Heading To The Hardwood: GNAC Slate Tips Off This Week
Seattle Pacific will host the Alaska schools this week as all 10 GNAC teams tip off for the start of confernece play. | Photo by Rio Giancarlo/SPU Athletics
Seattle Pacific will host the Alaska schools this week as all 10 GNAC teams tip off for the start of confernece play. | Photo by Rio Giancarlo/SPU Athletics

Wednesday, November 29, 2023
by Thomas Lal

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Great Northwest Athletic Conference women’s basketball schedule is set and ready to tipoff this week with big matchups abound as five of the 10 teams are receiving votes in the D2CSC west region rankings.

After strong showings against regional competition for the past several weeks, Western Washington, Montana State Billings, Central Washington, Simon Fraser and Alaska Anchorage all received votes in the most recent D2CSC regional polls on Tuesday. The Vikings were slotted at No. 1 followed closely by the No. 2 Yellowjackets. The No. 8 Wildcats and the No. 9 Red Leafs followed the leading pair while the Seawolves received votes for the third consecutive week.

Every team will be in action this week with No. 12 Western Washington and Simon Fraser the only teams competing against non-conference competition ahead of their Saturday border battle in Bellingham. The Alaska schools will head to Washington along with the majority of the GNAC’s teams to kick off the conference slate while Western Oregon will also host a pair of games on opening weekend.

GNAC Women's Basketball Schedule - Nov. 30-Dec. 2
  Thursday, Nov. 30
Saturday, Dec. 2
Host Opponent Time Opponent Time
SPU UAF 5:15 p.m. UAA 2 p.m.
#17 MSUB UAA 5:15 p.m. UAF 2 p.m.
SMU NNU 5:15 p.m. CWU 3 p.m.
#12 WWU Biola 7 p.m. SFU 7 p.m.
WOU CWU 7:30 p.m. NNU 4:15 p.m.

View the complete 2023-24 GNAC women’s basketball schedule online here.

This Week's Storylines

The first game of the GNAC slate will tipoff at 5:15 p.m. (MST) as No. 17 Montana State Billings hosts Alaska Anchorage on Thursday and Alaska on Saturday. The Yellowjackets enter the week with a 6-2 record, including a 2-1 non-conference record at home. Through the beginning of the season, they have been one of the most responsible teams in Division II, ranking 17th in the division with a 1.22 assist to turnover ratio.

The MSUB offense has been led by senior forward Kola Bad Bear who has averaged 16 points per game while shooting a team-leading 53.8% from the field since transferring from Division I Montana State. Bad Bear picked up her second double-double of the young season last week with 25 points and 10 rebounds in the Yellowjackets’ narrow 75-71 loss to Colorado Mines.

Alaska comes into Saturday’s matchup on the back of its first two wins of the season at the Nanooks’ own Mt. McKinley Bank North Star Invitational last week. The Nanooks opened the tournament with a 70-62 win over Cal State San Bernardino last Friday before capping off the week with a 59-55 victory over Covenant College on Saturday. Through the start of the season, UAF has been one of the best rebounding teams in the division in its own half, ranking 14th with 31.2 defensive rebounds per game. The effort on the boards has been led by senior forward Emma Wass who leads Division II with 105 total rebounds.

STARTING THE WAY IT ENDED: The last time Seattle Pacific and Alaska Anchorage tipped off against each other in Washington was for the quarterfinals of the 2023 GNAC Championships in Bellingham. The Falcons came out on top in that contest before ultimately falling in the semifinals of the tournament. Now, the two teams will meet on Saturday for the opening weekend of a brand new conference season with the goal of once again making it to a GNAC Championships game in The Evergreen State.

Alaska Anchorage dropped two one-point decisions to Adams State last week to move to 2-3 on the young season. The Seawolves offense has been led by junior Tori Hollingshead with 15.4 points per game while junior guard Jazzpher Evans has also notched 14.4 points per contest. The two have been helped to their scoring success by transfer Senya Rabouin who is tied for third in the GNAC with four assists per game since coming over from Central Arizona College.

Seattle Pacific is also looking to find its form early in the season after dropping a pair of games in Colorado last week. The Falcons offense has been driven by junior forward Olivia Mayer who averages 10.7 points per game and also pulls in an average of 8.2 rebounds per contest. As a team, the Falcons are one of the most opportunistic teams without the ball, ranking fourth in the conference with an average of 8.8 steals per game.

CRIMSON ‘CATS CONTINUE TO ROLL: Central Washington comes into the first week of conference play on a three-game win streak after notching two more wins over the holiday weekend at the Lynda Goodrich Classic over Hawaii Pacific, 103-69, and MSU Moorhead, 73-59. The Wildcats have been one of the freest shooting teams in all of Division II with sophomore guard Asher Cai leading the division with 170 field goal attempts and junior guard Sunny Huerta ranking third with 155 attempts. The volume of shots has been paying off for CWU and the pair is tied for first in the division with 67 field goals apiece.

The Wildcats will travel to Monmouth to face Western Oregon in their first game of the conference slate on Thursday, the eighth game this year that the team has played away from the friendly confines of Nicholson Pavilion. The Wolves come into the first week of GNAC competition looking to get back in the win column after a pair of losses down in California last week. Senior guard Cali McClave has been the top-scoring threat for WOU, leading the team and ranking sixth in the GNAC with 15.7 points per game. Younger sister Ana McClave, meanwhile, leads the team and ranks eighth in the conference with 8.8 rebounds per contest while also dishing out an average of 3.6 assists per game to rank sixth.

SPLIT SHIFT: While the rest of the GNAC slate gets underway on Thursday, No. 12 Western Washington will tip off against Biola for a non-conference tilt in Bellingham ahead of its GNAC opener against Simon Fraser on Friday. The Red Leafs will be the only GNAC team not playing on Thursday after they opened their week against Biola on a Tuesday.

The Vikings have been one of the best defensive teams in Division II through the early portion of the schedule. Western Washington leads the division with 8.2 blocks per game and has limited opponents to just 30.1% shooting from the field. The blocking effort has been led by senior forward Brooke Walling who ranks second in the GNAC and 10th in Division II with three blocks per game by herself. Walling is also averaging a double-double of 17.8 points and 10 rebounds per game while shooting a league-high 65.8% from the field.

Simon Fraser comes into its first game of the conference schedule as the reigning GNAC Team of the Week after taking three wins last week to cap off a seven-game win streak. The Red Leafs have excelled on both sides of the ball to start the season, with senior Jessica Wisotzki pacing the team with 19.4 points per game while junior forward Gemma Cutler has been stellar on defense, averaging 7.7 rebounds, 3.2 blocked shots and 1.1 steals per contest while also averaging 13.5 points.

PLAYING IN THE PAVILION: Saint Martin’s will return home this week to begin conference play against Northwest Nazarene on Thursday and Central Washington on Saturday after a brief trip to California last week. Including this week’s contests, the Saints have just three more games in 2023 and will cap off the year with a non-conference game against Division I University of Idaho on Dec. 19.

Saint Martin’s has been led by sophomore forward Sarah Lamet in scoring with 13.7 points per game. Lamet has also been a key component for generating second chances and is tied for second in the GNAC with three offensive rebounds per contest. Junior guard Lauryn Morris has also been a top player for SMU on the boards and has been team in rebounding in all six of the Saints’ games thus far. Morris is tied for seventh in Division II with three double-doubles this season and averages 9.7 points and 9.7 rebounds per game.

Northwest Nazarene will come into Lacey after dropping a pair of games against PacWest competition last week in Irvine, Calif. The Nighthawks’ offense has been led by freshman Kendall Clark with an average of 13.9 points per game which ranks 10th in the conference. Clark has also been one of the most efficient shooters in the GNAC, ranking fourth in the conference and 37th in Division II at 57.8% from the field.

Player to Watch


Emma Wass, Alaska

A senior forward from Manhattan, Mont., Wass has been a critical player for the Nanooks through the start of the season and is set to return to her home state for UAF’s first game of the conference slate against Montana State Billings on Thursday. Through the first 10 games of the season, Wass leads not only the GNAC but Division II with 105 total rebounds and averages 10.5 per game to rank 12th in the division for good measure.

Wass has also been a reliable scoring threat for Alaska, posting double-digit points in half of the Nanooks’ games this season and averaging nine points per contest while shooting 45.7% from the field. Her consistent scoring effort has resulted in three double-doubles this season so far which ties her for second in the GNAC and seventh in Division II. Two of those double-doubles came just last week as Wass finished with 12 points and 14 rebounds in the Nanooks’ 70-62 win over Cal State San Bernardino on Thursday and followed that up with a 12-point, 13-rebound effort in Saturday’s 59-55 victory over Covenant College.

GNAC in the National & Regional Rankings

The WBCA Division II rankings and the D2CSC rankings are released every Tuesday throughout the season and are the two leading polls nationally. The WBCA top-25 is voted on by a panel of coaches, while the D2CSC top-25 is a poll constructed by sports information directors at Division II schools.

Western Washington leapfrogged Montana State Billings in the WBCA national rankings, rising a total of six spots to No. 15 in Division II while MSUB dropped to No. 17. That form held true in the D2CSC national rankings where WWU rose to No. 12 and the Yellowjackets slipped three places to No. 17. Half of the conference’s 10 teams received votes in the D2CSC west region rankings, led by No. 1 WWU and No. 2 MSUB. Central Washington checks in next at No. 8 closely followed by reigning GNAC Team of the Week Simon Fraser at No. 9. Alaska Anchorage also received votes in the poll after narrowly dropping two games at home to Adams State last week.

WBCA National Rankings
Poll Team 1 Team 2 Team 3 Team 4
Preseason 15. MSUB RV WWU -- --
Nov. 21 10. MSUB 21. WWU -- --
Nov. 28 15. WWU 17. MSUB -- --
D2CSC National Rankings
Poll Team 1 Team 2 Team 3 Team 4
Nov. 14 10. WWU 21. MSUB -- --
Nov. 21 14. MSUB 17. WWU -- --
Nov. 28 12. WWU 17. MSUB -- --
D2CSC West Region Rankings
Poll Team 1 Team 2 Team 3 Team 4 Team 5
Nov. 14 1. WWU 3. MSUB 7. UAA 9. CWU --
Nov. 21 1. MSUB 2. WWU 7. UAA RV CWU --
Nov. 28 1. WWU 2. MSUB 8. CWU 9. SFU RV UAA

GNAC Women's Basketball in the NCAA Statistical Rankings

Through games on Nov. 27.

Team Rankings (Top-30)

Assist/Turnover Ratio: 17. MSUB, 1.22
Blocks Per Game: 1. WWU, 8.2; 13. SFU, 5.6
Field Goal Percentage Defense: 1. WWU, 30.1
Fouls Per Game: 24. SMU, 14.5
Free Throw Percentage: 5. CWU, 84.2
Free Throws Made Per Game: 28. SFU, 16.70
Defensive Rebounds Per Game: 15. UAF, 31.2; 16. WWU, 31.2
Scoring Defense: 15. WWU, 53.7
Three Point Percentage: 23. UAA, 38.8
Turnovers Per Game: 18. MSUB, 12.6

Individual Rankings (Top-30)

Assists: 10. Makenna Gardner, SFU, 33; 22. Emma McKenney, UAF, 29; 28. Triniti Youngblood, WOU, 28
Blocks: 1. Gemma Cutler, SFU, 34; 5. Brooke Walling, WWU, 18; 30. Ellen Silva, UAF, 10
Blocks Per Game: 6. Gemma Cutler, SFU, 3.40; 10. Brooke Walling, WWU, 3.00
Double Doubles: 1. Brooke Walling, WWU, 4; 7. Emma Wass, UAF, 3; 7. Asher Cai, CWU, 3; 7. Lauryn Morris, SMU, 3; 30. Ellen Silva, UAF, 2; 30. Capri Sims, CWU, 2; 30. Kola Bad Bear, MSUB, 2; 30. Tori Hollingshead, UAA, 2; 30. Olivia Mayer, SPU, 2
Field Goal Attempts: 1. Asher Cai, CWU, 170; 2. Sunny Huerta, CWU, 155; 4. Jessica Wisotzki, SFU, 148; 7. Cali McClave, WOU, 112; 7. Sophia Wisotzki, SFU, 112; 12. Emma McKenney, UAF, 98; 19. Gemma Cutler, SFU, 92
Field Goal Percentage: 11. Brooke Walling, WWU, 65.8; 13. Gemma Cutler, SFU, 64.1; 26. Tori Hollingshead, UAA, 60.0
Field Goals: 1. Asher Cai, CWU, 67; 1. Sunny Huerta, CWU, 67; 3. Gemma Cutler, SFU, 59; 5. Jessica Wistozki, SFU, 58; 12. Brooke Walling, WWU, 48. 21. Kola Bad Bear, MSUB, 43; 21. Sophia Wisotzki, SFU, 43; 29. Cali McClave, WOU, 42
Free Throw Attempts: 1. Jessica Wisotzki, SFU, 73; 5. Sophia Wisotzki, SFU, 55; 10. Kola Bad Bear, MSUB, 49; 10. Kortney Nelson, MSUB, 49; 18. Anjel Galbraith, SMU, 45; 22. Asher Cai, CWU, 43
Free Throws: 1. Jessica Wisotzki, SFU, 62; 7. Sophia Wisotzki, SFU, 43; 11. Kortney Nelson, MSUB, 39; 13. Kola Bad Bear, MSUB, 38; 13. Asher Cai, CWU, 38; 17. Sunny Huerta, CWU, 36
Minutes Per Game: 11. Asher Cai, CWU, 37.30; 24. Anjel Galbraith, SMU, 36.61; 26. Sunny Huerta, CWU, 36.53
Points Per Game: 6. Asher Cai, CWU, 22.0; 9. Sunny Huerta, CWU, 20.9; 16. Jessica Wisotzki, SFU, 19.8
Rebounds: 1. Emma Wass, UAF, 105; 3. Ellen Silva, UAF, 85; 4. Asher Cai, CWU, 83; 5. Capri Sims, CWU, 81; 7. Gemma Cutler, SFU, 77; 13. Makenna Gardner, SFU, 64; 24. Brooke Walling, WWU, 60; 30. Lauryn Morris, SMU, 58
Defensive Rebounds Per Game: 3. Emma Wass, UAF, 8.9; 11. Lauryn Morris, SMU, 7.7; 11. Brooke Walling, WWU, 7.7
Offensive Rebounds Per Game: 17. Capri Sims, CWU, 4.7
Rebounds Per Game: 17. Emma Wass, UAF 10.5; 26. Brooke Walling, WWU, 10.0
Steals: 10. Makenna Gardner, SFU, 20; 14. Cali McClave, WOU, 19
Three Point Attempts: 2. Asher Cai, CWU, 75; 4. Jessica Wisotzki, SFU, 64; 6. Grace Killins, SFU, 61; 10. Emma McKenney, UAF, 56; 13. Cali McClave, WOU, 52; 17. Sunny Huerta, CWU, 51; 19. Shayla Montague, MSUB, 48
Three Point Percentage: 28. Kiana Rios, SMU, 50.0
Three Pointers: 1. Asher Cai, CWU, 26; 4. Grace Killins, SFU, 22; 4. Shayla Montague, MSUB, 22; 8. Jessica Wisotzki, SFU, 20; 15. Sunny Huerta, CWU, 18

GNAC Women's Basketball Players of the Week
Date Offensive Player of the Week
Nov. 6 Asher Cai, Central Washington
Nov. 13 Brooke Walling, Western Washington
Nov. 20 Asher Cai, Central Washington
Nov. 27 Sunny Huerta, Central Washington

Player of the Week - Sunny Huerta, Central Washington

Third-career player of the week – first this season.

Huerta kicked off her big weekend with 37 points against Hawaii Pacific, marking the highest single-game total by any GNAC player this season. Huerta made 14 of 21 shots (66.7%) while adding a season-high six assists in the victory. Huerta followed with a 30-point effort in CWU’s 73-59 win over Minnesota State Moorhead to give her 67 points on the week. Huerta shot 56.8% from the field (15-for-44), made all 12 of her free throws and posted an assist-turnover ratio of 1.6.

“Her skillset matched with her mentality is a scary combination for opposing teams,” head coach Randi Richardson-Thornley said. “I enjoy watching her develop that in both practice and games. I was proud of her for putting in back-to-back efforts this weekend, as these were two big wins for us.”

Also Nominated: Senya Rabouin, UAA; Emma Wass, UAF; Kola Bad Bear, MSUB; Anjel Galbraith, SMU; Jessica Wisotzki, SFU; Cali McClave, WOU; Brooke Walling, WWU.

2023-24 GNAC Women's Basketball Championships

The 2023-24 GNAC Women’s Basketball Championships will be held March 7-9 at Nicholson Pavilion on the campus of Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Wash. The top-six teams in the final GNAC regular-season standings will advance to the single-elimination tournament. The winner of the event will earn the conference’s automatic berth into the NCAA West Region Championships.

2023-24 All-Tournament Selections

2023 CCA Canadian Tip-Off Classic
Nov. 3-5 at Langley, B.C. (Simon Fraser, Host)
Alaska: Ellen Silva, F
Central Washington: Asher Cai, G; Sunny Huerta, G
Simon Fraser: Jessica Wisotzki, G

D2CCAA Tipoff Classic at the Trailhead
Nov. 3-5 at Billings, Mont. (Montana State Billings, Host)
Montana State Billings: Kola Bad Bear, F; Dyauni Boyce, F

GNAC/PacWest Crossover
Nov. 10-11 at Honolulu, Hawaii (Hawaii Pacific, Host)
Alaska Anchorage: Jazzpher Evans, G (MVP); Tori Hollingshead, F
Montana State Billings: Chloe Williams, G; Kola Bad Bear, F

WWU Veterans Day Classic
Nov. 10-11 at Bellingham, Wash. (Western Washington, Host)
Seattle Pacific: Olivia Mayer, F
Western Washington: Brooke Walling, F (MVP); Aspen Garrison, F; Riley Dykstra, G

2023 Warrior Classic
Nov. 17-18 at Turlock, Calif. (Stanislaus State, Host)
Simon Fraser: Makenna Gardner, G (MVP); Jessica Wisotzki, G/F; Sophia Wisotzki, G

Lynda Goodrich Classic
Nov. 24-25 at Bellingham, Wash. (Western Washington, Host)
Central Washington: Sunny Huerta, G (MVP); Asher Cai, G
Western Washington: Brooke Walling, F; Stephanie Peterson, G; Riley Dykstra, G; Mason Oberg, G

2023 Mt. McKinley Bank North Star Invitational
Nov. 24-25 at Fairbanks, Alaska (Alaska, Host)
Alaska: Ellen Silva, F; Emma Wass, F

Rank Team (1st Place Votes) 2022-23 GNAC Record (Finish) Points
1. Montana State Billings (5) 25-8 14-4 (2nd) 94
2. Western Washington (4) 24-4 16-2 (1st) 91
3. Alaska Anchorage (1) 18-10 10-8 (4th) 75
4. Simon Fraser 10-13 8-10 (6th) 68
5. Central Washington 21-9 12-6 (3rd) 66
6. Seattle Pacific 15-13 9-9 (5th) 51
7. Northwest Nazarene 11-15 7-11 (T7th) 42
8. Saint Martin's 10-16 6-12 (9th) 27
9. Western Oregon 13-13 7-11 (T7th) 19
10. Alaska 4-21 1-17 (10th) 17

 Points awarded on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.

Preseason Player of the Year: Brooke Walling, Western Washington

Name School Pos. Ht. Yr. Hometown
*!$ Brooke Walling Western Washington F 6-3 Sr. Vancouver, Wash.
*!# Jessica Wisotzki Simon Fraser G/F 6-2 Sr. Langley, B.C.
*! Sunny Huerta Central Washington G 5-4 Jr. Whittier, Calif
*!+ Vishe' Rabb Alaska Anchorage F 5-9 Sr. Springfield, Minn.
%$ Kortney Nelson Montana State Billings G 5-8 Sr. Scobey, Mont.
*% Anjel Galbraith Saint Martin's G 5-5 Sr. Vallejo, Calif.
*&@ Asher Cai Central Washington G 5-9 So. Colfax, Wash.
^$ Riley Dykstra Western Washington G 5-10 Jr. Everson, Wash.
*@ Gemma Cutler Simon Fraser F 6-2 Jr. North Vancouver, B.C.
* Jazzpher Evans Alaska Anchorage G 5-6 Jr. Shorewood, Ill.
Schuyler Berry Seattle Pacific C 6-3 Jr. Portland, Ore.
*% Cali McClave Western Oregon G 5-9 Jr. Corvallis, Ore.
@ Shayla Montague Montana State Billings G 5-11 Sr. Billings, Mont.
@ Dyauni Boyce Montana State Billings F 5-11 Jr. Winifred, Mont.
Mason Oberg Western Washington G 5-5 So. Vancouver, Wash.