Winning Streaks Create Separation In Standings
Simon Fraser's hot offense has led to a three-game winning streak and put the Clan in fourth place in the GNAC.
Simon Fraser's hot offense has led to a three-game winning streak and put the Clan in fourth place in the GNAC.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

WHO’S NUMBER ONE: With a 20-1 overall record and 7-1 in GNAC play, Alaska Anchorage moved up to the No. 1 spot in the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association/USA Today National Poll, receiving 11 of 21 first place votes. The Seawolves have ranked no lower than No. 7 in the poll and were at No. 2 the past two weeks. Alaska Anchorage is ranked No. 1 in the WBCA poll for the ninth week all-time, having been in this spot for four weeks last season and four weeks in 2008-09.

After having their 12-game winning streak to the start the season snapped, the Seawolves have rolled off eight more wins. They went on the road last week, defeating Central Washington 66-42 on Thursday and Northwest Nazarene 95-71. The Crusaders were unbeaten at home before matching up with the Seawolves.

Alaska Anchorage also ranked No. 4 in the D2SIDA National Poll and are No. 1 in the D2SIDA West Region Poll. The Seawolves have earned the rankings with their record and stastically, leading all of Division II in multiple categories. The Seawolves are No. 1 in assists (433), scoring margin (30.8), turnovers forced (26.05) and steals (313). They are also ranked second in, three-point field goals made (189), steals per game (14.9), assists per game (21.1) and rebounds (883).

The Seawolves have the reigning GNAC Defensive Player of the Year Kiki Robertson and the Preseason Player of the Year Megan Mullings to headline their roster. Add in the three-point shooting of Jenna Buchanan and the scoring depth from Jessica Madison and Keiahnna Engel and the Seawolves can be productive in multiple areas. The overall depth of the team may be its strongest asset, with 11 players averaging over 10 minutes played per game. The team owns one of the best home advantages, remaining undefeated with an 11-0 record in the Alaska Airlines Center.

NOT TO BE OVERLOOKED: While Alaska Anchorage’s climb to No. 1 in Division II has brought attention to the GNAC, the play of Western Washington and Montana State Billings has been as impressive.

The Vikings remain the only team to defeat Alaska Anchorage this season, proving they can stay with anyone when at the top of their game. Western Washington’s success is not a surprise to anyone in the conference, picked in the preseason coaches poll to finish second place.

Taylor Peacocke leads the team in scoring with 15.1 points per game. She has scored double digit points in every game this season for the Vikings, proving to be one of the most consistent scorers in the conference. Kayla Bernsen leads the team with 7.2 rebounds per game and 32 blocks. Tia Briggs has added a third scorer to the team, averaging 10.8 points per game and shooting 55.8 percent from the field, good for fourth in the GNAC. Bernsen’s 58.1 shooting percentage is second.

Montana State Billings continues to pile up the wins. The Yellowjackets have won five in a row, defeating Concordia and Western Oregon on the road last week. They own matching 7-1 records with WWU and UAA, with an 11-5 record overall. Alisha Breen ranks third in the GNAC with 16.9 points per game and Janiel Olson is fourth in rebounding with 8.3 boards per contest.

The Vikings and Yellowjackets will get an opportunity to face each other this week, playing Thursday in Billings, Mont. Both teams will also host Simon Fraser. The Yellowjackets welcome the Clan on Saturday while Western Washington hosts them on Tuesday to start the week in the GNAC.

CLAN CONTINUE ASCENT OF CONFERENCE: Simon Fraser has quietly climbed into fourth place in the GNAC standings with a 5-3 record after defeating Seattle Pacific and Saint Martin’s on the road last week. The Clan have won three straight games, defeating its opponents by an average of 25.33 points per game. The offense has exploded in conference play, averaging 74.5 points, ranked second in the GNAC only behind Alaska Anchorage.

The emergence of Elisa Homer and Ellen Kett offensively has sparked the team’s production. Homer was named the GNAC Women’s Basketball Player of the Week after averaging 23.5 points in two games last week, scoring a season-high 32 against Saint Martin’s. She leads the GNAC in three-point field goals made per game (3.9) and is fourth in scoring (16.6). Kett has played arguably the best in the GNAC at the point guard position this season, leading the conference in assists per game (6.2) and ranked second in assist/turnover ratio (1.9). Kett has been dangerous when left alone, leading all of Division II in three-point field goal percentage (.574).

The Clan entered the season with one preseason all-conference selection in Meg Wilson, who suffered an injury early in the year and has played in just two games. After finishing non-conference play with a 2-3 record and trying to find Wilson’s production elsewhere, Simon Fraser has found its way. Rachel Fradgley and Samantha Beauchamp have dominated the boards for the Clan, while Alisha Roberts has added 11.2 points per game. Fradgley’s 8.6 rebounds per game are ranked second in the GNAC.

Simon Fraser will face two of the conference’s best this week, starting with Western Washington on Tuesday at 7 p.m. They then travel to Montana State Billings on Saturday.

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 is this week 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.

TOP PERFORMANCES: Ali Nelke helped lead Western Oregon to a 1-1 split last week, putting up eight points and eight rebounds against Concordia… Saint Martin’s Megan Wiedeman recorded 23 total points and 21 rebounds in two games last week… Taylor Peacock scored 18 points against Saint Martin’s followed by 19 points in an overtime victory over Seattle Pacific for Western Washington… Alaska Anchorage’s Jenna Buchanan totaled 35 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and three steals, shooting 14-22 from the field in two games last week.


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.


Elisa Homer (Simon Fraser, G, 5-10, So., North Vancouver, B.C. - Handsworth): Homer averaged 23.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in two wins for the Clan, hitting 14 of 32 from the field and 12 of 27 from three-point range. She scored 15 points to go along with four rebounds in SFU’s 76-47 road win over Seattle Pacific on Thursday. In Saturday’s 84-54 win at Saint Martin’s Homer poured in 32 points on 10 of 21 from the field. She went 9 of 18 from three-point range, tying the GNAC single game record for three-pointers made. Also Nominated: Alisha Breen (Montana State Billings), Jenna Buchanan (Alaska Anchorage), Ellie Logan (Northwest Nazarene), Ali Nelke (Western Oregon), Taylor Peacocke (Western Washington), Megan Wiedeman (Saint Martin’s).