Seawolves Look To Build On Regular-Season Success
Alaska Anchorage senior guard Safiyyah Yasin is the Seawolves' top scorer, ranking seventh in the conference with 14.1 points per game.
Alaska Anchorage senior guard Safiyyah Yasin is the Seawolves' top scorer, ranking seventh in the conference with 14.1 points per game.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

SEATTLE, Wash. – Alaska Anchorage is no stranger to the postseason.

The Seawolves enter as the No. 1 seed in the 2020 GNAC Women’s Basketball Championships, beginning on Thursday at Seattle Pacific’s Royal Brougham Pavilion. The Seawolves return to the conference tournament for the 10th time in the event’s 10-year history.

The Seawolves enter the postseason as the hottest team in the conference, riding an 11-game winning streak and claiming their sixth straight regular-season title with a 19-1 conference mark (29-2 overall) under eighth-year head coach Ryan McCarthy. The nationally-ranked and fundamentally-sound Seawolves have one of the most balanced teams in Division II, ranking sixth in the nation with a +21.9 scoring margin and third with 389 steals.

Despite winning 30 games and losing just one conference game last season, the Seawolves were picked to finish third in the 2019-20 GNAC Preseason Women’s Basketball Coaches Poll. On a mission to prove the poll wrong, the Seawolves got off to a solid 8-0 start to conference play before finally losing at Western Washington on Jan. 23. The Seawolves haven’t lost a game since then, finishing the regular season averaging 75.7 points per game and leading the conference in scoring defense, allowing just 54.1 points per game.

The Seawolves solidified their spot at the top of the conference standings with a trio of upperclassmen leading the way. Senior guard Yazmeen Goo is averaging 9.9 points, 2.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game and ranks third in the GNAC with a .566 field goal percentage. Fellow senior guard Safiyyah Yasin leads the Seawolves and ranks seventh in the conference in scoring with 14.1 points per game while also ranking third with 2.1 steals per game. Junior forward/center Tennae Voliva is averaging 9.7 points and is fourth in the conference with 7.6 rebounds per game.

Northwest Nazarene, last year’s GNAC Championships winner, is the No. 2 seed after finishing the regular season with a 22-6 overall record and a 17-3 conference mark. The Nighthawks return to the tournament for the fifth straight year with one of the most potent defenses in the nation. The Nighthawks rank third in Division II with 14.1 steals per game and sixth with 23.11 turnovers forced per game.

A formidable duo in senior guards Avery Albrecht and Marina Valles paced the Nighthawks in 2019-20. Albrecht is fourth in the conference with 15 points per game to go with 5.9 rebounds per game and a .492 field goal percentage. Valles is having a phenomenal season as a two-way player, averaging 14.5 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game and ranking eighth in Division II with 3.11 steals per game.

Western Washington is the only GNAC team to take down the Seawolves in 2019-20 and enters the GNAC Championships as the No. 3 seed with a 14-6 conference record (20-8 overall). The Vikings have won four of their last five games and lead the conference in rebounds, assists, blocked shots and field goal percentage.

The Vikings are led by senior center Anna Schwecke, who averages 12.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game while leading the GNAC with a .610 field goal percentage and a .869 free throw percentage. Junior guard Emma Duff averages 11.6 points per game and is the team’s leading rebounder with 6.8 rebounds per game.

Simon Fraser has clinched a berth in the GNAC Championships every year that it has been a member of the conference, returning to the tournament for the 10th time. The Clan claimed the No. 4 seed on a tiebreaker after finishing the regular season at 18-12 overall and 13-7 in conference play.

Junior guard Jessica Jones is the Clan’s top scorer, ranking second in the GNAC with 17.3 points per game while adding 4.2 rebounds per game. Jones leads the conference and ranks 13th in Division II with 3.16 three-point field goals made per game. Point guard Tayler Drynan, the Clan’s only senior, is averaging 9.9 points, 2.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game while junior forward Ozioma Nwabuko anchors the defensive end while averaging 8.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.

Central Washington returns to the tournament as the No. 5 seed after being picked to win it all in the preseason poll. The Wildcats have won seven of their last nine games and enter the tournament riding a four-game win streak, finishing the regular season with a 13-7 conference mark (18-10 overall). The Wildcats lead the GNAC in free throw percentage and three-point field goals made.

The Wildcats have five players who are averaging 10 points per game or better, led by senior guard Alexis Pana, who ranks sixth in the GNAC with 14.3 points per game while also leading the conference with 4.9 assists per game. Senior forward Kaelie Flores is averaging 12.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots per game while sophomore center Samantha Bowman ranks second in the conference with a .609 field goal percentage.

Despite losing four of its final six games of the regular season, Montana State Billings earned the No. 6 seed on a tiebreaker and returns to the tournament after a one-year absence. The Yellowjackets finished the regular season at 14-15 overall and 9-11 in conference play.

Sophomore forward Taryn Shelley is averaging 13.3 points and 8.4 rebounds per game and has registered 11 double-doubles on the season. Senior guard Jeanann Lemelin has been lethal from outside, ranking second in the conference with 2.3 three-pointers made per game and a .406 three-point percentage.

The GNAC Championships will start on Thursday with No. 3 Western Washington and No. 6 Montana State Billings going head-to-head at 5:15 p.m. The winner will face No. 2 Northwest Nazarene at 5:15 p.m. on Friday. No. 4 Simon Fraser and No. 5 Central Washington will play at 7:30 p.m. with the winner advancing to play No. 1 Alaska Anchorage at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. The championship game is scheduled to tip off at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.