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Pearle Jam: Nanooks On The Board
Pearle Green, who averages 15 points per game, scored the two most significant points of UAF's season to give the Nanooks their first GNAC win, 60-58 over Montana State Billings.
Pearle Green, who averages 15 points per game, scored the two most significant points of UAF's season to give the Nanooks their first GNAC win, 60-58 over Montana State Billings.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

The Alaska Nanooks officially got the monkey off their backs on Saturday, as Pearle Green hit a game-winning layup with two seconds left to give UAF their first conference win of the season, 60-58 over Montana State Billings, in the week’s most thrilling finish.

With the game tied and time winding down in regulation, an MSUB miss initiated a wild scramble for the ball. As the shot hit iron, Green alertly ran up-court and found herself completely unmarked at midcourt. Destiny Riemers corralled the rebound and found Green with the pass, and the standout freshman won the footrace to the basket to send the visiting crowd into a frenzy.

The win snapped an 11-game losing streak for Alaska, eight of which were conference games. It was a bit of a trap game for MSUB, which started the week on the high of defeating Alaska Anchorage 74-67 at home to complete its first season sweep of the Seawolves since 1999.

The Nanooks weren’t the only Alaska team with narrow victories. After the second loss to MSUB extended its rare losing streak to three games, Alaska Anchorage pulled out two gritty road wins at Seattle Pacific. On Saturday, the Seawolves defeated SPU 60-58 in overtime despite not scoring a field goal in the extra period. On Sunday, UAA was behind by 11 after the first quarter but rallied for a 69-61 win.

Saint Martin’s also stopped a lengthy skid with an impressive comeback on Saturday. The Saints, who entered as losers of four straight, found themselves down 15 points at halftime to Simon Fraser, but roared back to drop 60 points in the second half and convincingly win by an 86-74 score. Tierney DeDonatis scored a career-high 29 points to lead the comeback. Simon Fraser won the Tuesday rematch in Burnaby, however, by a 66-61 score.

The hottest team in the conference is Central Washington. The Wildcats won their eighth straight game by defeating Northwest Nazarene 71-65 on Saturday. Samantha Bowman continued her absurd season on the glass, averaging 17.5 points and 20 rebounds per game on her way to scooping her fourth GNAC Player of the Week award. Against NNU, Bowman was everywhere, recording 15 points, 20 rebounds, four assists, four steals and four blocks. Central’s winning streak has caught the eye of people around the country, as the Wildcats received votes in both major polls for the first time this season.

If the Wildcats do crack the polls in the future, they’ll be joining Western Washington, who has been a fixture in them all season. The Vikings saw two games postponed earlier in the week but stood pat at No. 9 in the WBCA Coaches Poll and No. 10 in the D2SIDA Media Poll. Returning to the court on Tuesday, Western Washington maintained their spot at the top of the standings with a 77-59 road win over Western Oregon behind 24 points from Emma Duff.

The big news from the GNAC this week is that all 10 teams will qualify for a modified postseason tournament bracket, rather than the usual six teams. Additionally, a points rating system (PRS) will be used to seed teams based on the quality of their wins and losses.

The week ahead features a rivalry game between Western Washington and Seattle Pacific at Carver Gym on Thursday. Alaska Anchorage has two major tests ahead, as they host the teams directly above and below them in the D2SIDA West Region rankings in Northwest Nazarene on Thursday and Central Washington on Saturday.

GNAC BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS

In an effort to lessen the effects of postponements and cancellations of games this season due to COVID-19, the Great Northwest Athletic Conference has announced changes to the field sizes and qualifying criteria for its 2022 men’s and women’s basketball championships.

The conference’s Management Council and CEO Board unanimously voted to expand this year’s tournament to all 10 men’s and women’s programs. The GNAC Championships will run from March 2 to 5.

To accommodate full fields in both genders, the first two rounds of games will be split between Saint Martin’s University in Lacey, Washington, and Seattle Pacific University. In total, six games – two play-in contests and four quarterfinals matchups – will be contested at SPU’s Royal Brougham Pavilion. The other 12 games, including the semifinals and championship games in both genders, will be played at Marcus Pavilion on the campus of Saint Martin’s, which was awarded tournament-hosting rights two years ago.

For each gender, the No. 7 through No. 10 seeds will compete in play-in games on Wednesday, March 2. The winners will advance to an eight-team bracket, which will begin play on Thursday, March 3.

With the prospect of conference teams playing unbalanced schedules, tournament seeding in 2022 will be based on a points rating system rather than win/loss percentage.

The points rating system is an end-of-season calculation that attaches numeric values to each result based on whether the game was at home or on the road and where each opponent’s final conference winning percentage fell (i.e., .750 and above, .500 to .749, .250 to .499 and .249 and below). The better an opponent’s final winning percentage, the greater the point values for a win or a loss. It is similar to one of the key metrics used by Division II in ranking teams under consideration for NCAA postseason at-large berths in multiple sports, including men’s and women’s basketball.

Championship brackets are expected to be announced on Saturday, February 26, following the conclusion of the final games of the regular season. Ticket information for both venues will be released at a later date.

GNAC POINTS RATING SYSTEM
Points shall be awarded for each conference contest played:
7 points – win over a .750 or better team on the road
6.5 points – win over a .750 or better team at home
6 points – win over a .500 or better team on the road
5 points – win over a .500 or better team at home
4.5 points – win over a .250 or better team on the road
4 points – win over a .250 team or better at home
3.5 points – win over an under .250 team on the road
3 points – win over an under .250 team at home
2.5 points – loss at home or on the road to a .750 or better team
2 points – loss to a .500 or better team at home or on the road
1 point – loss to a .250 or better team at home or on the road
.5 points – loss to an under .250 team on the road
0 points – loss to an under .250 team at home

GNAC.TV

It is easy and free to access live streams and live stats for all 10 GNAC institutions. Visit GNAC.tv on your computer or device to access all that the conference’s digital network has to offer.

GNAC PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Samantha Bowman
Central Washington
C • 6-3 • Jr. • Zillah, Wash.
Bowman averaged 17.5 points and 3.5 steals per game and posted a pair of 20-rebound performances in two Wildcats wins. Bowman put together a monster performance of 20 points and 20 rebounds in Tuesday’s 72-60 win at Simon Fraser. She made 9 of 17 from the field to go with two assists and three steals. Bowman then finished with 15 points, 20 rebounds, four assists, four steals and four blocks in Saturday’s 71-65 win over Northwest Nazarene. She made 6 of 11 from the field and finished the week shooting 53.6 percent. It is her fourth GNAC Player of the Week award this season.

Also Nominated:
Destiny Reimers (Alaska), Rachel Ingram (Alaska Anchorage), Taryn Shelley (Montana State Billings), Nyalam Thabach (Northwest Nazarene), Tierney DeDonatis (Saint Martin’s), Jessica Jones (Simon Fraser), Meadow Aragon (Western Oregon)

AROUND THE GNAC

ALASKA
• After a 68-48 Thursday loss at Seattle Pacific to begin the week, Alaska snapped an 11-game losing streak with a dramatic 61-59 road victory over Montana State Billings on Saturday. The Nanooks hung tough with MSUB in the Sunday rematch, falling 77-71.
• With the game tied at 59-59, it appeared MSUB was set up for the last shot out of a timeout with 21 seconds to play. But an Aspen Giese three-pointer missed, and when the Yellowjackets tried to crash the offensive glass, Pearle Green was all alone at mid-court. Destiny Riemers grabbed the rebound and dished it to Green, who hustled to hit the go-ahead layup with two seconds left.
• Riemers was the Nanooks’ best player over the week, averaging 16.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game over the three games, highlighted by a 20-point, 11-rebound double-double in Alaska’s victory. Riemers also tallied 11 points and seven rebounds on Thursday and 18 points and eight rebounds on Sunday.
• Green averaged 12.3 points per game last week, led by a 21-point performance in Sunday’s loss. After going 2-for-13 from behind the arc against Seattle Pacific, Green combined to go 7-for-17 from deep in the two games against MSUB. She ranks sixth in Division II with 3.29 made three-pointers per game.
• Other standout performances for the Nanooks included freshman forward Emma Wass grabbing a career-high 13 rebounds in Sunday’s game and averaging 8.3 per game for the week, freshman guard Savannah Huerta leading all scorers with 14 points against SPU on Thursday and sophomore forward Ellen Silva averaging 4.7 rebounds and a block per game over the road trip.
• Alaska will have three home games this week, hosting Central Washington, who is receiving votes nationally, for back-to-back games Wednesday and Thursday before meeting Northwest Nazarene on Saturday.

ALASKA ANCHORAGE
• Alaska Anchorage lost for the second time in as many weeks to Montana State Billings, suffering a 74-67 defeat on Thursday, but halted a rare three-game skid with two road wins over Seattle Pacific, 60-58 in overtime on Saturday and 69-61 on Sunday.
• Sophomore guard Rachel Ingram was the star Seawolf for the week in the scoring department. In the loss to MSUB, Ingram scored all 21 of her points in the second half on seven three-pointers, setting a school record for three-pointers in a half. She then scored 13 points on Saturday and 11 on Sunday to average 15 points per game for the week. Over the three games, Ingram shot 52 percent from beyond the arc (13-25). She is averaging 6.9 points per game this season.
Tennae Voliva averaged 12.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. Her best game came in the loss to MSUB, when she shot 6 of 12 from the field and 6 of 7 from the line to finish with 18 points and seven rebounds. Voliva is averaging 10.2 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. She ranks second in the GNAC with an .833 free-throw percentage.
• Four Alaska Anchorage players had five or more steals over the three games: Jazzpher Evans with six and Voliva, Stephanie Jackson and Kimani Fernandez with five. Jackson and Fernandez each recorded three steals in Sunday’s win over SPU alone. As a team, Alaska Anchorage leads the conference and ranks 19th in Division II with 12.3 steals per game. They rank 10th in Division II with a +7.56 turnover margin.
• The Seawolves have the second-best scoring defense in the GNAC, holding opponents to 57.9 points per game. They are averaging 68.5 points per game.
• Alaska Anchorage will prepare for a more traditional two-game week, hosting Northwest Nazarene on Thursday and Central Washington, who is receiving votes nationally, on Saturday.

CENTRAL WASHINGTON
• Central Washington beat Northwest Nazarene, the most recent team to defeat the Wildcats, by a 71-65 score on Saturday.
• As a result of their 13-4 record and current eight-game win streak, which includes victories over top-10 nationally-ranked Western Washington and regionally-ranked NNU, the Wildcats received votes in both the WBCA Coaches Poll and D2SIDA Media Poll for the first time this season.
Samantha Bowman continued her incredible season by averaging 17.5 points and 20 rebounds between the win over NNU and the January 25 win over Simon Fraser, numbers that earned the junior center her fourth GNAC Player of the Week award of the year. Bowman scored 20 points and 20 rebounds in that win over SFU before putting together perhaps the most dominant well-rounded stat line in the GNAC this season against the Nighthawks – 15 points, 20 rebounds, four assists, four blocks and four steals. Bowman is Division II’s leading rebounder, averaging 16.1 boards per game, and ranks 10th in Division II with 2.67 blocks per game.
Kizzah Maltezo, the GNAC’s leading scorer at 20 points per game, was the Wildcats’ leading scorer with 19 against Northwest Nazarene. Maltezo shot 8 of 19 from the field and added four assists and four steals of her own.
Valerie Huerta hit a pair of three-pointers and 1 of 2 free throws to finish with seven points. Huerta is averaging 6.8 points per game.
• While they gained national poll attention for the first time, CWU stood pat at No. 5 in the West Region rankings, once again receiving one first-place vote.
• Central Washington will have three games in four days in the 49th state this week, playing two against Alaska on Wednesday and Thursday before clashing with Alaska Anchorage on Saturday.

MONTANA STATE BILLINGS
• Montana State Billings topped Alaska Anchorage 74-67 on Thursday before splitting a pair of games with Alaska. The Yellowjackets lost 61-59 on Saturday before exacting revenge and winning 77-71 on Sunday.
• The win over Alaska Anchorage clinched MSUB’s first regular-season sweep of UAA since 1999.
Taryn Shelley paced the Yellowjackets with a consistent week, averaging 20.7 points and 8.3 rebounds over the three games. Shelley’s best performances came in the two games against Alaska, as she recorded a 21-point, 11-rebound double-double on Saturday before going off for 28 points in Sunday’s win. Shelley ranks eighth in the GNAC in scoring at 13.9 points per game while ranking fourth with 7.5 rebounds per game.
Danielle Zahn was key to MSUB’s win over Alaska Anchorage, scoring a team-high 18 points on 5 of 8 from the field, 3 of 3 from deep and 5 of 6 from the line. The junior point guard also distributed five assists. Zahn leads the conference with 75 total assists and ranks seventh with 3.4 assists per game.
• A couple of freshman guards stepped up for the Yellowjackets on their Alaska trip. Aspen Giese tallied 15 assists against just two turnovers over the past three games, setting single-game career-highs in both rebounds and assists along the way. Chloe Williams had a career day on Sunday against Alaska, with career highs of 10 points, eight rebounds and four steals.
• Montana State Billings is tied for the No. 9 spot in the D2SIDA West Region rankings after having sole possession of ninth last week.
• Both of MSUB’s scheduled games against Simon Fraser on Thursday and No. 9/10 Western Washington on Saturday have been postponed due to health and safety protocols.

NORTHWEST NAZARENE
• Northwest Nazarene came up short in its only game of the week, losing to Central Washington 71-65 on Saturday. The Nighthawks had won seven of their last eight prior to the CWU game.
• Forward Nyalam Thabach was everywhere for NNU against the Wildcats, leading the team with 19 points, seven rebounds and two blocks. Thabach made 7 of 14 attempts from the field and 5 of 8 from the line. She ranks 10th in the GNAC with 13.3 points per game and sixth with 7.3 rebounds per game.
• A trio of Nighthawks – center Clare Eubanks and guards Ashlynn Sylve and Jordan Pinson – finished with 10 points apiece. Eubanks added a season-high seven rebounds while Pinson contributed three assists and three steals.
Teagan Thurman took the court for the first time in three weeks against the Wildcats and tallied four points, three rebounds and three steals in 14 minutes. Despite the layoff, Thurman ranks second in the GNAC with nine rebounds per game and fourth in total rebounds with 126.
• The Nighthawks have the second-highest scoring offense in the GNAC at 71.2 points per game. Their strength is clearly from inside, as they average a conference-leading 41.2 rebounds per game and have the GNAC’s third-highest field-goal percentage (.423) despite having the second-worst percentage from three-point range (.277).
• Northwest Nazarene is tied for sixth in the D2SIDA West Region rankings with fellow GNAC school Alaska Anchorage.
• The Nighthawks make a two-game excursion up to Alaska this week, facing Alaska Anchorage on Thursday and UAF on Saturday.

SAINT MARTIN’S
• Saint Martin’s utilized a double-digit comeback to beat Simon Fraser 86-74 on Saturday in Lacey, but Simon Fraser won the Tuesday rematch in Burnaby 66-61.
 • It wasn’t looking good for the Saints early on Saturday, with SMU down 41-26 at the break, but the Saints rallied for a streak-stopping win with an absolutely volcanic second half. The comeback was sparked by Tierney DeDonatis, who scored 27 of her career-high 29 points after halftime. DeDonatis shot 9 of 17 from the field, 4 of 6 from three-point range and 7 of 7 from the line.
Claire Dingus recorded two impressive performances, starting with a 16-point, 11-rebound double-double in Saturday’s win, which included six offensive boards. Dingus was even better on Tuesday despite the Saints loss, earning a 21-point, 11-rebound double-double along with a GNAC season-high seven steals. Dingus ranks third in the GNAC in both scoring (17.3 points per game) and rebounding (8.3 per game). In the former category, Dingus is the only player in the GNAC’s top four not to play for Central Washington.
• Freshman forward Chenoa Louie emerged as a post weapon for the Saints this week. She scored career-highs of 12 points and eight rebounds in Saturday’s win, then nearly matched them both with 10 points and eight rebounds in Tuesday’s loss.
• The Saints are converting their shots, with the fourth-highest field-goal percentage in the league (.416), but they have only the eighth-highest scoring offense at 65.1 points per game. The disconnect might lie in the Saints’ turnover margin, which is the lowest in the GNAC at -3.12.
• Saint Martin’s is back to receiving votes in the D2SIDA West Region rankings after dropping out of the poll last week.
• Saint Martin’s plays once this week, hosting Western Oregon on Saturday.

SEATTLE PACIFIC
• Seattle Pacific had mixed results during a three-game homestand, starting out with a 68-48 win over Alaska on Thursday before losing two close games to Alaska Anchorage 60-58 in overtime on Saturday and 69-61 on Sunday.
• The two games against UAA were polar opposites of one another. In Saturday’s contest, the Seawolves opened up a nine-point halftime lead before Seattle Pacific closed on a 13-5 run to force overtime, where UAA outscored the Falcons 5-3 without making a field goal. On Sunday, it was the Falcons who raced out to a double-digit first-half lead before Alaska Anchorage reeled them in in the second half.
• Guard Anna Eddy paced the Falcons attack, averaging 15.7 points over the three games. The sophomore scored 13 points in each of SPU’s first two games before exploding for a career-high 21 in Sunday’s loss to UAA. She shot 65 percent from the field and 46 percent from three-point range for the week. Eddy is averaging seven points per game and ranks sixth in the GNAC with a .383 three-point percentage.
• The Falcons made a concerted effort to spread the wealth against Alaska, with 13 different players logging seven minutes or more and 12 different players scoring. Eddy and Bayley Brennan (10) were the only Falcons in double figures.
Abril Rexach Roure continued to do a little bit of everything, averaging 2.7 points, 4.3 assists, five rebounds and a steal per game, with highs of eight rebounds in Saturday’s game against UAA and seven assists on Sunday.
• The Falcons will head north up Interstate 5 this week, clashing with No. 9 Western Washington on Thursday and Simon Fraser on Saturday.

SIMON FRASER
• Simon Fraser beat Western Oregon 62-59 on Thursday and lost to a resilient Saint Martin’s team 86-74 on Saturday, but won the Tuesday rematch in Burnaby with the Saints, 66-61.
Jessica Jones continues to show why she was named the GNAC Preseason Player of the Year despite missing the first two months of the season. Jones paced SFU with 15 points and 5.7 rebounds over the three games, led by 19 points and eight rebounds in the Saturday loss to SMU. Jones is averaging 17.1 points and 6.3 rebounds in seven games since her return.
• Junior Georgia Swant was a key contributor all week long. Swant was on triple-double watch against WOU, finishing with nine points, eight rebounds and six assists. Another well-rounded game followed, with Swant tallying six points, five rebounds, five assists and a block on Saturday. In Tuesday’s win, Swant scored 10 points to be one of three SFU players in double figures. She is averaging 7.6 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.  
Jessica Wisotzki regained some of her early-season scoring mojo by averaging 13.7 points per game for the week, led by 21 on Saturday. Wisotzki ranks tied for fifth in the GNAC with 15.6 points per game and ranks third with 2.1 made threes per game.
• At 70.1 points per game, Simon Fraser is one of four GNAC schools averaging over 70 per contest. They are the conference’s leading team in assists per game with 15.7 and rank third in three-point percentage (.314).  
• Simon Fraser’s scheduled Thursday game against Montana State Billings has been postponed. They will host Seattle Pacific on Saturday.

WESTERN OREGON
• Western Oregon lost a pair of games at home last week, falling to Simon Fraser 62-59 on Thursday and No. 9 Western Washington 77-59 on Tuesday.
Meadow Aragon put on a show all week, particularly in the Simon Fraser game. Aragon scored 17 points on 7 of 10 shooting along with five rebounds and five blocks. It’s the fourth five-block game of the season for Aragon, which are all tied for the third-highest single-game total in the GNAC this season. Against WWU, Aragon scored a team-high 13 points along with four rebounds and three steals. She shot 56 percent from the field for the week. On the season, Aragon ranks third in the GNAC with a .583 field-goal percentage and second with 2.4 blocks per game.
Madisyn Clark averaged 9.5 points per game for the Wolves, led by 11 points against Western Washington which all came from the free throw line. Clark was 11 of 14 from the stripe for the game, which is the most attempts and tied for the most makes in a single game in the GNAC this season.
Tresai McCarver remains WOU’s primary distributor and creator. McCarver averaged 8.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and three assists per game for the week, led by 11 points, eight boards and five assists against Simon Fraser. McCarver ranks second in the GNAC with 4.2 assists per game.
• Western Oregon leads the GNAC and ranks 7th in Division II with 5.4 blocks per game. They rank third in the conference in rebounds per game (39.2.
• The Wolves play one more time this week, traveling to Saint Martin’s on Saturday.

WESTERN WASHINGTON
• Western Washington’s two scheduled games against Saint Martin’s and Western Oregon on Thursday and Saturday were postponed. The Vikings made up the game with WOU on Tuesday, defeating the Wolves 77-59.
Emma Duff was again central to proceedings for the Vikings, leading all scorers with 24 points on 11 of 16 shooting. Duff knocked down two three-pointers and added five rebounds and three steals. Duff is averaging 15.6 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, both marks that rank fifth in the GNAC.
• Forward Carley Zaragoza was the Vikings’ second-leading scorer with 12 points on 5 of 8 shooting from the field. The 62 percent field-goal percentage for the game was nearly in line with Zaragoza’s season average, a GNAC-leading 60 percent (48-80). Zaragoza is averaging 7.9 points per game.
• With the Vikings needing to fill the role of senior point guard Dani Iwami, who is out for the season due to injury, Mollie Olson had another solid game as a distributor for WWU. Olson had nine assists, six rebounds and three steals to go with five points. Olson is the Vikings’ second-leading scorer at 9.9 points per game and ranks ninth in the GNAC with 3.3 assists per game.
• Western Washington leads the conference in scoring defense, allowing 53.1 points per game, as well as scoring margin (+17.9) and rebounding margin (+9.8). The Vikings are also the GNAC’s sweetest-shooting team, leading in field-goal percentage (.472) and three-point percentage (.343).
• The Vikings stood pat at No. 9 in the WBCA Coaches Poll and No. 10 in the D2SIDA Media Poll. The Vikings also remained at No. 1 in the D2SIDA West Region rankings, earning 4 of 6 first-place votes.
• The Vikings go on the road to face Saint Martin’s on Thursday and Western Oregon on Saturday.

 

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