Alaska Anchorage Opens Defense of GNAC Title Tonight
Alysa Horn (23) averaged 15.2 points and 9.1 rebounds this season to lead Seawolves to  17-9 record.
Alysa Horn (23) averaged 15.2 points and 9.1 rebounds this season to lead Seawolves to 17-9 record.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

LACEY, Wash. - Two-time defending champion Alaska Anchorage opens defense of its crown tonight as the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Championships tip off at Marcus Pavilion of the campus of Saint Martin's University.

The Seawolves have a 5-0 record in the two previous tournaments, defeating Western Washington 68-67 in the championship game as the No. 2 seed in 2011 and the Vikings 67-52 as the No. 1 seed last year at Lacey.

UAA is the No. 4 seed this time around and will play fifth-seed Northwest Nazarene in tonight's second game at 7:30 p.m.  A win would set up another matchup with the Vikings Friday at 2:15 p.m. in the semifinals. 

WWU won the two regular-season contests this winter between the two teams - 70-60 at Anchorage on Jan. 3 and 83-72 at Bellingham on Feb. 2. 

Since the latter loss, the Seawolves have reeled off seven consecutive wins.  Western Washington comes in with a six-game win streak.

Northwest Nazarene enters tonight's game with a 1-2 tournament record, reaching the semifinals last year after losing in the opening round in 2011. The Crusaders split their regular-season games with UAA, winning 76-49 at Anchorage on Jan. 17 before losing 94-82 at Nampa on Feb. 16.

Tonight's first game at 5:15 p.m. will feature third-seed Montana State Billings against sixth-seed Seattle Pacific. The winner will play second-seed Simon Fraser in Friday's noon semifinal contest. 

Both teams have 1-2 tournament records, reaching the semifinals two years ago and then losing in the quarterfinals last season. MSUB swept the regular-season series winning 69-68 at Billings in December and 76-63 at Nampa last Thursday.

WOMEN (Mar. 6-9 at Lacey): Wednesday - #3 MSUB Billings (17-9) vs. #6 Seattle Pacific (16-10), 5:15 p.m.; #4 Alaska Anchorage (17-9) vs. #5 Northwest Nazarene (19-7), 7:30 p.m.  Friday – 3/6 winner vs. #2 Simon Fraser (22-4), noon; #4/5 winner vs. #1 Western Washington (23-3), 2:15 p.m.  Saturday – Championship game at 5:15 p.m. (ROOT Sports).

MEN (Mar. 7-9 at Lacey): Thursday - #6 Central Washington (14-12) vs. #3 Alaska Anchorage (18-8), 5:15 p.m.; #5 Montana State Billings (16-13) vs. #4 Alaska Fairbanks (15-11), 7:30 p.m.  Friday – 3/6 winner vs. Seattle Pacific (23-3), 5:15 p.m.; 4/5 winner vs. Western Washington (26-1), 7:30 p.m.  Saturday – Championship game at 7:30 p.m. (Root Sports).

Western Washington Still First in West Regional Poll

Western Washington is the No. 1 ranked team in the final NCAA Division II West Regional poll of the season.

Simon Fraser, Montana State Billings and Northwest Nazarene are ranked second, eighth and ninth, respectively.

Following this week's play, the NCAA will determine which five at-large teams will join the GNAC, CCAA and PacWest champions in next week's regional tournament.  That announcement will be made Sunday evening.

Women – 1. Western Washington (21-3); 2. Simon Fraser (21-4); 3 . Chico State (22-4); 4. Cal State Monterey Bay (18-7); 5. Grand Canyon (21-7); 6. UC San Diego (19-10); 7. Hawaii Pacific (18-6); 8. Montana State Billings (16-9); 9. Northwest Nazarene  (16-7); 10. Academy of Art (20-8).