GNACSports.com
Big Three Brewing In Ellensburg
Kizzah Maltezo (in white, with ball) is the conference's third-leading scorer at 18.1 points per game, and scored 25 points last time out against Cal State LA.
Kizzah Maltezo (in white, with ball) is the conference's third-leading scorer at 18.1 points per game, and scored 25 points last time out against Cal State LA.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

As a team, they rank fifth in scoring offense and eighth in scoring defense, but with three of the GNAC’s top four scorers and the nation’s top rebounder, individual brilliance has been a successful formula for Central Washington. The Wildcats carry a two-game winning streak into the resumption of play after the holiday break.

Central Washington has swept the last three GNAC Player of the Week awards. Samantha Bowman won her second straight from December 13-19 after scoring 23 points and tying a GNAC single-game record with 29 rebounds, which was also the most in any NCAA division so far this season. The next week, Kizzah Maltezo won the award after dropping 25 points in a win over Cal State LA. Not to be overlooked on her own team is senior forward Kassidy Malcolm, who averaged 21 points per game in those two wins.

Saint Martin’s had a 2-0 week, topping Pacific (Ore.) and Simpson (Calif.), winning the GNAC Team of the Week award from December 13-19. The Saints had a 24-point scorer in both games as freshman Rian Clear and junior Claire Dingus each took a turn carrying the offensive load.

Simon Fraser set a boatload of school records in a 111-45 drubbing of fellow Canadian school Capilano, including points, scoring margin, assists, three-pointers and steals. Claudia Hart starred with 21 points and nine rebounds, but the depth of display was even more impressive, as eight SFU players recorded multiple steals and seven hit multiple threes.

Western Washington now stands alone as the final undefeated team in the GNAC. The Vikings held serve, winning two games in California, including an 83-32 rout of Holy Names. Alaska Anchorage failed to do so the same, winning two games in Hawaii but stumbling on December 19 against Hawaii Hilo and losing to the Vulcans 76-73 in overtime.

The Seawolves, who were ranked No. 5 in the WBCA Coaches Poll and No. 1 in the D2SIDA Media Poll, fell to No. 11 and No. 8 after the loss. In addition, UAA ceded the No. 1 spot in the D2SIDA West Region rankings to the Vikings, who are now seventh and sixth in the two national polls.

Every team got a minimum of 10 days off over the Christmas break, but now the sprint through the GNAC season truly begins. Highlights from the upcoming slate of conference games include Alaska’s return to the court after a layoff of over a month against MSUB on Thursday, and an early GNAC test for Western Washington against hot-starting Saint Martin’s on New Year’s Day.

GNAC PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

December 13-19
Samantha Bowman
Central Washington
C • 6-3 • Jr. • Zillah, Wash.
Bowman had a record-setting night to lead the Wildcats in their 75-63 overtime win at Concordia Irvine on December 18. Bowman finished with a double-double of 23 points and 29 rebounds, connecting on 10 of 22 from the field. The 29 rebounds tied the GNAC single-game record set by Bria Thames of Saint Martin’s in 2020. It is the highest single-game total this season in all NCAA divisions and is tied for the 16th best single-game total in Division II history.

Also Nominated: Teagan Thurman (Northwest Nazarene), Claire Dingus (Saint Martin’s), Claudia Hart (Simon Fraser), Emma Duff (Western Washington).

December 20-26
Kizzah Maltezo
Central Washington
G • 5-5 • Sr. • Honokaa, Hawaii
Maltezo led all scorers with 25 points in CWU’s 70-62 win over Cal State LA on December 20. She shot 10 of 23 from the field, including three made three-pointers, and matched a season-high with four rebounds. Maltezo dished out two assists, came away with two steals, and only turned the ball over once in 36 minutes.

AROUND THE GNAC

ALASKA
• Alaska has not played since Nov. 27. They have had two games postponed in that span. The Nanooks were last on the court at home over Thanksgiving weekend. They lost 77-69 to No. 12/9 Tampa on Nov. 25, 76-61 to Northwood on Nov. 26 and 87-62 to Southern Nazarene on Nov. 27.
• The youth movement is in full effect up in Fairbanks, with a quartet of freshmen as massive contributors. Destiny Riemers led the way, scoring 21 points with eight rebounds on Thanksgiving against Tampa and 19 points and six boards against Northwood. Claudia Diez Marti scored a season-high 15 points against Northwood while playing all 40 minutes, making three three-pointers. Pearle Green chipped in 15 points against Tampa.
Paola Perez-Mendoza, yet another freshman, averaged 4.3 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 3.3 steals per game over the three Thanksgiving games. She leads the GNAC and ranks seventh in Division II with 3.4 steals per game. Perez-Mendoza recorded five steals against both Tampa and Northwood.
• Green and Reimers rank sixth and seventh in the GNAC with 15 and 14.6 points per game, respectively, and they are tied with one another for sixth in the GNAC with 1.8 steals per game. Green leads the conference and ranks eighth in Division II with 3.2 made three-pointers per game.
• Green also leads the conference with 36.3 minutes per game, while Diez Marti, Reimers and Perez-Mendoza also rank in the GNAC’s top 10 in minutes per game.
• Alaska ranks second in the GNAC in steals per game (10.0) and fourth in assists per game (15.6).
• Alaska will take the court for the first time in over a month on Thursday, battling MSUB in the first GNAC game for the Nanooks before Seattle Pacific visits Fairbanks on New Year’s Day.

ALASKA ANCHORAGE
• Alaska Anchorage went 2-0 at the Malika Sports Oahu Christmas Classic in Honolulu, topping Hawaii Pacific 70-55 on December 14 and Concord 69-41 on December 17, but the Seawolves suffered their first loss of the season at the hands of Hawaii Hilo, falling to the Vulcans 76-73 in overtime on December 19.
 • The loss to Hilo dropped UAA from No. 1 to No. 8 in the D2SIDA Media Poll and from No. 5 to No. 11 in the WBCA Coaches Poll. In the West Regional rankings, the Seawolves ceded the top spot to conference rival Western Washington and slotted in at No. 2.
Sala Langi was UAA’s leading offensive producer for the week, averaging 10.3 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. After scoring two points against Hawaii Pacific, Langi took charge against Concord, leading all scorers with 16 points on 4 of 8 shooting while making 8 out of 10 free throws. Against Hilo, Langi tallied 13 points, eight rebounds and three assists.
Tennae Voliva carried the Seawolves against Hawaii Pacific, tallying 16 points on 4 of 8 shooting and having an 8-for-9 night at the charity stripe. Voliva ranks seventh in the GNAC with an .821 free-throw percentage.
• Junior forward Kimani Fernandez, a Hawaii native, made the most of her homecoming. Fernandez scored a career-high 17 points in the loss to Hilo, making 8 of 10 from the field. Fernandez is averaging 6.3 points per game this season.
• The Seawolves will took to rebound from their first setback with two home GNAC games this week, hosting Seattle Pacific on Thursday and Montana State Billings on Saturday.

CENTRAL WASHINGTON
• Central Washington notched a pair of wins in Southern California, taking down Concordia Irvine in overtime 75-63 on December 18 before beating Cal State LA on December 20, 70-62.
Samantha Bowman continued to add to her early-season legend with a monster 23-point, 29-rebound double-double against Concordia Irvine. The 29 rebounds tied the GNAC single-game record set by Bria Thames of Saint Martin’s in 2020. It is the highest single-game total this season in all NCAA divisions and is tied for the 16th best single-game total in Division II history. Bowman won her second straight GNAC Player of the Week award from December 13-19, her third overall this season.
• Bowman leads Division II in rebounds per game (17.1) and is fourth in blocks per game (3.1). She has recorded a double-double in eight of the nine games she has played, including against Cal State LA, when she scored 12 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in just 28 minutes.
Kizzah Maltezo made it a Wildcat three-peat for GNAC Player of the Week, winning the December 20-26 honor after dropping 25 points against Cal State LA. Maltezo was 10 of 23 from the field and drained three three-pointers. Maltezo ranks 10th in Division II with 178 field goals attempted and has fired the fourth-most three-pointers (99) in the nation.
Kassidy Malcolm, the final member of the Wildcats’ Big Three, averaged 21 points per game over the two contests. She scored 20 against Concordia Irvine, going a perfect 4-for-4 from the line, before going off for 22 points and nine rebounds against Cal State LA, which included making 4 of 7 shots from behind the arc.
• The Wildcats dropped a slot to No. 10 in the D2SIDA West Region Rankings. They rank second in the conference in three-point percentage (.324) and free-throw percentage (.746).
• Central Washington will host Whitworth in its only game this week on Thursday.

MONTANA STATE BILLINGS
• Montana State Billings had a holiday excursion to Las Vegas and went 1-1, losing to West Texas A&M 59-46 on December 17 before beating Wisconsin Parkside the next day, 72-58.
• The usual suspects carried MSUB through the week, with Taryn Shelley averaging 16 points and nine rebounds over the two games. Shelley’s best performance came against West Texas A&M, when she had a 15-point, 12-rebound double-double, before scoring 17 points with six rebounds against Wisconsin Parkside. Shelley ranks 10th in the GNAC with 13.4 points per game and seventh with 7.1 rebounds per game.
Cariann Kunkel averaged 13 points and seven rebounds, including a 15-point, 11-rebound double-double of her own against Wisconsin Parkside. Kunkel also dished out four assists. She ranks sixth in the GNAC with a .538 field goal percentage and is averaging 11.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game this year.
• Guard Shayla Montague surged from outside against Wisconsin Parkside, making 6 of 10 three-point attempts in an 18-point, six rebound outing. Montague is making 1.6 three-pointers per game, sixth in the GNAC.
• The Yellowjackets lead the GNAC and rank 22nd in Division II with a 1.14 assist/turnover ratio. They rank fifth in Division II with 207 total assists.
• Montana State Billings received votes in the D2SIDA West Region poll for the fourth straight week.
• The Yellowjackets head to Alaska after the holiday break They will face Alaska on Thursday and No. 11/8 Alaska Anchorage on Saturday.

NORTHWEST NAZARENE
• Northwest Nazarene got a rivalry win against College of Idaho, 76-61 on December 14, before blowing out Lincoln (Calif.) 99-47 on December 17.
Teagan Thurman was the Nighthawks’ best player this week, averaging 19 points and 16 rebounds over the two games. She scored 17 points and 16 rebounds against C of I before recording 21 points with another 16 rebounds against Lincoln. She shot 54 percent from the field and 83 percent from the line for the week. Thurman ranks second in the GNAC with 9.5 rebounds per game and is averaging 11.7 points per game.
Nyalam Thabach averaged nine points and 8.5 rebounds, led by an 11-point, 10-rebound double-double against C of I. Thabach is sixth in the GNAC with 7.2 rebounds per game and seventh with a .528 field goal percentage.
• Guard Cami Knishka averaged eight assists, including a career-high 12 against Lincoln that is this year’s GNAC single-game high. Also setting a single-game mark for the conference against Lincoln was Ashlynn Sylve, who came away with six steals against the Oaklanders. Sylve ranks fourth in the conference with two steals per game and fifth with a .563 field goal percentage.
• Thurman (21 points), Kate Clark (13 points) and Analynn Bohner (10 points) all scored season-highs against Lincoln.
• Northwest Nazarene dropped a spot to No. 9 in the D2SIDA West Region rankings. They lead the conference by pulling down 42.5 rebounds per game.
• Northwest Nazarene does not play this week. They resume GNAC play by hosting the Alaska schools on January 6 and 8.

SAINT MARTIN’S
• Saint Martin’s ran their win streak to three with wins in back-to-back nights, defeating Pacific (Ore.) 71-49 on December 16 and Simpson (Calif.) on December 17.
• The Saints were recognized as the GNAC Team of the Week for their unblemished run that cemented an 8-2 start.
 • In an interesting quirk, the Saints had two wins in a 24-hour period and had a 24-point leading scorer in each game. Against Pacific, it was freshman Rian Clear, who topped 17 points for the third straight game in her breakout season. Clear also had eight rebounds, four assists and two blocks to help bury the Boxers, who were up a point at halftime but couldn’t stop the Saints’ surge in the second half.
• Against Simpson, it was Claire Dingus’ turn to lead the team with 24 points, while adding five assists, four rebounds and five steals. Dingus scored 15 points with seven rebounds against Pacific. She currently leads the conference in scoring with 18.5 points per game and ranks third with 2.1 steals per game.   
Tierney DeDonatis had a quiet scoring week, but maintained her season average of five assists per game this week, led by seven against Simpson. She leads the conference and ranks 23rd in Division II with her five assists per game. DeDonatis also had five steals against Simpson.
 • Center Emily Nelson averaged 11.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, paced by 15 points and seven rebounds against Simpson.
• Saint Martin’s leads the GNAC and is seventh in Division II with 17.4 assists per game. They rank third in conference with a .433 field goal percentage.
• The Saints held steady at No. 6 in the D2SIDA West Region rankings.
• Saint Martin’s heads north of the border to face Simon Fraser on Thursday before a New Year’s Day clash with No. 7/6 Western Washington.

SEATTLE PACIFIC
• Seattle Pacific won in its final tune-up before the holiday break, topping Puget Sound 76-66 on December 18.
Schuyler Berry and Natalie Hoff led the way for SPU with 12 points apiece. Berry shot 5-for-7 from the field and eclipsed her previous career-high of 11 points she had set one game prior. Hoff hit 6 of 13 from the floor and added four rebounds. She ranks 10th in the GNAC with a team-high 6.9 rebounds per game.
Ashley Alter wasn’t far behind with 11 points. The senior forward leads the team with 11.6 points per game.
• Senior point guard Abril Rexach Roure failed to score, but still made a definite impact on the game with seven rebounds, six assists and two steals. Rexach Roure leads the team with 32 assists and 17 steals on the year.
• Seattle Pacific ranks fourth in the conference in free-throw percentage (.688). They are led by Hoff, who leads the conference and ranks 20th in Division II individually at 90 percent.
• The Falcons have the third-best scoring defense in the GNAC, holding opponents to 59.6 points per game, but have been hurt to this point by scoring 59.3 points per game, last in the league.
• Seattle Pacific will see in the New Year up north, starting with No. 11/8 Alaska Anchorage on Thursday and Alaska on Saturday.

SIMON FRASER
• Simon Fraser romped to a 111-45 victory over Canadian school Capilano on December 17 in their only game of the week.
• The win set all-time school records for points in a game and margin of victory, while also establishing single-game bests in assists (31), three-pointers (21) and steals (19) in the program’s NCAA era (since 2010).
• In the absence of leading scorer Jessica Wisotzki, senior Claudia Hart stepped up to carry the offensive load with 21 points, nine rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Hart is averaging 9.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game, ranking second on the team in both categories.
• Hart had plenty of help offensively. Six Simon Fraser players scored in double figures – Hart, Gemma Cutler (19 points), Emma Kramer, Georgia Swant and Arman Dulai  (14 points apiece) and Makenna Gardner (11 points).
 • All eight players who played for SFU had multiple steals, led by Hart, Kramer and Swant with three apiece. Seven out of eight hit multiple three-pointers, led by Hart with five, Kramer with four, and Dulai and Gardner with three.
• Cutler was the only Simon Fraser player not to attempt a three-pointer, but still went 7-for-8 from the field. She leads the GNAC with a .627 field goal percentage (37-59).
• Simon Fraser is the second-highest scoring offense in the conference, averaging 72.2 points per game.
• Simon Fraser will stay in the comfort of British Columbia this week, hosting Saint Martin’s on Thursday and Western Oregon on Saturday.

WESTERN OREGON
• Western Oregon lost in an exhibition to Division I Seattle 61-38 on December 20. In their last official game, they brushed aside Corban with a 77-39 victory on December 11.
• Point guard Tresai McCarver had a big game against Seattle, recording a 13-point, 11-rebound double-double. McCarver shot 5-for-14 from the field. She is averaging 9.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game.
• Leading scorer Meadow Aragon was held to two points, but grabbed seven rebounds and blocked three shots.
• Against Corban, freshman guard Madisyn Clark had a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds along with four assists, all of which were career-highs. Clark was making her first career start. Aragon had a 17-point, 10-rebound double-double of her own. Aragon ranks third in the GNAC with 7.7 rebounds per game. She is second in the conference and 11th in Division II with 2.7 blocks per game, and is second in the GNAC with a .609 field goal percentage.
Cali McClave had a well-rounded stat line of eight points, five assists and three steals against Corban. The sophomore guard ranks ninth in the GNAC with 1.7 steals per game.
• Western Oregon is second in the conference in rebounding offense (42.5 per game) and field goal percentage (.438) while leading the GNAC in blocked shots (40, 5.7 per game).
• Western Oregon will travel north this week, facing No. 7/6 Western Washington on Thursday and Simon Fraser on New Year’s Day.

WESTERN WASHINGTON
• Western Washington played two of their three scheduled games this week and won both, topping Academy of Art 57-43 on December 14 before trouncing Holy Names 83-32 on December 17.
Emma Duff averaged 12.5 points per game to lead WWU. She had 13 points against Academy of Art and 12 against Holy Names. Duff is eighth in the GNAC with 14.6 points per game and fifth with 7.6 rebounds per game.
• Guard Avery Dykstra averaged 7.5 points and eight rebounds, highlighted by a near double-double of nine points and 12 rebounds against Academy of Art. The 12 rebounds were a season-high. Dykstra shot 53 percent from the field this week and ranks third in the GNAC with a .592 field goal percentage.
• Center Carley Zaragoza went a perfect 6-for-6 from the field and 1-for-1 from the line against Academy of Art to finish with 13 points while grabbing five rebounds. She had six rebounds against Holy Names. Zaragoza is averaging seven points and 2.8 rebounds per game this season.
• Guards Dani Iwami and Mollie Olson led a balanced attack against Holy Names with 14 points apiece. Iwami hit 4 of 6 three-point attempts and leads the conference in three-point percentage (.483).
• Western Washington leads the conference in most team categories. They are top-10 in Division II in field goal percentage (seventh at 47.5), scoring margin (fifth at +22.6), rebound margin (third at +12.3) and three-point defense (third at 19.7 percent).
• Western Washington rose to No. 6 in the D2SIDA Media Poll and No. 7 in the WBCA Coaches Poll. The Vikings also moved to No. 1 in the D2SIDA West Regional rankings.
• The Vikings will host Western Oregon on Thursday before welcoming hot-starting Saint Martin’s on Saturday.

Copyright ©2022 Great Northwest Athletic Conference. All Rights Reserved. GNACSports.com