Overtime Buzzer-Beater Puts SPU In Third
Ashley Alter scored seven of her team's 12 points in overtime against Simon Fraser, including the game-winner with 0.7 seconds left.
Ashley Alter scored seven of her team's 12 points in overtime against Simon Fraser, including the game-winner with 0.7 seconds left.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Seattle Pacific has settled into third place in the conference standings behind the GNAC’s two nationally-ranked powers, Western Washington and Alaska Anchorage. It’s a somewhat surprising place to be for a team picked by the coaches to finish eighth in the GNAC before the season, but SPU has been proving their mental strength and clutch ability all season long.

Four of the Falcons’ 14 games have been decided by exactly two points, including Thursday’s 66-64 overtime win over Simon Fraser in which Ashley Alter drilled a go-ahead jumper with 0.6 seconds remaining. Alter scored seven of her team’s 12 points in the extra period and had 18 points in the game, while Kaprice Boston and Natalie Hoff had 17 apiece. On the final play, Boston missed a contested layup, but the rebound pin-balled to Alter, who had been standing away from the play but didn’t hesitate to catch and shoot for the game-winner.  

Elsewhere around the league, Western Oregon provided the biggest upset of the conference season thus far by taking down a Saint Martin’s team that entered the game 9-2 and ranked sixth in the D2SIDA West Region rankings. Despite playing without their leading scorer, rebounder and shot-blocker Meadow Aragon, the Wolves teamed up to shut down the Saints defensively, holding them to just 13 points in the first half and making enough plays down the stretch and at the free-throw line to hold off a comeback attempt and win 68-64.

Simon Fraser forward and Preseason Player of the Year Jessica Jones showed she had no rust after making her season debut on New Year’s Day. Jones averaged 24 points in her second and third games back, highlighted by a 27-point outing against MSUB on Saturday in which she hit seven three-pointers.

Northwest Nazarene proved their mettle as a conference and regional contender by beating Alaska 81-75 and hanging tough with national No. 9 Alaska Anchorage. The Nighthawks lost to UAA 76-72, but the game featured 20 lead changes and NNU held the lead with as little as three minutes long. This week may have also been the coming-out party for standout freshman Teagan Thurman, who took home the GNAC Player of the Week award after averaging 21 points and nine rebounds over the two games, including a 24 point, 11 rebound double-double against Alaska Anchorage.  

Although they didn’t play last week, Western Washington is now a consensus top-five team, checking in at No. 2 in the D2SIDA Media Poll and No. 5 in the WBCA Coaches Poll. The Vikings lead the West Region rankings, but host two teams who also made those rankings this week, with Central Washington coming to Bellingham on Thursday and Northwest Nazarene arriving on Saturday. The Saturday nightcap will feature an in-state rivalry clash between Alaska and Alaska Anchorage.


Teagan Thurman
Northwest Nazarene
F • 6-1 • Fr. • Tehachapi, Calif.
Thurman averaged 21 points, nine rebounds, two assists and two steals per game in Northwest Nazarene’s 1-1 week. She finished with 18 points and seven rebounds in Thursday’s 81-75 win over Alaska, connecting on 9 of 16 from the field. Thurman added a double-double of 24 points and 11 rebounds in Saturday’s 76-72 loss to Alaska Anchorage. She made 10 of 17 from the field and 2 of 4 from three-point range to go with three assists, two steals and a block.

Also Nominated:
Pearle Green (Alaska), Nicole Pinkney (Alaska Anchorage), Taryn Shelley (Montana State Billings), Rian Clear (Saint Martin’s), Jessica Jones (Simon Fraser), Tresai McCarver (Western Oregon)


• Alaska suffered a pair of road losses early in the week to regionally-ranked opponents, falling 51-43 to Saint Martin’s on Tuesday and 81-75 to Northwest Nazarene on Thursday. After winning their opening game of the season, the Nanooks have lost seven straight.
• Freshman Pearle Green had a standout week, averaging 21.5 points and 4.5 steals per game in the two losses. Green led all scorers in the Saint Martin’s game with 17 points while adding five steals, three rebounds and a block. Against Northwest Nazarene, Green led all scorers again with a career-high 26 points, this time going 8 of 16 from the floor and 4 of 9 from three-point range along with four steals and a rebound.
• Green ranks sixth in the GNAC in scoring with 15.4 points per game. She leads the conference and ranks 11th in Division II with three three-pointers made per game, and her 2.5 steals per game rank second in the GNAC behind teammate Paola Perez-Mendoza (2.8 per game).  
Destiny Riemers and Olivia Kraska both averaged eight rebounds per game for the week. After recording four points and seven rebounds against Saint Martin’s, Riemers made a well-rounded impact against Northwest Nazarene, recording 11 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Riemers is averaging 12.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. Kraska’s week was highlighted by 11 rebounds against Saint Martin’s.
• The Nanooks rank second in the GNAC in steals per game (10.1) and three-point defense (holding opponents to 25 percent). Saint Martin’s and NNU combined to shoot only 19 percent from three (9-47) against Alaska this week.
• Alaska will face Western Oregon on Tuesday to complete an eight-day road trip. They will then step inside the Alaska Airlines Center for a rivalry clash with No. 9 Alaska Anchorage on Saturday night.

• Alaska Anchorage played for the first time since December 19 when they defeated Northwest Nazarene 76-72 on Saturday in a match-up of regionally-ranked teams. The Seawolves’ other scheduled game against Central Washington on Monday was postponed.
• Junior guard Nicole Pinckney scored a career-high 21 points on 7 of 13 shooting, including 5 of 10 from beyond the arc. Pinckney is averaging a team-high 10.7 points per game. She is fourth in the GNAC with 3.7 assists per game and third with a .429 three-point percentage.
Sala Langi also had a big performance against the Nighthawks. The senior recorded 16 points, three rebounds and a career-high seven assists. Langi also had a career-high six steals, also tying this season’s GNAC single-game high.
• Guard Jahnna Hajdukovich just missed a double-double with 11 points and a career-high nine rebounds. Hajdukovich’s night included shooting 3 of 8 from three-point range. She ranks fourth in the GNAC with 1.9 made three-pointers per game.
• Alaska Anchorage leads the conference in points (73.1), assists (16.6) and steals per game (12.2), as well as turnover margin (+8.80) while ranking second in scoring defense (allowing 55.8 points per game), scoring margin (+17.3) and assist/turnover ratio (1.1).
• Alaska Anchorage is ranked ninth in the WBCA Coaches Poll and the D2SIDA Media Poll. They remain at No. 2 in the D2SIDA West Region rankings. It is UAA’s first week in the top ten of both polls since December 14.
• The Seawolves have a mini-bye until Saturday when they host in-state rival Alaska before welcoming Montana State Billings on Monday.

• Central Washington did not play last week, as both of its scheduled games against the Alaska schools were postponed. The Wildcats last played on December 30, recording a 89-63 non-conference win over Whitworth.
• The 89 points are the fourth-most by a GNAC team this season. The Wildcats made 14 three-pointers, tied for this year’s second-highest single-game total in the GNAC.
Kizzah Maltezo led the way in the Whitworth game with 26 points to go with five assists, two steals and a rebound. The senior guard turned in by far her most efficient performance of the season, shooting 10 of 14 from the field, including 6 of 9 from three-point range. Maltezo is the GNAC’s current leading scorer at 18.8 points per game.
• Senior forward Kassidy Malcolm tallied 22 points on 8 of 13 shooting along with a team-high six rebounds. Malcolm was 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, and her .456 three-point percentage leads the GNAC and ranks 19th in Division II. She ranks fifth in the conference in scoring (16.9 points per game) and ninth in rebounding (6.9 per game).
Samantha Bowman only played 14 minutes, but still managed to shoot a perfect 6-for-6 from the field for 12 points while grabbing five rebounds and blocking three shots. Bowman leads Division II in rebounds per game (15.5) and ranks fourth in blocks per game (3.1). Bowman’s 17.7 points per game are second-best in the GNAC.
• The Wildcats remained at No. 10 in the D2SIDA West Region rankings. They rank second in the conference in free-throw percentage (.753), three-point percentage (.338) and blocks per game (3.5).
• Central Washington faces a tough test coming off its two-week layoff, with a road match-up against No. 5/2 Western Washington looming on Thursday. The Wildcats’ Saturday game against Simon Fraser has been postponed.

• Montana State Billings climbed above .500 in both GNAC play and overall play with a 78-66 home win over Simon Fraser on Saturday. The Yellowjackets’ scheduled Thursday game against Western Washington was postponed.
Taryn Shelley led the way with 19 points and eight rebounds for MSUB. Shelley shot 9 of 18 from the field and also contributed two assists and two blocks. She ranks eighth in the GNAC in both scoring (13.7 points per game) and rebounding (7.1 per game).
Shayla Montague wasn’t far behind Shelley in terms of production. The junior guard and Billings native turned in another strong performance at Alterowitz Gymnasium with 16 points, eight rebounds, four assists and a steal. Montague made 4 of 8 three-point attempts and makes 1.8 threes per game, tied for sixth in the GNAC.
Skylar Patton came off the bench for arguably her best game as a Yellowjacket. The senior junior college transfer had 11 points on 4 of 7 shooting and a career-high eight assists with zero turnovers in a season-high 25 minutes. Patton is averaging 3.5 points and 1.7 assists per game.
• The Yellowjackets lead the GNAC and rank 19th in Division II with a 1.14 assist/turnover ratio. They also lead the GNAC in free-throw percentage (.761) and rank second in the conference with a +7.2 rebound margin.
• Montana State Billings received votes in the D2SIDA West Region poll for the sixth straight week.
• The Yellowjackets travel to Western Oregon on Thursday and Saint Martin’s on Saturday.

• Northwest Nazarene had a 1-1 week, defeating Alaska 81-75 on Thursday before hanging tough with No. 9 Alaska Anchorage, losing 76-72 in a game that featured 20 lead changes.
• Freshman forward Teagan Thurman was borderline unstoppable for NNU, averaging 21 points and nine rebounds over the two games on her way to winning her first GNAC Player of the Week award. Thurman tallied 18 points on 9 of 16 shooting and seven rebounds against Alaska before leading all scorers against UAA with 24 points and pulling down 11 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season. Thurman ranks second in the GNAC with 9.5 rebounds per game and is tenth in scoring with 13.2 points per game.
Nyalam Thabach averaged 12.5 points and nine rebounds for the week, highlighted by a monster double-double of 15 points and 14 rebounds against UAF. Thabach is averaging 12.3 points per game this season and ranks sixth in the GNAC with 7.5 rebounds per game.
• Guard Jordan Pinson exploded offensively, averaging 17.5 points and five assists per game. She scored 18 points with three assists against Alaska before tallying 17 points and seven assists against the Seawolves. Pinson shot 11 of 21 from the field for the week, including 5 of 9 from deep. She ranks 10th in the GNAC with 3.2 assists per game and is sixth in three-point percentage (.400).
• Northwest Nazarene fell one spot to No. 9 in the D2SIDA West Region rankings. The Nighthawks average 71.1 points and a GNAC-leading 42.6 rebounds per game.
• The Nighthawks’ Thursday game against Simon Fraser has been postponed. On Saturday, NNU will travel to Bellingham to face No. 5/2 Western Washington.

• Saint Martin’s had a disappointing 1-1 week, grinding out a defensive 51-45 win over Alaska on Tuesday before losing at Western Oregon 68-64 on Saturday.
 • Rian Clear was the Saints’ best player over the week, averaging 14.5 points and nine rebounds in the two games. Clear had 11 points, eight rebounds and three steals against UAF and had a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds against WOU. Clear played 36 minutes in both contests and is ninth in the conference with 29.8 minutes per game. She is also ninth in scoring with 13.2 points per game.
Claire Dingus averaged 12 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, highlighted by 15 points and eight rebounds against Alaska. She ranks fourth in the GNAC in both scoring (17.4 points per game) and rebounding (7.5 per game).  
• Against Western Oregon, the Saints had only 13 points at halftime and trailed by 16 at the break, but made a furious second-half charge behind Tierney DeDonatis. The senior point guard had a season-high 21 points against Western Oregon on 8 of 18 shooting. She scored 19 of her 21 points in a second half where the Saints scored 51.
• Saint Martin’s is averaging 65.8 points and 36.8 rebounds per game. They have the fourth-best scoring defense in the conference, holding opponents to 59.2 points per game, and the third-best field goal defense, with opponents shooting 34.9 percent.
• The Saints dropped from No. 6 into a tie for No. 7 in the D2SIDA West Region rankings. After only receiving votes in the first poll, the Saints had been ranked in the top six for six consecutive weeks.
• Saint Martin’s was scheduled to play Seattle Pacific on Thursday, but that game has been postponed. They will host MSUB on Saturday.

Ashley Alter hit a go-ahead jumper with 0.7 seconds remaining to lift SPU to a 66-64 win over Simon Fraser on Thursday. The Falcons’ scheduled Saturday game against nationally-ranked Western Washington was postponed.
• The Falcons erased a seven-point halftime deficit on their home floor and tied it with 18 seconds left in regulation on a Kaprice Boston jump shot. In the extra period, SPU held for the last shot, but Boston missed a contested layup with three seconds left. The rebound pin-balled around and was deflected to Alter, who immediately fired from the foul line on the right-hand side and sunk the buzzer-beating shot.
• Alter had a team-high 18 points and nine rebounds for the game. She especially came alive in overtime with seven of her team’s 12 points, as well as a rebound that allowed SPU to get the final possession. She is averaging 12.1 points per game for the season.
• Forward Natalie Hoff also had a strong game with 17 points and nine rebounds. Hoff ranks seventh in the GNAC with 7.2 rebounds per game. Boston also had 17 points, a career-high, while Abril Rexach Roure had a productive outing with seven points, five rebounds, eight assists and two steals.
• Seattle Pacific has the third-best scoring defense in the GNAC, holding opponents to 58.9 points per game. Opponents are shooting only 34 percent from the field against SPU on the year, second-best in the GNAC. When their opponent misses a shot, the Falcons are cleaning the glass: their 29.7 defensive rebounds per game lead the GNAC and rank 22nd in Division II
• Both of SPU’s scheduled games this week against Saint Martin’s and Western Oregon have been postponed due to health and safety protocols. 

• Simon Fraser endured two losses this week, dropping an overtime heartbreaker 66-64 to Seattle Pacific on Thursday before losing to MSUB 78-66 on Saturday.
• Despite the 0-2 week, the silver lining for SFU is the performance of Jessica Jones. After scoring 12 points in her New Year’s Day season debut, Jones had two 20-plus point this week and proved she has knocked off all the rust from her absence. Jones scored 21 points against SPU before dropping 27 points with six rebounds and four assists against MSUB, including seven three-pointers. Jones scored 20 of her 27 points in the first quarter of the game against the Yellowjackets.
• Freshman forward Gemma Cutler averaged a consistent 13.5 points and eight rebounds over the two losses.  Cutler had 15 points and seven rebounds against SPU before tallying 12 points and a career-high nine boards against MSUB. Cutler made 13 of 27 from the field for the week. On the season, she’s made 51 of 87 for a .586 field goal percentage that ranks fourth in the GNAC.
Claudia Hart averaged 11 points and seven rebounds per game this week, led by a stellar performance against Seattle Pacific in which she had 15 points and eight rebounds along with three assists, two steals and two blocks.
• Simon Fraser has shown a propensity to get into shootouts, both scoring (72.0) and allowing (69.5) the second-most points per game in the GNAC. They fire away from behind the arc, ranking second in the GNAC in three-pointers attempted (322), made (103) and made per game (7.9).
• Both of SFU’s scheduled games this week against Northwest Nazarene and Central Washington have been postponed due to health and safety protocols.

• Western Oregon scored the biggest upset of the conference season thus far, topping Saint Martin’s 68-64. The Saints entered the game 9-2 and ranked No. 6 in the D2SIDA West Region rankings.
• The wire-to-wire victory against a regionally-ranked opponent led the Wolves to be named the GNAC Team of the Week.
• The Wolves defense held Saint Martin’s to just 13 points on 17 percent shooting in the first half, and while the Saints put together a furious second-half comeback bid, Western Oregon held them off thanks to Tresai McCarver. McCarver had 18 points and nine rebounds, both season-highs, as well as seven assists to flirt with a triple-double. McCarver went 11-for-13 from the free-throw line, a GNAC single-game high this season in both makes and attempts. McCarver is second in the GNAC with 4.3 assists per game.
• Sophomore center Alexis Wright got the start in the middle and recorded three blocks and five rebounds in just 15 minutes of action. Guard Madisyn Clark splashed home three three-pointers and dished four assists and Cali McClave was a ball magnet with seven rebounds, four steals and a block.
Meadow Aragon did not play against SMU, making the Wolves’ collective defensive effort more impressive, but she has been having a breakout season. Aragon ranks third in the GNAC with 7.7 rebounds per game and second in the GNAC and 15th in Division II with 2.4 blocks per game. Her field goal percentage of .597 (46-77) leads the GNAC and ranks 17th in Division II.
• Western Oregon is third in the GNAC in rebounding (40.4 per game) and first in blocks (5.5 per game).
• The Wolves will face Alaska on Tuesday in a make-up game before hosting MSUB on Thursday. A scheduled Saturday game against Seattle Pacific has been postponed. 

• Western Washington did not play last week, as both of its scheduled games against MSUB and Seattle Pacific were postponed. The Vikings last played on December 30, defeating Western Oregon 70-52 to cement a 10-0 start.
Emma Duff had nine points, seven rebounds, three steals and three blocks in that game. In the process, she passed 1,000 points for her career, becoming the 28th player to do so in Vikings program history. Duff ranks sixth in the GNAC in scoring (14 points per game) and fifth in rebounding (7.5 per game) while leading the conference in free-throw percentage (.857).
• Guard Mollie Olson was the Vikings’ leading scorer against WOU, sinking 4 of 5 from the field for 12 points. Center Carley Zaragoza continued her efficient season off the bench, shooting 5 of 8 from the field on her way to 11 points and five rebounds, three of which were offensive boards. Zaragoza ranks second in the GNAC with a .589 field goal percentage.
Dani Iwami tallied seven points and had a game-high five assists. Iwami went 1-for-4 from three-point range against Western Oregon, but is making 45.5 percent of her threes this season, the second-highest percentage in the conference.
• The Vikings shot 48 percent from the field while holding WOU to 30.5 percent. For the season, opponents are shooting only 31.5 percent against Western Washington, which ranks fifth in Division II. Nationally, the Vikings also rank fifth in overall scoring defense (49.7 points per game) and fourth in three-point defense (20.5 percent). Their own field goal percentage of 47.5 percent is the fourth-highest in Division II, as is their rebound margin of +14.1, and their scoring margin of +22.1 is the fifth-highest.
• With all the top-five national rankings, both major polls agree that WWU is a top-five national team. The Vikings rose three spots into a tie for No. 2 in the D2SIDA Media Poll and two spots to No. 5 in the WBCA Coaches Poll, cracking the top five in that poll for the first time this season. For the third straight week, the Vikings were No. 1 in the D2SIDA West Regional rankings. They are one of four remaining unbeaten teams in Division II.
• The Vikings will put their undefeated record on the line against a pair of regionally-ranked foes, hosting Central Washington on Thursday and Northwest Nazarene on Saturday.