GNAC Dominates Field For Upcoming NCAA West Regional
The four teams in the 2018 GNAC Championships semifinals will be on full display at the three-day regional tournament.
The four teams in the 2018 GNAC Championships semifinals will be on full display at the three-day regional tournament.
The NCAA West Regionals begin this Friday at Azusa Pacific University's Felix Event Center in Azusa, Calif.
The NCAA West Regionals begin this Friday at Azusa Pacific University's Felix Event Center in Azusa, Calif.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS – Four teams from the Great Northwest Athletic Conference were selected to the 2018 NCAA Division II West Regionals field during Sunday’s NCAA Selection Show. All four teams from the GNAC Championships’ semifinals were selected to advance to the NCAA postseason with Northwest Nazarene, Alaska Anchorage, Seattle Pacific and Montana State Billings earning berths.

Montana State Billings, the No. 7 seed, enters the tournament as the GNAC’s automatic qualifier following its first-ever GNAC Championships title Saturday night at the Alaska Airlines Center. Northwest Nazarene represents the highest GNAC seed at No. 4 while Alaska Anchorage earns the No. 5 seed.

Falling to MSUB in the GNAC Championships finals, Seattle Pacific enters the NCAA tournament for the 13th time in program history as the West Region’s No. 6 seed.

The opening round will commence this Friday at Azusa Pacific University’s Felix Event Center in Azusa, Calif. Seattle Pacific will face No. 3 seed UC San Diego at noon with Montana State Billings will take on No. 2 seed Hawaii Pacific at 2:30 p.m. Alaska Anchorage and Northwest Nazarene will square off against either other for the third time this season at 5 p.m.

Appearing in its fifth NCAA tournament in program history, Northwest Nazarene will take on GNAC rival Alaska Anchorage in the opening round. The No. 1 seed in the GNAC Championships, Northwest Nazarene saw its 13-game win streak snapped with a 76-69 semifinal loss to eventual tournament champ Montana State Billings. Co-regular season champions with the Seawolves at 18-2, the Nighthawks won their final 13 regular-season games to achieve the feat. Alaska Anchorage will make its sixth appearance in the tournament after winning four straight GNAC regular-season titles.

For a majority of the year, the Nighthawks relied heavily on their balanced scoring attack. Coupled with the scoring efficiency of senior guard Lexi Tubbs, Northwest Nazarene looked unbeatable late in the season. During the Nighthawks’ 13-game win streak, Tubbs led the GNAC with 19.6 points per game while shooting 49.4 percent from the floor. For the year, she is second in the GNAC with ­­15.8 points per game and is ninth in the league with 6.3 rebounds per game.

A pair of forwards pace the Alaska Anchorage offense. Junior Hannah Wandersee is fourth in the GNAC with 14.5 points per game while senior forward Shelby Cloninger has supplied 13 points per contest. Defense has been the Seawolves’ staple this season, forcing an unprecedented 632 turnovers with opponents averaging 21.8 turnovers per game.

Seattle Pacific opens the tournament against No. 3 seed UC San Diego. The Falcons led the GNAC in scoring defense, allowing just 61.3 points per game, and has limited opponents to 60 points or fewer 13 times this year. Junior guard Jordan McPhee is eighth in the GNAC with 13.9 points per game and is second on the team with a .436 field goal percentage.

Montana State Billings proved that anything is possible when you have the GNAC Player of the Year. Senior forward Alisha Breen was named the GNAC Championships MVP after totaling a three-day tournament total of 77 points. She leads a Yellowjackets team that is appearing in their sixth NCAA West Regionals and will take on the reigning PacWest champions, No. 2 seed Hawaii Pacific.

The only quarterfinal contest that won’t feature a GNAC team is between No. 1 Azusa Pacific and No. 8 Humboldt State. The winner of that game will play the Northwest Nazarene/Alaska Anchorage winner in the semifinals. The semifinals are will take place on Saturday with the final to be played Monday at 7 p.m.

At Felix Event Center, Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, Calif.
Fri., Mar. 9 – Quarterfinals
No. 6 Seattle Pacific vs. No. 3 UC San Diego, Noon
No. 7 Montana State Billings vs. No. 2 Hawaii Pacific, 2:30 p.m.
No. 5 Alaska Anchorage vs. No. 4 Northwest Nazarene, 5 p.m.
No. 8 Humboldt State at No. 1 Azusa Pacific, 7:30 p.m.

Sat., Mar. 10 – Semifinals
SPU/UCSD winner vs. MSUB/HPU winner, 5 p.m.
UAA/NNU winner vs. HSU/APU winner, 7:30 p.m.

Mon., Mar. 12 – Championship
Championship Game, 7 p.m.