Season Enters Final Sprint With All To Play For
Samantha Bowman (No. 23) earned her fifth Player of the Week award, then recorded 24 points, 14 rebounds, four steals and four blocks against Alaska Anchorage on Monday.
Samantha Bowman (No. 23) earned her fifth Player of the Week award, then recorded 24 points, 14 rebounds, four steals and four blocks against Alaska Anchorage on Monday.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

PORTLAND, Ore. – Northwest Nazarene defeated a Western Washington team ranked in the top 10 for the second time in 12 days as part of a fast and frenetic culmination of the regular season that will end on Saturday ahead of next week’s GNAC Championships.

The Nighthawks first pulled a stunner back on February 10 with a home overtime win over Western Washington in which NNU was fouled on a game-tying three-point attempt and hit all three free throws with no time on the clock before running away with the game in overtime. On Monday, the tables were turned, as the Nighthawks held a late three-point lead before WWU’s Riley Dykstra hit a clutch three-pointer from the corner at the buzzer to force an extra period.

Just like the previous match-up, however, it was all NNU in overtime. Teagan Thurman scored six of the Nighthawks’ first eight points in the extra period, hitting a three-pointer to give NNU a four-point lead with 2:19 left to play. From there, the Nighthawks simply got to the line, draining their final six free-throw attempts of the game in a 87-76 victory, outscoring the Vikings 18-7 in the extra five minutes. Six NNU players scored in double figures: Erin Jenkins (16), Thurman (14), Cami Knishka, Lydia Nieto, Ashlynn Sylve (12) and Jordan Pinson (10).

The impressive road win extended a three-game winning streak for NNU, who also defeated Saint Martin’s and Western Oregon this week. The win over the Saints was a come-from-behind effort. The Nighthawks entered the final quarter down by 12, but unleashed an offensive tidal wave on the Saints, outscoring them 31-11 in the final ten minutes to win 66-58. They also pulled out a 64-63 win over WOU on Thurman’s go-ahead jumper with 13 seconds to play on Saturday before Monday’s win over WWU.

The two losses to NNU over the past two weeks have put Western Washington’s previous stranglehold on the conference in doubt. The Vikings began a challenging stretch of three games in four days with a massive Saturday win over reigning regular season and conference champion Alaska Anchorage. They utilized suffocating defense to limit the Seawolves to 27 percent shooting and 19 first-half points in a 63-50 victory. After stumbling against NNU, the Vikings responded resoundingly, dismantling Saint Martin’s 81-48. Western Washington held the Saints to just two points in the entire second quarter.

Katrina Giammaca had her best week of the season, scoring in double figures in all three games after doing so once previously all season. Gimmaka scored a team-high 14 in the win over the Seawolves, added 10 points against NNU and set season-highs of 18 points and nine rebounds in the win over the Saints.

Central Washington’s Samantha Bowman had a business-as-usual week that led her to her fifth GNAC Player of the Week award of the season for the week of February 14-20. In two wins over Western Oregon and Saint Martin’s, Bowman averaged 23.5 points and 13 rebounds per game while shooting 73 percent from the field, all of which led the conference over the course of the week.

Bowman actually had a below-average week in the rebounding department, as she continues to lead Division II with 15.6 rebounds per game. Outside of her award-winning timeframe, Bowman impressed on Monday against Alaska Anchorage as well with 24 points, 14 rebounds, four steals and four blocks, all of which were nightly conference highs.

It was Alaska Anchorage that won that game by an 89-81 margin, however, as the Seawolves refuse to bow out of an exciting GNAC title race. The win gave the Seawolves a sweep over the Wildcats and allowed them to rebound nicely from the Western Washington loss. Tennae Voliva led the way in that game for UAA with a 17-point, 10-rebound double-double.

The NCAA’s Regional Rankings, a preview ranking of the top eight teams that the NCAA will select from the West Region for the NCAA Tournament, shine favorably on the GNAC. Western Washington and Central Washington are No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, with Alaska Anchorage at No. 6 and Northwest Nazarene at No. 7.

Joining the rankings this week is Montana State Billings at No. 9. The Yellowjackets stayed out of trouble, defeating Seattle Pacific in their only game last week, 56-53 on Saturday, behind 21 points and nine rebounds from Taryn Shelley. Montana State Billings is tied with Western Washington for the highest win percentage in the conference with each time at 10-3 but will be tested by the end of its regular season as they have to face Central Washington and Northwest Nazarene on the road.

From the top to the bottom of the standings, Alaska got a much-deserved second conference win of the season by defeating Simon Fraser at home 80-78 on Tuesday. Simon Fraser had a six-point lead with two minutes to go, but Zosha Krupa and Savannah Huerta made three-pointers for the Nanooks to tie the score before Destiny Riemers hit a go-ahead jumper from the paint with one second left to lift Alaska to victory.

All 10 teams will make the GNAC Championships this season, and seeding will be determined via a Points Rating System (PRS) after the conclusion of the regular season on Saturday. The GNAC tournament will run from Wednesday, March 2 to Saturday, March 5. One first-round game and two quarterfinal games will take place at Seattle Pacific University, with the remainder of the tournament at Saint Martin’s.


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Samantha Bowman
Central Washington
F | 6-3 | Jr. | Zillah, Wash.

Bowman averaged 22.5 points and 14.5 rebounds per game in a pair of wins for the Wildcats, shooting 73 percent from the field. Bowman led all players with 24 points and 14 rebounds on 11 of 14 from the field with four steals in Thursday’s 66-46 rout at Western Oregon. Bowman then led CWU with 21 points and 12 rebounds with five assists in Saturday’s 78-73 victory at Saint Martin’s, connecting on 8 of 12 from the field.

Also Nominated: Tennae Voliva (Alaska Anchorage), Taryn Shelley (Montana State Billings), Teagan Thurman (Northwest Nazarene), Claire Dingus (Saint Martin's), Jessica Wisotzki (Simon Fraser), Meadow Aragon (Western Oregon), Emma Duff (Western Washington).