Falcons Set For ESPN3 Women's Championship Showdown
With the win, the Falcons handed Alaska Anchorage its first loss of the season and earned its first-ever victory at the Alaska Airlines Center.
With the win, the Falcons handed Alaska Anchorage its first loss of the season and earned its first-ever victory at the Alaska Airlines Center.

Friday, March 2, 2018

ANCHORAGE, Alaska. – If one upset wasn’t enough, Seattle Pacific made the underdogs 2 for 2 today as they knocked out the No. 2-seeded host Alaska Anchorage in the final semifinal matchup of the GNAC Women’s Basketball Championships at the Alaska Airlines Center.

The Falcons advanced to the GNAC Championships title game for the first time in program history with a 74-65 win over the Seawolves and will take on No. 4 seed Montana State Billings tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. (Alaska) for the GNAC Championship. The game will be streamed nationally on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN as part of the NCAA Division II Basketball Showcase.

Alaska Anchorage exits the tournament 25-4 overall while SPU improves to 23-6. Of the Seawolves’ four losses, two of them have been at the hands of Seattle Pacific. Alaska Anchorage now awaits its West Regional postseason fate when the NCAA Selection Show airs this Sunday at 7 p.m. (Pacific).

Rachel Shim paced the SPU offense with 18 points while Julia Haining chipped in 13 points in a starting role. The Falcons shot 53.2 percent from the field and forced 18 UAA turnovers. Despite continuous foul trouble throughout the game, the Falcons’ reserves, led by Erica Pagano’s 10, managed 19 points.

Kaitlyn Hurley brought the Seawolves back within 66-59 after nailing her second three-pointer of the contest with 1:40 left in the game. Despite Shelby Cloninger’s layup to cut the SPU lead down two with 37.6 seconds on the clock, the Falcons were able to knock down late free throws to seal their first-ever win inside the Alaska Airlines Center.

Alaska Anchorage’s Sala Langi pumped in a team and career-high 14 points on 6 of 10 shooting while Hurley went 2 of 3 from beyond the arc for a total of 12 points. Despite forcing 25 turnovers, the Seawolves were only able to capitalize for 19 points.

The Falcons began the game at a torrid pace. Seattle Pacific scored the opening 13 points while forcing five UAA turnovers all before the 7:19 mark of the first quarter.

Alaska Anchorage, the five-time and defending GNAC champion, was able to find its feet shortly after. Hannah Wandersee’s baseline jumper jumpstarted a 9-0 the Seawolves run. During the spurt, UAA held the Falcons scoreless for the next 5:03. Missing its next 10 previous shots, Lindsay Lee ended the SPU drought after collecting a pass from Julia Haining for an easy reverse layup to extend the Falcons’ lead 15-9.

Knocking down a pair of free throws with 6:36 remaining in the second period, Langi tied the contest for the first time at 23. Shim responded on the other end with a right-handed runner to restore SPU’s advantage. The Seawolves continued to pour on the pressure as they forced seven second-quarter turnovers. Capped by Lee’s corner three-pointer, Seattle Pacific scored the final five points of the quarter to walk into halftime tied at 33-33.

The GNAC’s fifth-leading scorer entering the night, Seattle Pacific’s Jordan McPhee was limited to one first-half point before picking up her third foul two minutes into the second period. Alaska Anchorage’s Yazmeen Goo and Cloninger combined for just 15 minutes of action due to early foul trouble.

Leading the team with 12 points, Shim exited the game at 7:16 mark of the third quarter after being called for her fourth foul. Hollander picked up the SPU scoring, however, as she netted five-straight points to put the Falcons up 40-34.

Seattle Pacific mirrored its fast start late in the third quarter. The Falcons finished the period on a 9-3 run and limited the Seawolves to just one field goal in the final 4:42. They outscored UAA 20-9 in the period.

The Falcons jumped out to its largest lead of the game at 15 after Pagano powered in a lay-in to put SPU up 57-42 with 8:32 left in the contest.