Top 6 Teams Open Gap In GNAC Standings
Northwest Nazarene's Taylor Simmons ranks 14th in Division II in steals per game (2.89) and 24th in total steals (52).
Northwest Nazarene's Taylor Simmons ranks 14th in Division II in steals per game (2.89) and 24th in total steals (52).

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

CRUSADERS FLIP ROAD WOES WITH 3 IN A ROW: After an 0-8 start on the road, Northwest Nazarene has rolled to three straight wins away from Nampa, Idaho, moving into sole possession of sixth place. The Crusaders completed season sweeps of Seattle Pacific and Saint Martin’s last week, giving them a three-game cushion in the standings and pulling them to within two games of fourth place. They own an even 6-6 record in GNAC play and 8-10 overall.

Northwest Nazarene used a strong first half performance against Seattle Pacific, led by Ellie Logan’s 18 points. Taylor Simmons continued to provide all around production, scoring 11 points with four steals, three rebounds and three assists. Danielle Jardine grabbed a team high nine rebounds. The Crusaders went on to win 64-58.

Simmons had another big night on Saturday at Saint Martin’s, leading the team with 24 points, six steals and five rebounds. Simmons is one of the top defensive players in the nation this season, ranking 14th in Division II in steals per game (2.89) and 24th in total steals (52). CoCo Gall had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

The Crusaders have owned one of the top offenses in the GNAC this season. They average 70.9 points per game, second behind Alaska Anchorage. While they attempt the second least amount of three-pointers per game, the Crusaders lead the conference and rank 12th in Division II in free throw percentage (.773). Northwest Nazarene also leads the GNAC in rebounding with 42.6 boards per game.

Northwest Nazarene returns back home after a successful road trip, hosting fifth place Simon Fraser and second place Western Washington with a chance to move up further in the standings.

With eight games remaining in the regular season, the Crusaders have begun to pull away from the rest of the pack for sixth place. With the GNAC Championships a month away, every game becomes more and more important.

STILL ON TOP: Alaska Anchorage remains the hottest and most well rounded team with a 24-1 overall record and 11-1 in GNAC play. The Seawolves were picked to finish first in the preseason coaches poll. They are also ranked among the nation’s best, coming in at No. 2 in the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association/USA Today National Poll, receiving 9 of 24 first place votes, and No. 4 in the D2SIDA Media Poll.

After having their 12-game winning streak to the start the season snapped, the Seawolves have since rolled off another 12 victories. Last week, they were met with one of their toughest challenges of the season in Montana State Billings. The Yellowjackets entered the game on an eight-game winning streak, with their last loss coming against Alaska Anchorage. The Seawolves were up to the task, however, defeating MSUB 85-73. Jenna Buchanan was named the GNAC Player of the Week after leading the Seawolves with a season high 28 points. She was 6 of 9 from three-point range and a perfect 8 of 8 from the free throw line.

Alaska Anchorage has also had the best home court advantage all season, boasting a perfect 13-0 record at the Alaska Airlines Center.

With one of the nation’s top records, the Seawolves are also among the nation’s best statistically. Alaska Anchorage leads Division II in assists (525), assists per game (21), rebounds (1,058), steals (364) and scoring margin (29.8).

UNDER THE RADAR: Central Washington has steadily remained one of the most consistent teams in women’s basketball this season. With the loss of Montana State Billings, the Wildcats own the second longest winning streak in the GNAC at five games.

The Wildcats are led by the top ranked defense in the conference, allowing just 53 points per game. They have held opponents to 34.9 percent shooting from the field and 27.7 percent from three-point range.

Jasmine Parker has been a major presence on the defensive side of the ball, ranking second in the GNAC in blocks per game (2.5) and third in rebounds per game (8.0) and defensive rebounds per game (6.2). Parker has been a two-way player, averaging 11.8 points per game while shooting 54.4 percent from the field.

In all of Division II, the Wildcats defense is ranked fifth. They are also 13th in total blocked shots (106) and 15th in blocked shots per game (4.9).

Central Washington plays two important games this week against Western Washington and Simon Fraser. The Wildcats enter the week sandwiched between their two opponents in the standings.

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.

TOP PERFORMANCES: Jordan Wilson had two 20 point performances for Alaska against the top GNAC teams in Alaska Anchorage and Montana State Billings. She now has nine games with 20 or more points this season…Freshman Mandy Steward had a career high 20 points at Seattle Pacific on Saturday. She helped lead the Wildcats to their first win over SPU in their last eight meetings…Simon Fraser’s Alisha Roberts averaged 15.5 points per game in two wins for Clan last week. She shot 8 of 19 from long range…Kayla Bernsen had back-to-back double doubles for Western Washington, now with six on the season. She averaged 15.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and six blocks in two games… Freshman Rebekah Baugh scored a career high 16 points for Saint Martin’s against Northwest Nazarene.


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.