GNAC Hoops Heading Down The Holiday Stretch
Saint Martin's is one of six GNAC women's basketball teams that will close out its 2023 schedule ahead of the mandatory winter break that begins on Wednesday, Dec. 20.
Saint Martin's is one of six GNAC women's basketball teams that will close out its 2023 schedule ahead of the mandatory winter break that begins on Wednesday, Dec. 20.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023
by Thomas Lal

PORTLAND, Ore. – With the winter break fast approaching on the horizon, eight of the conference’s 10 women’s basketball teams will be in non-conference action ahead of the mandatory break which begins on Wednesday, Dec. 20.

Last week saw just four GNAC teams on the court, with Alaska Anchorage and No. 15 Montana State Billings leading the way with two wins apiece. The Seawolves captured a pair of dominant wins over Clarion while the Yellowjackets extended their win streak to four with victories over Montana Western and Rocky Mountain College. Seattle Pacific and Western Oregon made it a clean sweep for the GNAC last week with wins over George Fox and Oregon Tech, respectively.

The Wolves got this week started early, defeating Linfield 73-64 in overtime on Monday. Between this week and the break, Western Washington, Montana State Billings, Alaska Anchorage, Saint Martin’s, Simon Fraser and Northwest Nazarene will all play their final games of the calendar year.

This Week's Storylines


LOOKING FOR A GOLDEN GIFT: Western Washington (7-1, 1-0 GNAC), Alaska Anchorage (4-5, 0-2) and Simon Fraser (7-5, 0-1) will all close out their 2023 schedules in California across the next week. The Vikings will face No. 6 in the west Dominican (Calif.) on Thursday before taking on Cal State East Bay on Saturday. They will play their last game of the year on Monday, Dec. 18 against Cal State San Bernardino.

Western Washington remains one of the best defensive teams in Division II coming into the week and leads the division with 7.2 blocks per game while holding opponents to just 31.2% shooting from the field to rank second in the nation. That defensive effort has been led by senior forward Brooke Walling with an average of 2.75 blocks per game while also knocking down a team-leading 18.6 points per game. Junior forward Aspen Garrison has been another key defensive player for WWU, averaging 6.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals per contest while senior guard Stephanie Peterson leads the team with 1.8 steals per game.

The Seawolves will head down to California for a pair of games against CCAA competition. They will face regionally ranked Stanislaus State on Sunday before taking on San Francisco State on Tuesday, Dec. 19 to cap off their year. The UAA offense has been led by the reliable efforts of junior guard Jazzpher Evans, junior forward/center Tori Hollingshead and junior guard Senya Rabouin. Evans and Hollingshead both average 12.7 points per game with Hollingshead also shooting a team-leading 58.4% from the field. Rabouin averages 12.6 points per game while also leading the GNAC with 4.4 assists per contest.

Simon Fraser will also play two more games ahead of the holiday break, heading south to face regionally ranked Sonoma State for a pair of contests on Monday, Dec. 18 and Tuesday, Dec. 19. The Red Leafs have not played since Dec. 2 when they fell 57-64 at Western Washington. Along with the Vikings, SFU has been one of the best blocking teams in Division II, ranking No. 7 with 5.8 blocks per game. That effort has been led by junior forward Gemma Cutler who ranks second in the division with 39 total blocks and fourth with 3.25 per game while also shooting a team-leading 62% from the field. Senior guard/forward Jessica Wisotzki paces the offense with 18.5 points per game.

ONE MORE IN IDAHO: After not playing last week, both Northwest Nazarene (4-5, 1-1) and Saint Martin’s (2-6, 0-2) will conclude their 2023 schedules in Idaho on Tuesday, Dec. 19. The Nighthawks are set to host Lincoln (Calif.) in Nampa while the Saints will face Division I Idaho in Moscow, Idaho.

The Nighthawks have been the most efficient team in the conference when shooting from the field and rank 22nd in Division II with a 45.1 field goal percentage. Junior guard/forward Madeline Gebers has been a big part of that success, particularly from long range. On the season, Gebers leads the GNAC and ranks 14th in the division while shooting 50% from beyond the three-point arc. Defensively, Emma Clark leads the team with 5.1 rebounds per game while fellow senior guard Cami Knishka snags 2.2 steals per contest.

Senior guard Anjel Galbraith and sophomore forward Sarah Lamet lead Saint Martin’s into its matchup against the Vandals with 12.4 and 12.3 points per game, respectively. Lamet has been one of the most efficient shooters for the Saints with a .451 field goal percentage while Galbraith also leads the team with 4.1 assists per game. The Saints’ game against Idaho will be the first in program history.

SUNSHINE & PALM TREES: No. 15 Montana State Billings (10-2, 2-0) will be trading in the cold of Billings for the sunny days of Florida as they travel across the country to play in the Daytona Beach Shootout. The Yellowjackets will face West Texas A&M on Saturday before a tilt against St. Mary’s (Texas) next Monday. The team comes into the week on the heels of two wins over Montana Western, 76-56, and Rocky Mountain College, 69-46.

Senior forward Kola Bad Bear picked up her first GNAC Player of the Week honors for her role in last week’s victories after transferring from Division I Montana State this season. Bad Bear turned in a pair of dominant performances in the two wins, averaging 19 points, eight rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. She has been a consistent scoring threat for MSUB, leading the team and ranking fifth in the conference with 16.7 points per game while also shooting a team-leading 54.3% from the field.

As a team, Montana State Billings has been one of the most responsible passing teams in the nation, ranking second in Division II with an assist to turnover ratio of 1.41. That strength has been bolstered by freshman guard Layla Baumann who ranks 13th in the division with a 4.00 assist to turnover ratio. Baumann has featured in 11 of the Yellowjackets’ 12 games this season, notching seven points, four assists and three steals with just 36 minutes under her belt.

THE EARLY WOLF GETS THE WIN: Western Oregon (6-5, 1-1) put itself back above .500 with a 73-65 overtime win against Linfield on Monday. The win marks the third in a row for the Wolves who were one of just four GNAC teams to play last week and will not be in action again until after the holiday break. The next contest for WOU will be at Willamette on Dec. 30 ahead of a New Year’s Eve tilt against Lewis & Clark.

Coming into the winter break, senior guard Cali McClave has been the top offensive threat for the Wolves. McClave averages 16.4 points per game while the offense flows through her fingers for a team-leading 180 field goal attempts. She has also been the most deadly Wolf from long range, averaging 1.7 three-pointers per game. Junior guard Triniti Youngblood has been a steady presence for WOU as well, starting every game and putting up double-digit points in eight of the Wolves’ 11 games. On the season, Youngblood is averaging 9.8 points and 6.2 rebounds per contest.

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS: Central Washington (8-3, 2-0) will be in Ellensburg for the remainder of the calendar year and will play two games ahead of the winter break. The Wildcats will host Linfield on Saturday before facing Evergreen State on Tuesday, Dec. 19. They will round out 2023 with a game against Westminster (Utah) on Saturday, Dec. 30 following the break in action.

With a week of rest behind them, Central Washington’s leading scorers Asher Cai and Sunny Huerta should be ready to go for this week’s non-conference contests. Despite not playing last week, Cai still leads Division II with 190 field goal attempts while Huerta’s 187 are second. That frequency of shooting along with her excellent .914 free throw percentage sees Cai leading the conference with 21.2 points per game. Freshman forward Capri Sims has been another key player for Central Washington early in the season, coming through with 8.3 points and eight rebounds per game while starting eight of the Wildcats’ 11 games.

FALCONS FLY TO WARMER WATERS: Seattle Pacific (4-5, 2-0) will aim to extend its three-game winning streak this week as it heads to California to face two regionally ranked opponents in Stanislaus State on Thursday and Fresno Pacific on Saturday. After the winter break, SPU will host one more game against Westminster (Utah) on Friday, Dec. 29 to close out the year. The Falcons come into the week on the back of a 64-44 non-conference win over George Fox last Saturday.

Junior forward Olivia Mayer led SPU to the win on Saturday, posting her third double-double of the season with 14 points and 11 rebounds to go along with two steals and one block. Mayer has been the leading scorer for the Falcons this season, averaging 12.9 points per game to rank 11th in the GNAC while also pulling in eight rebounds per contest. Along with Mayer, junior guard Hunter Beirne and junior center Schuyler Berry have been reliable offensive producers, averaging 9.8 and 9.2 points, respectively. Berry also leads the team with a .525 field goal percentage while pulling in 4.4 rebounds per game.

HOLIDAY HIBERNATION: The Nanooks capped off their 2023 schedule with a pair of losses in GNAC competition two weeks ago and will not play again until Jan. 4 when they resume conference play against Simon Fraser in Fairbanks. Alaska’s Emma Wass remains one of the top rebounding players in Division II with 123 total boards to rank second in the nation and go along with her 8.2 points per game. Sophomore Kayla Johnson has been the top scoring threat for the Nanooks, averaging 10.3 points per contest while shooting a team-high 45% from the field.

Player to Watch


Capri Sims, Central Washington

In a roster that is used to as much top-end talent as the Wildcats have been accustomed to the last few years, it can be hard to stand out as a true freshman, but Capri Sims has been making waves through the start of her debut campaign.  The forward from Post Falls, Idaho, has been one of the best players for CWU to start the season, particularly on the boards. Sims is tied for sixth in the GNAC with eight rebounds per game and has been the top rebounding player for Central Washington in four games thus far, all double-digit performances. Along with her defensive efforts, Sims ranks third on the team with 8.3 points per game while shooting 50.7% from the field.

Coming into the week, Sims has appeared in all 11 of the Wildcats’ games and featured in the starting lineup for each of the last eight contests. In her first start of the season, Sims showed why she earned the start by posting her first-career double-double with 13 points and 15 rebounds in CWU’s 70-63 win over Cal State East Bay on Nov. 10. That performance included a season-high nine offensive boards for the 6-foot freshman who also came away with two steals in the win. She picked up the second double-double of her young career on Nov. 18 in the Wildcats’ 84-71 win over Westmont, finishing with 18 points and 12 rebounds.

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 and Montana State Billings both maintained their standings across all three polls. The Vikings rank No. 1 in the regional rankings, No. 13 in the WBCA national rankings and No. 9 in the D2CSC national rankings after a week off from competition while the Yellowjackets are No. 2 in the region, No. 16 in the WBCA poll and No. 15 in the D2CSC top 25 after wins over Montana Western and Rocky Mountain College last week. Both teams have featured in the top 25 for the D2CSC national rankings for every week of the poll this season while WWU has been the top-ranked team in the west for the last three weeks.

Central Washington checks in at No. 5 in the D2CSC west region rankings, two places higher than last week despite taking a week off from completion. The Wildcats will play three more games before the end of 2023 as they look to continue climbing the polls ahead of resuming GNAC play on Thursday, Jan. 4 against MSUB.

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 -- --
Dec. 5 13. WWU 16. MSUB -- --
Dec. 12 13. WWU 16. 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 -- --
Dec. 4 9. WWU 15. MSUB --  --
Dec. 12 9. WWU 15. 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
Dec. 4 1. WWU 2. MSUB 7. CWU RV SFU --
Dec. 11 1. WWU 2. MSUB 5. CWU -- --

GNAC Women's Basketball in the NCAA Statistical Rankings

Through games on Dec. 10.

Team Rankings (Top-30)

Assist/Turnover Ratio: 2. MSUB, 1.41; 22. WOU, 1.13
Assists Per Game: 23. MSUB, 17.0; 29. WWU, 16.6
Blocks Per Game: 1. WWU, 7.2; 7. SFU, 5.8
Field Goal Percentage: 22. NNU, 54.1
Field Goal Percentage Defense: 2. WWU, 31.5
Fewest Fouls Per Game: 23. SMU, 14.8
Free Throw Percentage: 2. CWU, 84.4; 13. MSUB, 79.2
Rebound Margin: 18. MSUB, 10.1
Defensive Rebounds Per Game: 19. UAF, 30.0; 21. WWU, 29.9
Scoring Defense: 14. WWU, 54.1
Scoring Margin: 26. MSUB, 16.0
Steals Per Game: 19. UAA, 13.2
Three Point Percentage: 17. NNU, 37.6; 22. NNU, 36.8
Three Pointers Per Game: 29. CWU, 7.7
Fewest Turnovers Per Game: 5. MSUB, 12.1; 21. WWU, 87.5

Individual Rankings (Top-30)

Assist/Turnover Ratio: 13. Layla Baumann, MSUB, 4.00
Blocks: 2. Gemma Cutler, SFU, 39; 13. Brooke Walling, WWU, 22; 23. Tori Hollingshead, UAA, 17
Blocks Per Game: 4. Gemma Cutler, SFU, 3.25; 10. Brooke Walling, WWU, 2.75; 24. Tori Hollingshead, UAA, 1.89
Double-Doubles: 4. Brooke Walling, WWU, 5; 17. Kola Bad Bear, MSUB, 4; 17. Asher Cai, CWU, 4
Field Goal Attempts: 1. Asher Cai, CWU, 190; 2. Sunny Huerta, CWU, 187; 5. Jessica Wisotzki, SFU, 174; 7. Cali McClave, WOU, 165
Field Goal Percentage: 1. Brooke Walling, WWU, 66.7; 10. Gemma Cutler, SFU, 62.0; 26. Tori Hollingshead, UAA, 58.4
Field Goals: 4. Sunny Huerta, CWU, 77; 5. Asher Cai, CWU, 76; 8. Kola Bad Bear, MSUB, 70; 13. Gemma Cutler, SFU, 67; 13. Jessica Wisotzki, SFU, 67
Free Throw Attempts: 7. Jessica Wisotski, SFU, 75; 11. Kola Bad Bear, MSUB, 67; 15. Kortney Nelson, MSUB, 62; 15. Sophia Wisotzki, SFU, 62; 28. Asher Cai, CWU, 58
Free Throw Percentage: 21. Asher Cai, CWU, 91.4
Free Throws: 5. Jessica Wisotzki, SFU, 64; 11. Kola Bad Bear, MSUB, 54; 12. Asher Cai, CWU, 53; 21. Kortney Nelson, MSUB, 48; 21. Sophia Wisotzki, SFU, 48
Minutes Per Game: 15. Sunny Huerta, CWU, 37.03; 16. Asher Cai, CWU, 37.00
Points Per Game: 4. Asher Cai, CWU, 21.2; 13. Sunny Huerta, CWU, 19.6; 25. Brooke Walling, WWU, 18.6; Jessica Wisotzki, SFU, 18.5
Rebounds: 2. Emma Wass, UAF, 123; 8. Asher Cai, CWU, 101; 12. Ellen Silva, UAF, 96; 22. Gemma Cutler, SFU, 89; 27. Capri Sims, CWU, 88; 29. Kola Bad Bear, MSUB, 87
Defensive Rebounds Per Game: 2. Emma Wass, UAF, 8.6; 9. Brooke Walling, WWU, 7.8; 21. Asher Cai, CWU, 7.1; 30. Lauryn Morris, SMU, 6.8
Offensive Rebounds Per Game: 19. Capri Sims, CWU, 4.3
Rebounds Per Game: 17. Emma Wass, UAF, 10.2; 28. Brooke Walling, WWU, 9.6
Steals: 30. Cali McClave, WOU, 25
Three Point Attempts: 8. Asher Cai, CWU, 81; 12. Grace Killins, SFU, 78; 15. Jessica Wisotzki, SFU, 77; 27. Cali McClave, WOU, 68
Three Point Percentage: 14. Madeline Gebers, NNU, 50.0
Three Pointers: 10. Asher Cai, CWU, 28; 18. Grace Killins, SFU, 26; 29. Shayla Montague, MSUB, 24; 29. Jessica Wisotzki, SFU, 24

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
Dec. 4 Dyauni Boyce, Montana State Billings
Dec. 11 Kola Bad Bear, Montana State Billings

Player of the Week - Kola Bad Bear, Montana State Billings

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

Bad Bear sparked the Yellowjackets to a pair of non-conference victories last week, putting together dominant performances on both sides of the ball. Bad Bear notched a 21-point, 12-rebound double-double in MSUB’s 69-46 win over Rocky Mountain College, after recording 17 points and a season-high seven assists in the team’s 76-56 win over Montana Western. Overall in the two-game sample, Bad Bear led all GNAC players with 38 total points, averaged 8.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and shot 60.0% (15-for-25). “Kola is having an outstanding season and continues to improve each week,” said MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin. “She is getting more comfortable with her teammates on the court and has fit in very well to our program. Kola is an unselfish player with a great understanding of the game and is impacting the game on both ends for us. I have been so impressed with her versatility, leadership, and team first attitude.”

Also Nominated: Senya Rabouin, UAA; Cali McClave, WOU.

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