Vikings Win Big Twice As Conference Play Opens
Western Washington's Emma Duff (left) drives against Simon Fraser's Jessica Wisotzki (right). Western Washington won the game 82-60.
Western Washington's Emma Duff (left) drives against Simon Fraser's Jessica Wisotzki (right). Western Washington won the game 82-60.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

GNAC fans got a teaser of what the upcoming conference season will look like with six conference games contested this past week. The conference’s two undefeated and nationally-ranked programs, Alaska Anchorage and Western Washington, each got off to winning starts.

Alaska Anchorage, who remains No. 1 in the D2SIDA Media Poll and rose to No. 7 in the WBCA Coaches Poll, won a nationally-ranked showdown with then-No. 25 Saint Martin’s, defeating the Saints 66-58 in Lacey.

Western Washington dismantled Lincoln (Calif.) on Thursday by an 89-26 score on a night where seven Vikings scored in double figures. The Vikings didn’t slow down in their GNAC opener, defeating Simon Fraser on Saturday by 22 points in an 82-60 rout. The Vikings cracked the Top 10 of the D2SIDA Media Poll, rising two spots to No. 9, while reaching No. 11 in the Coaches Poll.

Behind those two standouts, the pack looks to be crowded as four teams went 1-1 in their opening GNAC games. Montana State Billings provided the most thrilling entertainment of the week, scoring 31 points in the fourth quarter to erase an 11-point deficit and shock Northwest Nazarene 71-67. GNAC Player of the Week Taryn Shelley scored 22 points in that game, shooting 9 of 17 from the field and 3 of 4 from three-point range with six rebounds, before scoring 21 points in MSUB’s Saturday loss to Central Washington.

Despite the Yellowjackets comeback and Shelley’s consistent excellence, NNU’s Nyalam Thabach stole the show on Thursday, putting up a 25-point, 11-rebound double-double. Statistical excellence in losses was a theme of the week, with the Seattle Pacific duo of Ashley Alter and Natalie Hoff combining for 37 points and 22 rebounds when their entire team only had 54 points and 33 rebounds in a loss to NNU on Saturday.

Looking ahead, there is one GNAC match-up this week as Central Washington travels to face Northwest Nazarene, but all other conference games will have to wait until December 30th.

Until then, some teams are taking the opportunity to face some non-conference in-state rivals with MSUB taking on Division I Montana State in an exhibition on Thursday before meeting crosstown rivals Rocky Mountain for a clash on Saturday, and Saint Martin’s battling fellow Olympia institution Evergreen State on Saturday. Seattle Pacific will be in California for a two-game road series against Stanislaus State and Cal State East Bay.


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Taryn Shelley
Montana State Billings
F • 6-3 • Sr. • Shoreline, Wash.
Shelley averaged a consistent 21.5 points per game, helping Montana State Billings to a 1-1 week. She opened the week by scoring 22 points on 9 of 17 from the field and 3 of 4 from three-point range with six rebounds in Thursday’s 71-67 come-from-behind win over Northwest Nazarene. She then scored 21 points in Saturday’s 79-68 loss to Central Washington, connecting on 8 of 14 from the field. Shelley had two blocks in each game and finished the week shooting 54.8 percent from the field and 75 percent from the three-point line.

Also Nominated: Nicole Pinkney (UAA), Nyalam Thabach (NNU), Rian Clear (SMU), Emma Duff (WWU)


• Alaska did not play this past week as each of their two scheduled games were postponed. Over Thanksgiving weekend at their own Mt. McKinley Bank North Star Invitational, they lost 77-69 to then-No. 15 Tampa on Nov. 25, 76-61 to Northwood on Nov. 26 and 87-62 to Southern Nazarene on Nov. 27.
• 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 10 in minutes per game.
• Riemers led the way for the Nanooks over Thanksgiving, averaging 14.7 points, 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 Thanksgiving games. She leads the GNAC in both assists and steals per game. Perez-Mendoza recorded five steals against both Tampa and Northwood.
• Alaska ranks second in the GNAC in steals per game (10.0) and third in assists per game (15.6).
• Alaska does not have a scheduled game until GNAC play resumes on December 30.

• Alaska Anchorage went on the road to defeat then-No. 25 Saint Martin’s 66-58 on Thursday before their Saturday game against Western Oregon was postponed.
• Junior guard Nicole Pickney led the way against Saint Martin’s with 15 points on 5 of 9 shooting, including 3 of 3 on three-pointers. Pickney is averaging a team-high 10.8 points per game, ranks second in the conference with 4.3 assists per game and ranks sixth in the GNAC with a .400 three-point percentage.
Tennae Voliva recorded an 11-point, 11-rebound double-double against the Saints, including six offensive boards. Voliva ranks third in the GNAC with 3.2 offensive rebounds per game and second with 2.5 steals per game.
• As a team, UAA recorded 20 steals against Saint Martin’s, a single-game high by a GNAC team this season. Seven players had multiple steals, led by Pickney, Voliva and Ra’Anna Bey with three apiece. The Seawolves lead the GNAC and rank 20th in Division II with 12.8 steals per game.
• The Seawolves lead the GNAC in both scoring offense (73.8 points per game) and scoring defense (52.3 points per game), and their scoring margin of +21.5 ranks 10th in Division II.
• For the fourth straight week, the D2SIDA Media Poll rates Alaska Anchorage as the No. 1 team in the country. The Seawolves moved up one spot to No. 7 in the WBCA Coaches Poll.
• The Seawolves do not play this week. They will take the court next from Hawaii on December 14 against Hawaii Pacific.

• Central Washington opened conference play at 1-1, taking a 69-65 loss to Seattle Pacific on Thursday before beating Montana State Billings 79-68 on Saturday.
• The Wildcats had to contend without Samantha Bowman, the junior center who has been one of the most formidable inside forces in Division II so far this year. Bowman ranks second in Division II with 3.5 blocks per game and third nationally with 14.7 rebounds per game.
• In her stead, senior forward Kassidy Malcolm stepped up for a monster week, leading CWU with 21 points and eight rebounds per game. Malcolm recorded a 23-point, 11-rebound double-double in Thursday’s loss to SPU before adding 19 points against MSUB. Malcolm ranks fourth in the GNAC with 16.5 points per game but is only the third-leading scorer on this Wildcats squad. Bowman is third in the GNAC with 16.8 points per game, while Kizzah Maltezo ranks second with 18.3 points per game.
• Maltezo averaged 17.5 points and three assists per game this week. She led all scorers with 22 points against Montana State Billings, which included an 11-for-11 performance from the free-throw line. Maltezo went 3-for-12 from three-point range for the week. She has been firing from outside all year, ranking seventh in Division II with 69 three-pointers attempted. She is second in the GNAC with 2.6 made three-pointers per game.
• Central Washington ranks third in the conference in scoring offense with 70.8
points per game. They have been shooting the ball well, ranking second in the conference in both three-point percentage (.336) and free-throw percentage (.754).
• The Wildcats remained at No. 9 in the D2SIDA West Region Rankings.
• Central Washington faces Northwest Nazarene in the only GNAC game of the week on Saturday in Nampa.

• Montana State Billings had a 1-1 week, stunning Northwest Nazarene with a come-from-behind 71-67 win on Thursday before falling 79-68 to Central Washington on Saturday.
• Trailing by 11 entering the fourth quarter, the Yellowjackets erupted for 31 points in the final period to catch the Nighthawks in the GNAC opener. Defensively, MSUB forced two turnovers in the final four seconds of the game, including  forcing a five-second violation on an NNU inbounds play with a three-point lead and two seconds to go.
Taryn Shelley averaged 21.5 points per game to take home her second GNAC Player of the Week award of the year. In the win over the Nighthawks, she had a team-high 22 points with six rebounds and two blocks, then scored 21 points in the loss to CWU. She shot 54.8 percent from the field and made six of eight three-point attempts. Shelley ranks ninth in the GNAC in points per game (13.2), seventh in rebounds per game (7.2) and fourth in blocks per game (1.5).
Kortney Nelson had a well-rounded impact, averaging 4.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and three assists over the two games. Danielle Zahn also averaged three assists per game this week and ranks eighth in Division II with 44 total assists.
• With their heavy early-season schedule, the Yellowjackets rank third in Division II with 412 total rebounds and fourth with 164 total assists. Their assist/turnover ratio of 1.14 is 20th in Division II
• Montana State Billings received votes in the D2SIDA West Region poll for the second straight week.
• The Yellowjackets continue to get game reps in, facing Division I Montana State in an exhibition game on Thursday before battling crosstown rival Rocky Mountain on Saturday.

• Northwest Nazarene endured a heartbreaking 71-67 loss to MSUB on Thursday before defeating Seattle Pacific 63-54 on Saturday.
• Although the Nighthawks lost the lead late against MSUB, it was through no fault of Nyalam Thabach. The sophomore forward led all scorers with 25 points and added 11 rebounds for her first double-double of the season. She added 16 points and seven rebounds against SPU. Thabach ranks 10th in the GNAC in both scoring (13.0 points per game) and rebounding (6.8 per game).
Jordan Pinson had a strong week, averaging 13.5 points, three rebounds and three assists per game. Her best game was against Seattle Pacific, in which she scored 15 points, pulled down four rebounds and added three steals. Pinson is averaging 6.4 points per game.
• Freshman forward Teagan Thurman averaged 9.5 points and five rebounds per game, led by 11 points against MSUB. Thurman ranks fourth in the GNAC with 7.9 rebounds per game.
• The Nighthawks average 66.9 points and 39.2 rebounds per game, ranking third in the GNAC in the latter category.
• Northwest Nazarene fell out of the D2SIDA West Region Rankings after being ranked No. 10 last week, but still received votes in the poll.
• The Nighthawks take the court once, hosting Central Washington on Saturday in the only GNAC game being played this week.

• Saint Martin’s got to debut a shiny new Top-25 ranking on their home floor against No. 1 Alaska Anchorage, falling 66-58 to the Seawolves on Thursday. Their second game against Alaska was postponed.
• Freshman Rian Clear put on a show for the home Saints fans, scoring 17 points and eight rebounds in Thursday’s game. Clear shot 7-for-14 from the field, including 3-for-6 from beyond the arc. Clear is tied for sixth in the GNAC with a .400 three-point percentage.
Claire Dingus also performed well against UAA, scoring 14 points and matching Clear with eight rebounds and leading all players with five assists. Dingus shot 10-for-10 from the free-throw line and ranks 26th in Division II with a 90.6 free-throw percentage. Dingus continues to lead the GNAC in scoring with 19 points per game.
• Senior guard Tierney DeDonatis hit four three-pointers out of her eight attempts on her way to a 12-point night. DeDonatis ranks fourth in the GNAC with two made three-pointers per game and ninth with a .378 three-point percentage.
• Saint Martin’s fell two spots to No. 5 in the D2SIDA West Region rankings. They fell out of the Top 25 in the national D2SIDA poll.
• The Saints play once this week, a Saturday afternoon tilt against in-state rivals Evergreen State.

• Seattle Pacific beat Central Washington 69-66 on Thursday before losing 63-54 to Northwest Nazarene on Saturday.
Ashley Alter continues to pace the Falcons in scoring, averaging 16.5 points and 7.5 rebounds over the course of the week, highlighted by a 20-point, 10-rebound double-double in the loss to NNU. Alter is averaging 12.3 points per game.
Natalie Hoff had 10-plus rebounds in both games this week, averaging 11 per game while contributing 12.5 points per game as well. Hoff recorded eight points and 10 rebounds against Central Washington before scoring 17 points with 12 rebounds against Northwest Nazarene. Hoff and Alter combined for 37 of SPU’s 54 team points against the Nighthawks.
Kaprice Boston made four of eight three-pointers this week. Boston and teammate Anna Eddy rank fourth and fifth in the GNAC in three-point percentage at .429 and .417, respectively.
• The Falcons rank third in the GNAC in scoring defense, allowing 60.6 points per game, and are holding opponents to 35.9 percent shooting.
• Seattle Pacific is the only GNAC team this week traveling out of state for a non-conference game. The Falcons are taking a two-game road trip to California, taking on Stanislaus State on Thursday and Cal State East Bay on Saturday.

• In their only game of the week, SFU endured a 82-60 loss to No. 13/11 Western Washington on Saturday in the GNAC opener for both teams.
Jessica Wisotzki has likely been the breakout star of the season so far in the GNAC, and while her totals were more modest compared to her 25-point games of weeks past, she still paced Simon Fraser with 13 points of 5 of 15 shooting to go with four rebounds. Wisotzki is fifth in the league in scoring at 16.3 points per game.
• Forward Claudia Hart and guard Emma Kramer had 10 points apiece for SFU. Kramer did all of her work from the field on 5-for-7 shooting while Hart got to the line and made 5 of 6 free throws.
• Junior guard Sophie Klassen came off the bench to score eight points and grab a team-high six rebounds. Klassen is averaging 5.1 points and five rebounds per game.
• Simon Fraser ranks 20th in Division II with 207 three-pointers attempted. They average 67.9 points and 36.2 rebounds per game, and rank third in the GNAC with 8.4 steals per contest.
• Simon Fraser does not play this week. They next take the court on December 17 when they host fellow Canadian school Capilano.

• Western Oregon did not play as both of their scheduled contests against the Alaska schools were postponed. Over Thanksgiving, the Wolves 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.
• 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. She leads the GNAC in field goal percentage (.620) and ranks second in 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.
• The Wolves will host Corban on Saturday in their only scheduled action of the week.

• Western Washington opened the GNAC season in style with a 22-point victory over Simon Fraser, topping SFU 82-60 on Saturday. Earlier in the week, the Vikings blew out Lincoln (Calif.), a first-year program, 89-26.
• The 63-point margin of victory over Lincoln is the largest in the GNAC this season. That game also set single-game highs for assists (25) and opponent lows for points and field goals made (10). The Vikings held the Oaklanders to 18 percent shooting and without a three-pointer in nine attempts.
Emma Duff averaged 13.5 points per game to lead WWU. She had 13 points and six rebounds against Lincoln before scoring 14 points with nine rebounds against Simon Fraser.
• Freshman Truitt Reilly had the biggest game of her young career with an 11-point, 10-rebound double-double against Lincoln. Gracie Castaneda led all scorers with 15 against the Oaklanders, but a balanced Vikings attack saw seven players reach double figures.
• Guard Avery Dykstra led the way against Simon Fraser with 16 points and four assists. Dykstra shot 6-for-8 from the field. She ranks second in the GNAC with a .611 field goal percentage. Dani Iwami had a full stat line against SFU, with 15 points, five assists, four rebounds and four steals. Iwami went 3-for-4 from three-point range. She leads the conference with a .526 three-point percentage (10-19).
• Western Washington rose two spots to No. 9 in the D2SIDA Media Poll and three spots to No. 11 in the WBCA Coaches Poll. They remain at No. 2 in the D2SIDA West Region rankings behind Alaska Anchorage.
• The Vikings do not play until December 14th against the Academy of Art.