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Ranked Teams Accumulating Ahead Of Conference Play
Alaska Anchorage's Nicole Pickney leads the GNAC with 4.8 assists per game. The Seawolves are 5-0 and ranked No. 8 in the WBCA Coaches Poll and No. 1 in the D2SIDA Media Poll.
Alaska Anchorage's Nicole Pickney leads the GNAC with 4.8 assists per game. The Seawolves are 5-0 and ranked No. 8 in the WBCA Coaches Poll and No. 1 in the D2SIDA Media Poll.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

The GNAC’s top teams continued their hot starts and garnered plenty of regional and national recognition. The conference has three teams – Alaska Anchorage, Western Washington and Saint Martin’s – ranked in the Top 25 in the D2SIDA Media National Poll, featuring UAA at No. 1. Those three squads also occupy the top three places in D2SIDA’s West Region rankings.

With a full slate of Thanksgiving weekend games, the standout performance came from a team that wasn’t even celebrating the holiday. Simon Fraser forward Jessica Wisotzki won the GNAC Player of the Week award after averaging 29.5 points per game in SFU’s two contests at the Sea Lions Thanksgiving Classic in San Diego.

Wisotzki scored 32 points on 12 of 18 shooting against Concordia Irvine, leading Simon Fraser to an 85-75. The next night, she came out and scored 27 points and eight rebounds, but even that wasn’t enough to top host Point Loma, who won 81-75.

Northwest Nazarene, on the other hand, did come away with two wins against those same two opponents, who were picked to finish third and fourth in the PacWest Conference. The two quality wins earned the NNU women selection as the GNAC Team of the Week. Teagan Thurman led the way, averaging 14.5 points and 11 rebounds, including a 20-point, 13-rebound double-double against CUI.

Speaking of double-doubles, Central Washington center Samantha Bowman has five, tied for the most in Division II, and she added two to her tally this past week. Bowman put up lines of 13 points and 13 rebounds against Westminster (Utah) and 12 points and 16 rebounds against MSU Denver. She ranks top-five nationally in both blocks and rebounds per game.

Alaska Anchorage and Western Washington each remained undefeated by recording a pair of victories, and both will enter the first round of GNAC games this week at 5-0.

The highlight of this week’s slate is a match-up between UAA and Saint Martin’s, who has stormed to a 5-1 start and cracked No. 25 in the national D2SIDA poll while rising to No. 3 in the West Region rankings. This week of conference action will just be a teaser, with the next GNAC games not being played until Dec. 30.

GNAC PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Jessica Wisotzki
Simon Fraser
F • 6-2 • So. • Langley, B.C.
Wisotzki averaged 29.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in two games in San Diego. Wisotzki scored 32 points in Friday’s 85-75 win over Concordia Irvine, connecting on 12 of 18 from the field and 5 of 6 from three-point range to go with five rebounds, three assists and two steals. She then led SFU with 27 points in Saturday’s 81-75 loss to Point Loma, shooting 11 of 22 from the field to go with eight rebounds and two blocks.

Also Nominated: Destiny Reimers (Alaska), Nicole Pinkney (Alaska Anchorage), Cariann Kunkel (Montana State Billings), Teagan Thurman (Northwest Nazarene), Claire Dingus (Saint Martin’s), Tresai McCarver (Western Oregon), Riley Dykstra (Western Washington)

AROUND THE GNAC

ALASKA
• Alaska hosted the Mt. McKinley Bank North Star Invitational in Fairbanks over Thanksgiving weekend, losing 77-69 to No. 15 Tampa on Thursday, 76-61 to Northwood on Friday and 87-62 to Southern Nazarene on Saturday.
• The youth movement is in full effect up in Fairbanks. Freshman guard Pearle Green leads the conference with 36.3 minutes per game, while two other freshmen, Claudia Diez Marti and Destiny Riemers, are in the top ten in minutes per game.
• Riemers led the way for the Nanooks this week, averaging 14.7 points and six rebounds and three steals per game. Her highlights were scoring 21 points with eight rebounds on Thanksgiving against Tampa and 19 points and six boards
against Northwood. Riemers ranks eighth in the GNAC with 14.6 points per game and ninth with 6.2 rebounds per game.
• Diez Marti scored a season-high 15 points against Northwood while playing all 40 minutes, making three three-pointers. Green chipped in 15 points against Tampa and ranks sixth in the GNAC with 15 points per game.
• Paola Perez-Mendoza has been a stat dynamo for the Nanooks, averaging 4.3 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 3.3 steals per game over the three games this week. Perez-Mendoza recorded five steals against both Tampa and Northwood. She leads the GNAC and ranks 26th in Division II with 17 total steals.
• Alaska ranks second in the GNAC in steals (50) and fourth in assists (78).
• The Nanooks open conference play on the road against Western Oregon on Thursday and Saint Martin’s on Saturday.

ALASKA ANCHORAGE
• Alaska Anchorage played the Winston-Salem Rams twice and swept the doubleheader, winning 73-46 on Friday and 62-53 on Saturday.
• Sophomore guard Rachel Ingram fired away early and often on her way to pacing the Seawolves with 11 points per game over the week. In the Friday game, Ingram shot 4 of 13, with all her attempts coming from behind the arc for a 12-point night. On Saturday, Ingram
scored 10 points on 4-for-10 shooting, including 2 of 6 from three.
• Forward and Preseason All-Conference selection Tennae Voliva averaged 9.5 points and eight rebounds per game for the week, led by an 11-point, eight-rebound effort on Saturday. On Friday, seven of Voliva’s eight rebounds were offensive boards. She ranks sixth in the GNAC with 2.6 offensive rebounds per game.
• Senior guard Lauren Johnson averaged 10 points per game, led by a 14-point night on Saturday in which she shot 4-for-6 from the field and was perfect from three-point range (2-2) and the free-throw line (4-4).
• The Seawolves rank second in Division II with 19.4 assists per game. They lead the GNAC in both scoring offense (75.4 points per game) and scoring defense (51.2 points per game), and their scoring margin of +24.2 ranks 11th in Division II.
• Alaska Anchorage remains the No. 1 team in the country according to the D2SIDA Media Poll while moving up one spot to No. 8 in the WBCA Coaches Poll. The Seawolves held steady at the No. 1 spot for the D2SIDA West Region rankings, receiving five of six first-place votes.
• Alaska Anchorage will open GNAC play by traveling to Saint Martin’s on Thursday and Western Oregon on Saturday.

CENTRAL WASHINGTON
• Central Washington stumbled at their own CWU Tournament, falling to Westminster (Utah) for the second time in as many weeks 83-71 on Friday and MSU Denver 76-54 on Saturday.
• Samantha Bowman continues to be a double-double machine. The junior center has five on the season, tied for the most in Division II, and two of them came in this week’s contests. Against Westminster, Bowman scored 13 points and 13 rebounds while blocking three shots. Against MSU Denver, Bowman scored 12 points with 16 rebounds and two blocks.
• The 16 rebounds were the third-most in a single game by a GNAC player this season, and Bowman is responsible for all of the top three performances. Bowman ranks fourth in Division II with 14.7 rebounds per game and second in Division II with 3.5 blocks per game.
• Senior forward Kassidy Malcolm was the Wildcats’ leading scorer this week, averaging 23 points per game in the two losses. Malcolm scored a season-high 25 against Westminster while shooting 7-for-10 from the field, 3-for-3 from beyond the arc and 8-for-9 from the line. She scored 21 points to go with eight rebounds against MSU Denver. Malcolm ranks sixth in the GNAC with 15 points per game.
• Kizzah Maltezo averaged 13.5 points and 4.5 assists over the week. She had 23 points and six assists against Westminster, her fourth 20-point game of the season. Maltezo ranks second in the GNAC with 18.5 points per game. She leads the conference with 98 field goal attempts.
• Central Washington ranks second in the conference in scoring offense (70.3 points per game) and 3-point percentage (.333).
• The Wildcats moved up a spot in the D2SIDA West Region Rankings to No. 9.
• Central Washington will travel to SPU on Thursday and Montana State Billings on Saturday to kick off GNAC action.

MONTANA STATE BILLINGS
• Montana State Billings traveled to South Dakota for the Dacotah Bank Classic and lost 76-63 to Northern State on Friday and 69-60 to MSU Moorhead on Saturday.
• Cariann Kunkel led the Yellowjackets, averaging 18.5 points and shooting 52 percent from the field for the week. Kunkel had 18 points against Northern State and 19 against MSU Moorhead, which included a 9-for-11 performance from the free-throw line for the second-most free-throw attempts in a game this year. Kunkel is currently ninth in the GNAC in scoring with 13 points per game.
• Taryn Shelley averaged 10 points and nine rebounds per game for MSUB, paced by a 13-point, 12-rebound double-double at Northern State. Shelley ranks fifth in the GNAC with 7.7 rebounds per game and fourth with 1.3 blocks per game.
• Point guard Danielle Zahn ranks fourth in the conference with 4.2 assists per game. She averaged 3.5 per game this week, including six against Northern State.
• Montana State Billings leads the conference and ranks 26th in Division II with a .784 free throw percentage. Despite only having the conference’s sixth-best winning percentage, the Yellowjackets have the league’s third-best scoring margin at +5.8.
• After the two losses, MSUB dropped out of the D2SIDA West Region rankings but still received votes in the poll.
• The Yellowjackets open GNAC play by hosting Northwest Nazarene on Thursday and Central Washington on Saturday.

NORTHWEST NAZARENE
• Northwest Nazarene came through with two huge wins at the Sea Lions Thanksgiving Classic in San Diego, knocking off Point Loma 71-64 on Friday and Concordia Irvine 75-62 on Saturday.
• The Nighthawks’ two opponents were picked to finish third and fourth, respectively, in the PacWest preseason poll and both teams are receiving votes in the D2SIDA West Region rankings. The quality wins earned NNU the GNAC Team of the Week award.
• Teagan Thurman was NNU’s top performer despite coming off the bench in both games. She averaged 14 points and 11.5 rebounds over the course of the two wins, buoyed by a 20-point, 13-rebound double-double in the win over Concordia. Thurman ranks second in the GNAC with 8.8 rebounds per game.
• Ten NNU players scored and eight different Nighthawks had over five points in the win over Point Loma. Junior point guard Lydia Nieto and freshman Ashlynn Sylve led the way with 11 points apiece.
• Against CUI, Thurman and fellow forward Nyalam Thabach both scored 20 points and were incredibly efficient – Thurman shot 10-for-13 from the field while Thabach was 9-for-11.
• The Nighthawks lead the GNAC with a .453 field goal percentage and rank second by pulling down 40.3 rebounds per game.
• Northwest Nazarene checked in at No. 10 in the latest D2SIDA West Region Poll after previously being unranked.
• The Nighthawks will open conference play by traveling to Montana State Billings on Thursday and Seattle Pacific on Saturday.

SAINT MARTIN’S
• Saint Martin’s defeated St. Mary’s (Texas) 63-61 on Tuesday but endured their first setback of the season in a 92-81 Thanksgiving Day defeat at Texas A&M-International.
• Claire Dingus continued her high-scoring ways, averaging 22 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Dingus used her clutch gene again in the win over St. Mary’s, notching a 14-point, 10-rebound double-double that included draining a game-tying three-pointer before icing the game with two go-ahead free throws with six seconds to play. She was even more impressive against Texas A&M-International, scoring 30 points on 12 of 20 shooting.
• Dingus has two of the three 30-point games in the GNAC this season. She leads the GNAC in scoring with 19.8 points per game and is fourth with 8.2 rebounds per game.
• Senior guard Tierney DeDonatis averaged 16 points and 3.5 assists per game. She scored 18 points against St. Mary’s before recording 14 points, five assists and two steals against Texas A&M-International. DeDonatis ranks second in the GNAC with 4.7 assists per game.
• Guard Lauren Morris and forward Iternite Reed each went 6-for-6 from the free-throw line this week. Morris and Reed rank first and second in the GNAC, respectively, with .929 and .917 free-throw percentages.
• The Saints are gaining attention for their hot start. They rose one spot to No. 3 in the D2SIDA West Region rankings and cracked No. 25 of the D2SIDA National Poll. Although it was snapped on Saturday, the Saints’ five-game win streak to begin the season was their longest since 2004-05.
• Saint Martin’s will host the Alaska schools this week, starting with a huge prove-it game against No. 8/1 Alaska Anchorage on Thursday before welcoming Alaska on Saturday.

SEATTLE PACIFIC
• Seattle Pacific lost twice in Ellensburg, falling to MSU Denver 60-55 on Friday and 70-60 vs. Westminster (Utah) on Saturday.
• Ashley Alter led the way for SPU, averaging 15.5 points per game with a 19-point performance against Westminster. Alter went 5-for-6 from three-point range.
• Natalie Hoff averaged eight points and a team-high 5.5 rebounds over the course of the week for the Falcons, led by 12-point, 6-rebound night against Westminster. Hoff went 6-for-6 from the line in that game and ranks third in the GNAC with a .909 free-throw percentage.
• Guard Anna Eddy made 3 of 6 three-pointers this week and leads the conference in three-point percentage by making 50 percent of her attempts (8-16).
• Seattle Pacific is averaging 59 points and 36.6 rebounds per game. They rank third in the GNAC with a .361 field goal defense.
• The Falcons host Central Washington on Thursday and Northwest Nazarene on Saturday to begin conference play.

SIMON FRASER
• Simon Fraser participated in the Sea Lions Thanksgiving Classic and went 1-1, topping Concordia Irvine 85-75 on Friday before losing to Point Loma 81-75 on Saturday.
• Sophomore guard Jessica Wisotzki put on a clinic in San Diego on her way to claiming the GNAC Player of the Week award. Wisotzki averaged 29.5 points per game and was the conference’s nightly leading scorer on both Friday and Saturday.
• On Friday against CUI, Wisotzki scored 32 points with five rebounds, three assists and two steals. Wisotzki shot 12-for-18 from the field, including 5 of 6 from three-point range. The 32 points is tied for the most in a GNAC game this season. Wisotzki backed it up the following day with 27 points, eight rebounds and two blocks against Point Loma. She shot 11-for-22 from the field and knocked down another two three-pointers. Wisotzki is third in the GNAC with 16.9 points per game. She ranks fourth in the conference with a .425 three-point percentage.
• Senior forward Claudia Hart averaged 11 points per game for SFU, including a 14-point effort against CUI in which she went a perfect 4-for-4 from the field, including two three-pointers, and 4-for-6 from the line. Hart is averaging 7.9 points per game this season.
• While Jessica stole most of the Wisotzki headlines, freshman Sophia Wisotzki averaged 5.5 rebounds and a team-high three assists in the two contests. The younger Wisotzki also ranks ninth in the GNAC with 1.6 steals per game.
• Simon Fraser ranks third in the GNAC in scoring offense with 68.9 points per game. They rank 26th in Division II with 102 total assists.
• Simon Fraser is the only GNAC team to play just once this week, battling No. 13/11 Western Washington on Saturday to kick off their conference schedule.

WESTERN OREGON
• Western Oregon had an 0-2 road trip to Texas, losing 66-56 to Texas A&M Kingsville and 83-59 to Texas A&M-International.
• Tresai McCarver averaged 13 points per game to pace the Wolves for the week. The junior point guard scored 17 points with four rebounds and three assists against Texas A&M-Kingsville before following up with nine points and five assists against A&M-International. McCarver is fifth in the GNAC with four assists per game and is averaging 9.5 points per game.
• Sophomore Meadow Aragon continued her strong start to the year, averaging 9.5 points, five rebounds and 1.5 blocks in the two losses. She recorded six points and three blocks against Texas A&M-Kingsville before scoring 13 points and four steals against Texas A&M-International. Aragon shot 7-for-13 from the field for the week and ranks second in the GNAC in field goal percentage (.620) and blocks per game (3.2).
• Guard Ana McClave had a strong performance against Texas A&M-Kingsville, notching 11 points and eight rebounds, both of which were career-highs for the freshman.
• Western Oregon is second in the conference in both field goal percentage (.443) and field goal defense (.360).
• The Wolves face the Alaska schools at home this week, battling Alaska on Thursday and No. 8/1 Alaska Anchorage on Saturday.

WESTERN WASHINGTON
• Western Washington traveled to Colorado and came away with two wins, topping Regis 60-47 on Thursday and Colorado Christian 58-51 on Saturday.
• Sisters Riley Dykstra and Avery Dykstra each averaged 9.5 points per game to lead the Vikings. Riley had 10 points against Regis and averaged 8.5 rebounds for the week, notching eight against Regis and nine against Colorado Christian. Avery had 14 points against Colorado Christian while shooting a perfect 6-for-6 from the floor.
• Brooke Walling led the way under the basket with 10 rebounds in both matchups. Walling ranks seventh in the GNAC with 7.2 rebounds per game.
• Standout senior guard Emma Duff had a modest week by her lofty standards, but still averaged eight points and five rebounds per game, highlighted by an 11-point effort against Regis. Duff ranks fifth in the GNAC in scoring with 15.8 points per game and third with 8.4 rebounds per game.
• Guard Dani Iwami made two three-pointers as part of a 10-point night against Regis. She ranks second in the conference with a .467 three-point field goal percentage.
• Western Washington rose two spots to No. 11 in the D2SIDA Media Poll and fell one spot to No. 14 in the WBCA Coaches Poll. They remain at No. 2 in the D2SIDA West Region rankings behind Alaska Anchorage.
• The Vikings play a non-conference game against Lincoln (Calif.) on Tuesday before battling Simon Fraser on Saturday in Bellingham.

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