTS, AMERICAN SPORTS NETWORK: Great Northwest Athletic Conference men’s and women’s basketball returns to ROOT SPORTS during the 2015-16 season, with a five-game telecast schedule set to open up Jan. 9 in a contest featuring defending regular season men’s conference champion Western Oregon playing host to Saint Martin’s. The women’s schedule opens on Wed., Jan. 13, with Western Washington at Saint Martin’s.

In addition to the ROOT SPORTS schedule, the championship doubleheader of the GNAC’s postseason tournament on Sat., Mar. 5, will be carried live throughout the country as part of the Division II Basketball National Showcase on the American Sports Network. The men’s game tips off at 5:30 p.m. PST and will be followed by the women’s title game at 7:30 p.m. PST.

In all, the GNAC will be featured either regionally or nationally three times in January, twice in February and twice in March. The 2015-16 campaign marks the seventh consecutive season in which the GNAC will have a presence on ROOT SPORTS, the premier regional sports network in the Pacific Northwest, and the third consecutive year in which the conference has featured a “Game of the Week” series on the network.

“The GNAC is extremely pleased to continue our Game of the Week series on ROOT SPORTS,” said conference commissioner Dave Haglund. “This has been a successful and long-standing association and helps expose our great brand of basketball to fans in our conference footprint and beyond. And we are looking forward to featuring our conference tournament championship games on the DII basketball showcase and reaching an even wider audience for the GNAC.”

GNAC Women’s Basketball Games On ROOT SPORTS

Wed., Jan. 13: Western Washington at Saint Martin’s, 8 p.m. (Pacific)

Thurs., Feb. 11: Western Oregon at Montana State Billings, 6 p.m. (Pacific)

TOP PERFORMANCES: Simon Fraser guard Ellen Kett averaged 17.5 points, 6.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds in two games against Western Oregon and Concordia. She finished 14 of 19 from the field… Megan Mullings scored 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds in Alaska Anchorage’s 70-50 win over Montana State Billings… Montana State Billings’ forward Alisha Breen scored 20 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in the team’s victory over Alaska… Emily Howey finished 6 of 9 from the field with 14 points in Western Oregon’s 58-57 win over Simon Fraser..


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.

Sodexo Tip-Off Classic: Hannah Rodrigues, SPU; McKenna Daly, Concordia.

Seawolf Hoops Classic: Christina Davis (MVP), UAA; Megan Mullings, UAA.

South Point Holiday Hoops Classic: Monica Grimsrud, MSUB; Taylor Peacocke, WWU; Aleisha Hathaway, WWU.