Action Heats Up As All Teams Hit The Hardwood
Kourtney Nelson was one of the leading scorers for Montana State Billings this week as the Yellowjackets improved to 4-0 on the young season with a 78-44 win over Minot State on Saturday.
Kourtney Nelson was one of the leading scorers for Montana State Billings this week as the Yellowjackets improved to 4-0 on the young season with a 78-44 win over Minot State on Saturday.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

PORTLAND, Ore. – It was a full week around the GNAC with nine of the women’s basketball programs in action. Four teams in the conference have gotten off to perfect starts with Central Washington, Montana State Billings and Western Oregon all opening the season 4-0 while Alaska Anchorage has started 3-0.

WILDCATS SMOKE OPPOSITION, HUERTA EARNS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Central Washington moved to 4-0 on the young season with a 95-76 win over MSU Denver on Friday and an 87-67 win over Westminster (Utah) on Saturday. The Wildcats went on an offensive charge on Friday with four players scoring in the double-digits led by the GNAC Women’s Player of the Week Valerie Huerta with a career-high 37 points. She followed that up with an 18-point performance on Saturday against Westminster and finished the week averaging 27.5 points per game while shooting 64% from the field, 66% from three-point range and going a perfect 9 for 9 from the free-throw line.

Huerta wasn’t the only Wildcat to break the 30-point mark last week as senior center Samantha Bowman cashed in for a double-double of 36 points and 19 rebounds to go along with six assists, five steals and five blocks in Saturday’s win over the Griffins. Bowman also recorded a double-double on Friday where she put up 10 points and 10 boards. She is tied for the lead in Division II with four double-doubles, one in every game CWU has played.

Central Washington will round out its season-opening road trip by facing No. 20 Colorado Mines on Friday and Regis on Saturday.

SHOOTOUT WINNERS ON THE HARDWOOD: Alaska Anchorage took its eighth Great Alaska Shootout victory at Alaska Airlines Center last week with a 64-51 win over Division I UC Riverside on Friday and a 88-75 win against La Salle on Saturday. The two games were contested as exhibitions for the Seawolves.

Senior guard Vishe’ Rabb led the way for UAA in Friday’s win with 14 points to go along with six rebounds, four steals and two assists. She followed that up with a 21-point performance on Saturday while grabbing nine boards and 63.6% from the field. Rabb ranks fifth in the conference in scoring with an average of 18.7 points per game.

Jahnna Hajdukovich also put together a solid week for Alaska Anchorage, averaging 15 points and 7.5 rebounds per game while going a perfect 8 for 8 from the free-throw line. Across the week, she shot 64.3% from the field and 57.1% from three-point range. She also led the team with an average of 7.5 rebounds per game.

Alaska Anchorage will continue its regular season schedule at home when it faces Biola for a pair of games on Friday and Saturday.

YELLOWJACKETS COME OUT STINGING: Montana State Billings improved to 4-0 to start the year with a dominant 78-44 victory over Minot State on Saturday at home in Alterowitz Gymnasium.

The Yellowjackets were led by junior guard Kortney Nelson and junior forward Dyauni Boyce, who both knocked down 16 points. Nelson shot 5 for 8 from the field and 2 for 3 from three-point range and made all but one of her five free throw attempts. She also added seven rebounds, four assists and one steal.  Boyce went 5 for 12 from the field, 1 for 4 from three-point range and a perfect 5 for 5 from the charity stripe while adding three assists and three steals.

Montana State Billings leads the GNAC and ranks 21st in Division II with a +24.0 scoring margin. The Yellowjackets also rank third in the conference and 25th in the division with a scoring defense of 53 points allowed per game.

Montana State Billings will play Black Hills State at home on Tuesday before kicking off a four-game road trip when they face Salem University on Friday and Post University on Saturday in the Mt. McKinley Bank North Star Invitational in Fairbanks.

NNU TAKES TWO ON THE ROAD: Northwest Nazarene took a pair of tightly contested wins in Salt Lake City to move to 3-1 on the season with a 69-64 win over Westminster on Friday and a 97-93 victory over MSU Denver on Saturday.

Senior guard Jordan Pinson led the way for the Nighthawks over the week, averaging 19 points and 4.5 assists per game while shooting 63% from the field. She put up 13 points on Saturday and followed it up with a 25-point performance in the win on Saturday to go along with seven assists. Pinson has also been an effective defensive player for NNU and is tied for the GNAC lead with an average of three steals per game. Her 12 total steals are also tied for 20th in the division.

Junior forward Clare Eubanks had a strong week for the Nighthawks as well, averaging 13.5 points per game and going a perfect 7 for 7 from the free-throw line. Her Week was highlighted by a 17-point performance in Saturday’s win over MSU Denver where she shot 75% going 6 for 8 from the field to go along with five rebounds, two assists and two blocks.

Northwest Nazarene will return home this week to host the NNU Thanksgiving Classic and will face Concordia (Calif.) on Friday and Point Loma on Saturday.

SAINTS SPLIT CALIFORNIA ROAD TRIP: Saint Martin’s went 1-1 on its trip to Chico for the CCAA/GNAC Challenge, taking a 62-49 win over Sonoma State on Friday before falling to host Chico State, 59-52, on Saturday.

Sophomore guard Lauryn Morris led the way for the Saints, averaging 13 points and 5.5 rebounds per game while shooting 59% from the field. She opened the week with 12 points in the win against Sonoma State and added one assist. She followed that up with 14 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and a steal in the Saint’s loss to Chico State.

Saint Martin’s has proved to be a defensively sound squad through the first four games of the season and leads the conference in scoring defense, allowing 51 points per game and a .297 field goal percentage defense. The Saints’ average of 32.8 defensive rebounds per game also leads the GNAC and ranks 14th in Division II.

Saint Martin’s has a full week ahead, hosting Azusa Pacific on Tuesday before hitting the road to Bellingham for the Lynda Goodrich Classic where it will face Bemidji State on Friday and Dominican (Calif.) on Saturday.

FALCONS OPEN CAMPAIGN 1-1: Seattle Pacific split its first two games of the season at the West Region Crossover Classic in Bellingham with a 70-62 loss to Cal State San Marcos on Friday before bouncing back with a 70-64 win over Azusa Pacific on Saturday.

Sophomore guard Anna Eddy is the early leader for the Falcons after averaging 16.5 points per game and shooting 50% from both the field and three-point range. Eddy chipped in for 26 points to go along with four rebounds and an assist in the loss to Cal State San Marcos before adding seven points, two rebounds and two steals to go with a block and an assist in Saturday’s win.

Senior guard/forward Ashely Alter also did some damage for SPU, putting up 10 points with seven rebounds, five assists and one steal on Friday. Alter then led the team in scoring on Saturday with 17 points while shooting 50% from the field and grabbing four boards along with two steals.

Seattle Pacific will continue its season at the Regis Thanksgiving Classic in Denver when it faces Regis on Friday and Colorado Mines on Saturday.

NANOOKS SLOW OUT OF THE GATES: Alaska has struggled to find early momentum despite strong individual performances, opening the season 0-3 after dropping games 72-60 at UC Colorado Springs on Wednesday, 83-69 at CSU Pueblo on Friday and 88-79 at Colorado Christian on Saturday.

Both freshman forward Kayla Johnson and junior guard Emma Mckenney broke the 20-point mark for the Nanooks. Johnson put up a double-double to lead UAF with 26 points and 13 rebounds on Wednesday. McKenney led the squad on Saturday with 26 points while shooting 64.3% from the field and 70% from beyond the three-point arc. Mckenney ranks fourth in the conference averaging 19 points per game and ranks third in three-point percentage with a .583 average.

The Nanooks will look to break into the win column this week as they host the Mt. McKinley Bank North Star Invitational and take on Post University on Saturday and Salem University on Saturday.

WOLFPACK BACK ON THE ATTACK IN GOLDEN STATE: Western Oregon moved to 4-0 with a pair of wins in the CCAA/GNAC Challenge in Chico with a 66-64 win over Chico State on Friday and a 56-47 win over Sonoma State on Saturday.

Junior guard Cali McClave led the charge for the Wolves on Friday, putting up 21 points while adding six rebounds and two assists. She was joined in double-digit scoring by Princy Paaluhi-Caulk, Erika Glenn and Ana McClave who recorded a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds for  WOU while shooting 50% from the field.

On Saturday, it was freshman forward Kylee Arzner who headed up three Western Oregon players in the double-digits with 17 points to go along with four rebounds. Arzner went  7 for 13 from the field and 3 for 6 from three-point range.

Western Oregon will take the week off before returning to the court for GNAC competition when it faces Central Washington on Thursday, December 1 and Northwest Nazarene on Saturday, December 3.

VIKINGS TIP OFF IN BELLINGHAM: Western Washington opened its season by hosting the West Region Crossover Classic where it went 1-1 after a 59-58 loss to No. 21 Azusa Pacific on Friday before bouncing back to a 63-46 win over No. 12 Cal State San Marcos on Saturday.

Junior forward Brooke Walling led the team in scoring with an average of 16.5 points per game while shooting 50% from both the field and beyond the three-point arc. She also led the Vikings with an average of 10.5 rebounds per game after snagging 21 boards across the week. Walling posted double-doubles of 17 points and 11 rebounds on Friday and 16 points and 10 rebounds on Saturday.

As a team, WWU leads the conference and ranks second in Division II with an average of seven blocks per game. Walling leads the team with six blocks while Mollie Olson has three.

Western Washington will continue its season at home with the Lynda Goodrich Classic this week and will host Dominican (Calif.) on Friday and Bemidji State on Saturday.