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Four Clinched, 2 Spots Remain Open In Final 4 Games
Western Washington clinched the a berth to the GNAC Championships, but face two fellow tournament bound opponents this week.
Western Washington clinched the a berth to the GNAC Championships, but face two fellow tournament bound opponents this week.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

TOURNAMENT BOUND: Alaska Anchorage, Western Washington, Montana State Billings and Simon Fraser have each clinched their spots in the GNAC Women’s Basketball Championships in Lacey, Wash. beginning on Mar. 3.

Alaska Anchorage owns the top record in the conference at 15-1 in GNAC play, 28-1 overall. The Seawolves, who have been in the top-seven of both Division II polls all season, are currently riding a 16-game win streak. They are ranked tied for No. 1 in the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Division II Poll with 10 first place votes and are No. 3 in the D2SIDA Media Poll. They lead Division II in assists (607), rebounds (1,224), steals (413) and steals per game (14.2) and are second in assists per game (20.9), scoring margin (29.1), three-point field goals made (246) and turnovers forced (24.72 per game).

Western Washington enters the week in second place in the standings at 14-2 in GNAC play, 18-6 overall. The Vikings have won a season best six games in a row, but will finish the season against three of four playoff bound teams. Kayla Bernsen helped lead the Vikings to two wins last week, defeating Seattle Pacific 60-43 on Thursday and Saint Martin’s 81-52 on Saturday. Bernsen was named the GNAC Women’s Basketball Player of the Week after averaging 16.5 points and eight rebounds in the two wins. She had a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds against SMU.

The Vikings were ranked No. 9 in the last D2SIDA West Region Poll with the first NCAA Division II Regional Polls coming out on Wednesday. The Vikings rank fourth in Division II in field goal percentage (48.4), fifth in blocked shots per game (5.6) and seventh in total blocked shots (134). Bernsen is fifth in total blocked shots (71) and sixth in blocked shots per game (2.96).

Montana State Billings is in third place in the conference with a 13-3 GNAC record, 17-7 overall. They Yellowjackets were selected to tie for seventh in the GNAC Preseason Coaches Poll, but have instead clinched their first GNAC Championships berth since the 2012-13 season.

The Yellowjackets are on a three game winning streak and were among those receiving votes in the D2SIDA West Region Poll. This week, they will be on the road for a playoff preview, visiting Simon Fraser on Thursday and Western Washington on Saturday. The Yellowjackets had the advantage in the teams’ previous meetings, defeating both WWU and SFU at home.

Simon Fraser owns the fourth playoff spot with a 10-6 GNAC record and 12-9 overall. The Clan is three games back of third place and two games up on fifth place, putting them as the likely fourth seed for the GNAC tournament.

Just like the Yellowjackets, Simon Fraser was also among those receiving votes in the D2SIDA West Region Poll. The Clan have had some of the most exciting individual performances this season, added by Ellen Kett’s GNAC record-tying 16 assists against Saint Martin’s. Just the week before, Elisa Homer set a new GNAC record with 12 three-pointers made in a game. Kett leads Division II in three-point field goal percentage (53.7) and is ranked third in assists per game (7.0) and seventh in total assist (148). Homer is second in Division II in three-pointers made per game (4.00), fifth in three-pointers attempted (213) and sixth in total three-pointers made (84). The Clan host Western Washington and Montana State Billings this week in true measuring-stick games for all three teams.

WELCOME TO THE CLUB: Saint Martin’s Krista Stabler became the 67th member of the GNAC 1,000-point club last week after scoring 23 points at Simon Fraser on Thursday. The senior is fourth in the GNAC in scoring this season, averaging 16.7 points per game. Stabler joins Western Washington’s Taylor Peacocke, Alaska’s Jordan Wilson, Alaska Anchorage’s Jenna Buchanan and Jessica Madison, Northwest Nazarene’s Taylor Simmons and Montana State Billings’ Alisha Breen as players who have all reached the 1,000-point plateau this season.

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. Western Oregon and Saint Martin’s men’s basketball played the first ROOT SPORTS televised game on Sat., Jan. 9. The first women’s game was on Wed., Jan. 13, featuring 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)

For satellite subscribers, ROOT SPORTS can be found on DirecTV channel 687 and DISH Network channel 426.

ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAMS:

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.

GNAC TOURNAMENT UPCOMING: The 2016 GNAC Basketball Championships will take place Mar. 3-5 at Marcus Pavilion on the campus of Saint Martin’s University in Lacey, Wash. Advanced ticket

sales are now available by logging on to the GNAC’s ticket sales page on EventBrite.com. Ticket discounts are available on advance sales for single session passes and full tournament passes. Military members will also receive a 25 percent on tickets, but must show valid military ID at the gate.

Both the men’s and women’s championship games on Saturday night will be aired as part of the American Sports Network’s Division II Showcase. The women’s championship game will be on Sat., Mar. 5, at 7:30 p.m.

GNAC WOMEN'S BASKETBALL PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Kayla Bernsen, Western Washington
C • 6-3 • Senior • Moses Lake, Wash.

Bernsen averaged 16.5 points and eight rebounds in a pair of wins over Puget Sound regional rivals Seattle Pacific and Saint Martin’s. She scored 18 points on 8 of 10 from the field and pulled down six rebounds in Thursday’s 60-43 win over the Falcons. Bernsen then added a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds in an 81-52 victory over the Saints.

Also nominated: Monica Grimsrud (Montana State Billings), Emily Howey (Western Oregon), Megan Mullings (Alaska Anchorage), Taylor Simmons (Northwest Nazarene), Kaillee Skjold (Alaska), Megan Wiedeman (Saint Martin’s).

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