Strong Start Sets The Stage For GNAC Play
Ozi Nwabuko was named GNAC Player of the Week and was the first freshman to earn the honor this year.
Ozi Nwabuko was named GNAC Player of the Week and was the first freshman to earn the honor this year.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Volleyball isn't the only sport that has some important action in the state of Alaska. In women's basketball Western Washington and Simon Fraser will also go to Alaska for a set of four games between some of the best teams in the West Region.

In the D2SIDA West Region rankings, Alaska Anchorage is No. 2 and will host No. 5 Simon Fraser on Wednesday at the Alaska Airlines Center. The following night, No. 4 Western Washington will face Alaska, which is receiving votes. The teams will switch locations for another set of games on Saturday that will play a big part in setting up how the 2016-17 season will be in GNAC women's basketball.

However, the top team in the region will be away from the action as No. 1 Seattle Pacific heads down to Oregon for a couple battles against Western Oregon and Concordia. Seattle Pacific leads NCAA Division II in points allowed per game, holding opponents to just 43.2 points despite already having had to face some of last year's top teams in the West Region.

Saint Martin's is coming off a strong week at the Lynda Goodrich Tournament, looking to add to its three-game winning streak. Baylee Olsen played a big part in that streak, making a GNAC record seven three-pointers against Holy Names without a miss. She has now made a GNAC record-tying 10 consecutive treys. She will have a chance to break that record on Thursday at Concordia before the Saints go to Western Oregon on Saturday.


Player of the Week
Ozi Nwabuko
Simon Fraser
F • 5-11  • Fr. • Port Coquitlam, B.C.

Nwabuko averaged 17.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game as she led the Clan for four wins. She opened the week by scoring a career-high 22 points, making 8 of 10 shots to go along with nine rebounds in a 78-75 win on Tuesday over Dominican. Nwabuko led the Clan in scoring in all four wins.

Also Nominated: Jasmine Miller (Western Oregon), Jordyn Peacock (Concordia), Jordan Wilson (Alaska), Jessica Valley (Western Washington), Elin Johannson (Saint Martin’s), Raquel Jardine (Northwest Nazarene).


After a hot start to the 2016-17 season, the Nanooks slowed down with two losses last week against out-of-region opponents. Between those two losses, Alaska picked up a 73-71 win over Stanislaus State.
    In the 71-61 loss to Newman, Jordan Wilson scored 30 points. It was the third time this year that she has scored exactly 30 points and the fourth time in her career that she has reached that mark. She went 13 for 19 from the field, making it the third time she has made more than 10 field goals in a game. Nobody else in the GNAC has done that even once.
    Kailee Skjold had 24 points and eight rebounds against Metro State and 17 points and 10 rebounds against Stanislaus State. She boasts a conference-best 9.4 rebounds per game and ranks seventh in the conference in points per game with 14.4.
    The Nanooks will open conference play with a pair of key matchups at home against Simon Fraser and Western Washington. The Nanooks are receiving votes in the D2SIDA West Region Rankings, while WWU is No. 4 and SFU No. 5.

The Seawolves took their first loss of the 2016-17 season, falling 66-57 to Division-I opponent, Portland. It was UAA’s only counting game of the week.
    The Seawolves led for most of the first half and for moments in the second half as well, but two separate 7-0 runs for Portland gave it the lead for good.
    Autummn Williams recorded four steals as the Seawolves forced Portland into 26 turnovers. Alaska Anchorage now leads Division II in steals (20.0), turnovers forced (32.4) and turnover margin (17.8). The Seawolves also have the second best points against average at 44.
    Williams is averaging 15.8 points per game, while Hannah Wandersee has 10.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.
    On Wednesday, the Seawolves open GNAC play at the Alaska Airlines Center to play against Simon Fraser, which has an eight-game winning streak. Then on Saturday, the Seawolves host Western Washington, which is receiving votes in both national polls.

Central Washington dropped all three games this week against teams from each of the three conferences represented in the West Region. The Wildcats lost to Cal State San Bernardino and Hawaii Pacific in the CWU Thanksgiving Tournament. Then on Tuesday, they lost the GNAC opener against Northwest Nazarene, 81-68.
    In the loss to CSUSB, Taylor Baird recorded her third double double of the season with 19 points and 16 rebounds. Those 16 rebounds are the most in a single game by any player in the GNAC this year. Baird ranks second in the conference in rebounds (8.9) and ninth in points (14.1).
    The Wildcats will only play once this week, hosting Montana State Billings, which was picked fourth in the preseason GNAC Coaches Poll.

The Cavaliers narrowly lost in both of their games in St. Paul, Minn. last week at the 2016 Radisson Hotel MSP North Classic. Concordia is now on a four-game losing streak, but returns home this week to begin conference play.
    In the 55-52 loss to Concordia St. Paul, Jordyn Peacock recorded team highs of 11 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. She now has 22 blocks this  year and ranks fourth in Division II in blocks per game. She is one of six Cavaliers averaging at least six points per game. Only three GNAC teams have more players averaging at least six points per game.
    On Saturday, Bailey Cartwright came off the bench to score 13 points to go along with four steals, two assists and five rebounds. She was the fifth different player in six games to lead Concordia in scoring.
    The Cavaliers will begin conference play at home against Saint Martin’s, who has already played twice at LCEF Court, winning both of those games. That game will be on Thursday before Concordia plays D2SIDA No. 5 Seattle Pacific on Saturday. Concordia will also travel to Boise, Idaho next Wednesday to play at Boise State.

The Crusaders are currently atop the GNAC standings after winning the GNAC opener 81-68 at home against Central Washington on Tuesday. That win came a few days after NNU was at Central Washington for its Thanksgiving tournament, where the Crusaders took two losses to West Region opponents.
    Northwest Nazarene continues to have one of the best offenses in the nation with a 49.5 field goal percentage and 82 points per game. That offensive effort has been led by Kate Cryderman, who is an impressive 11 for 22 from beyond the arc.
    The Crusaders have been characterized by their balanced effort offensively with 11 different players scoring at least four points per game. However, it may be the player with less than four points per game that is most responsible for the offensive success. Starting points guard Kaitlyn Merritt has racked up 19 assists already this year. She also has only four turnovers, giving her the seventh best assist/turnover ratio in Division II.
    Northwest Nazarene will host Montana State Billings on Thursday before taking more than two weeks off. The Crusaders won’t return to GNAC play until after Christmas.

The Yellowjackets faced two tough road tests last week and earned a split. They defeated Chadron State 66-60 before getting blown out on a short turnaround to South Dakota Mines, 83-42.
    Tiana Hanson led the team in scoring and rebounding in both games with a combined total of 28 points and 11 rebounds. She has now led the Yellowjackets in points in each of the last four games and has scored double digits in every game this year.
    Despite the 2-5 record, MSUB remains on of the best teams in the nation in terms of protecting the ball with only 73 turnovers in seven games. That is the third least turnovers per game allowed in NCAA Division II.
    Montana State Billings will remain on the road to face Northwest Nazarene and Central Washington, opening conference play.

Saint Martin’s continued what has been a fine start to the 2016-17 season with two wins at the Lynda Goodrich Classic over PacWest teams, beating Holy Names, 69-60, and Notre Dame de Namur, 78-61.
    Elin Johansson recorded a double-double in the win over NDNU with 17 points and 11 rebounds. She leads the Saints in both categories with 14.3 points per game and 8.0 rebounds per game. She is one of only three players in the conference averaging at least 14 points and eight rebounds this year.
    Baylee Olsen led the Saints in scoring with 22 points against Holy Names and played a key role in the fourth-quarter comeback hitting two treys during a 14-0 run that gave SMU the lead for good. Overall, Olsen was a perfect 7 for 7 from beyond the arc, which set a new GNAC record for most three-pointers made without a miss. Olsen has now made all of her last 10 three-pointers, which ties the record set in 2009.
    Olsen will have a chance to break that record on Thursday against Concordia at  7 p.m. The Saints then play at Western Oregon on Saturday.

After being picked fifth in the conference, the Falcons are now fifth in the nation. It has been more than a week since the last time that Seattle Pacific played. The Falcons are the lone undefeated team remaining in the GNAC and one of only two in the West Region.
    The Falcons moved up to No. 1 in the latest D2SIDA West Regional rankings and are ranked No. 5 nationally. Seattle Pacific also has the best defense in the nation, allowing only 43.2 points per game. They also win by an average margine of 33.2 points per game, which is the third best in Division II.
    Courtney Hollander leads the Falcons in both scoring (13.2) and rebounding (8.4). Against UC San Diego, Hollander registered a double double with 13 points and 14 rebounds. She eventually made the all-tournament team. Hollander’s effort on the glass has been a big reason for SPU’s success. The Falcons have a 12.2 rebounding margin per game, which ranks 17th in the nation, despite running four guards.
    The Falcons have won every game they have played by at least 17 points and will look to keep that going next week when they play at Western Oregon and Concordia.

This week’s Red Lion/GNAC Team of the Week Simon Fraser won four games in the span of five days with the help of a breakout performance by freshman Ozi Nwabuko.
 In the first three games of the season, Nwabuko made the most of limited playing time making six of her first nine shots to earn a spot in the starting lineup. The freshman, however, was slow to adapt to the spotlight failing to make a basket in her first two starts, while still receiving limited playing time.
Against Dominican, Nwabuko had her break out performance, tallying 22 points  and nine rebounds, while making 8 of 10 shots to lead the Clan to a narrow 78-75 win. Over the next three games, Nwabuko led the team in scoring in each victory to boost the Clan’s winning streak to eight games.
    Simon Fraser had its home opener against Cal Poly Pomona, playing the Broncos on consecutive days over the weekend. The Clan beat the Broncos both times, while the Broncos have already claimed wins this season against teams that reached the postseason last year.
    Ellen Kett leads the team in both rebounds and assists with 58 of each. Her 58 assists leads the conference and in rebounds, the 58 rank third. Meg Wilson leads the conference in steals with 22 and ranks third in points with 123.
    Simon Fraser will go to Alaska this week to face Alaska Anchorage on Wednesday and Alaska on Saturday. The Clan is receiving votes nationally and ranked fifth in the region in the D2SIDA poll, while Alaska Anchorage is No. 2 and Alaska is receiving votes.

The Wolves won their only contest of the week, beating Oregon Tech, 59-50. Jasmine Miller and Kaylie Boschma each had a team-high 10 points.
    The Wolves are one of only two teams in the conference that are undefeated at home after three games. Shelby Snook has a team-best 14.6 points per game and has made 12 of 26 shots from beyond the arc.
    Savannah Heugly leads the team in points off the bench with 9.4 per game along with 4.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals.
    The Wolves will host Seattle Pacific on Thursday and then Saint Martin’s on Saturday. Western Oregon is looking to become the first GNAC team to win four consecutive home games this year.

Western Washington swept its PacWest opponents at the Lynda Goodrich Tournament to improve to 5-1 on the season. Taylor Peacocke was named tournament MVP, which was her third such honor of the season.
    Peacocke scored 44 points in the two games and has now scored at least 20 points in all six games this season. Her 24.2 points per game ranks second in Division II. Kiana Gandy isn’t far behind in the points category with 16.0 per game, which is the fourth most in the conference, but Peacocke has led the team in scoring in each game.
    Against Notre Dame de Namur, Tia Briggs recorded a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Then Jessica Valley got her own double-double against Holy Names with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
    The Vikings are taking 28 free throws per game, which is the most in the GNAC by a wide margin. Hannah Stipanovich is 34 for 36 from the free-throw line, while Gandy has gone 13 for 14.
    Western Washington travels to Alaska this week to play Alaska on Thursday and Alaska Anchorage on Saturday.

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