Great North Upset & Top 10 Rankings Mark GNAC Week 2
Montana State Billings is the only undefeated team in conference play after winning its fourth straight GNAC game last Saturday against Northwest Nazarene.
Montana State Billings is the only undefeated team in conference play after winning its fourth straight GNAC game last Saturday against Northwest Nazarene.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024
by Thomas Lal

PORTLAND, Ore. – Only Montana State Billings owns an undefeated record heading into the third week of conference play for GNAC women’s basketball teams.

With a 4-0 GNAC record (13-3 overall) courtesy of two road wins last week, the Yellowjackets moved up to No. 9 in the D2CSC national rankings and up to No. 14 in the WBCA national rankings. They also maintained their standing as the No. 1 team in the west in the D2CSC regional poll. Without a doubt, it has been a strong start to the conference slate for MSUB, but the chasing back is never far behind in the GNAC.

Central Washington was one of several teams to go 1-1 last week and sits second in the standings with a 3-1 GNAC record (12-4 overall) courtesy of exceptional top-end scoring. Meanwhile, Western Oregon and Alaska Anchorage enter the week lower in the standings (fourth and fifth respectively) but both lead the conference with six-game win streaks. No. 21 Western Washington sits third in the standings and will also be one to watch this week as the Vikings return home to host regionally-ranked Central Washington on Thursday and Northwest Nazarene on Saturday.

GNAC Women's Basketball Schedule - Jan. 11-13
  Thursday, Jan. 11
Saturday, Jan. 13
Host Opponent Time Opponent Time
UAA Bye -- UAF 5:15 p.m.
#14 MSUB SMU 7:30 p.m. WOU 4:15 p.m.
SPU WOU 7:30 p.m. SMU 2:00 p.m.
SFU NNU 7:00 p.m. CWU 7:00 p.m.
#21 WWU CWU 7:00 p.m. NNU 7:00 p.m.

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

This Week's Storylines

With non-conference action in the rearview mirror, the Great Northwest Athletic Conference solidified its place in the region with strong showings against regional competition from the CCAA and PacWest. Among the conference’s 10 teams, the GNAC went 18-11 against CCAA opponents and 14-12 against opponents from the PacWest. Western Washington and Simon Fraser combined for 14 of those 32 wins, with each team going 7-2.

BUZZING INTO THE NEW YEAR: Montana State Billings is the only remaining team undefeated in conference play after picking up a pair of wins last week to improve to 13-3 on the season (4-0 GNAC). The Yellowjackets come into the week on the back of an 82-73 win over regionally ranked Central Washington last Thursday and a dominant 81-52 victory over Northwest Nazarene on Saturday, both on the road. Montana State Billings will return home this week to host Saint Martin’s on Thursday and Western Oregon on Saturday.

Now alone at the top of the GNAC standings and the D2CSC west region rankings, the No. 14 Yellowjackets are showing why they were picked as preseason favorites by conference coaches. Along with a stellar +14.4 scoring margin that ranks second in the league, MSUB has been one of the best passing teams in all of Division II. The ‘Jackets lead the GNAC and rank second in the division with a 1.44 assist to turnover ratio while also leading the conference and ranking 14th in the nation with 17.1 assists per game, showing that quality and quantity can go hand-in-hand.

Kola Bad Bear and Dyauni Boyce remain the top-scoring pair heading into the second week of the new year. Bad Bear leads the team with 16.3 points per game, a scoring rate that ranks her fifth in the GNAC. Boyce hasn’t been far off Bad Bear, scoring at a 14.9 points per-game pace to rank seventh in the conference. Against the Wildcats, Boyce flirted with perfection, missing just one field goal as she racked up 22 points on 9 of 10 from the field, including two three-pointers, and two free throws.

BITTER RIVALRY: As cold weather is set to dominate the Pacific Northwest this week, the rivalry between the Nanooks and the Seawolves is only set to raise the temperature in Anchorage on Saturday. Alaska Anchorage (8-5, 2-2 GNAC) comes into the week with renewed energy on the heels of a statement 61-54 victory over then No. 14 Western Washington last Thursday. The Seawolves followed up that performance with an 89-68 win over Simon Fraser on Saturday to extend their win streak to six games.

Thursday’s game also saw the return of senior guard Vishe’ Rabb from an ACL tear sustained in last year’s GNAC Women’s Basketball Championships. Rabb impressed on her return to the hardwood, scoring at almost a point-per -minute pace as she went 7 for 10 from the field to finish with 16 points in just 17 minutes of action. Along with her offensive output, the defense also got a bump from her presence as she snagged four rebounds and three steals.

Along with Rabb, junior guard Senya Rabouin made her mark in last week’s wins, earning GNAC Player of the Week honors for the first time since transferring from Central Arizona. Rabouin was clinical in both games last week, totaling 10 assists with zero turnovers while also pouring in 21 points to go with six assists and three rebounds against the Red Leafs.

The Nanooks (2-12, 0-4) come into Saturday’s rivalry match looking to repeat their upset from last year’s first meeting with UAA and snap a four-game skid. Alaska will look toward top scorers Kayla Johnson and Emma McKenney to bring the fight to the Seawolves on the road. Johnson ranks second on the team with 10.4 points per game and owns a .447 field goal percentage while McKenney ranks third on the team with 10.2 points per game.

WHICH WASHINGTON?: Two of the top teams in the conference will meet on Thursday as No. 21 Western Washington (10-3, 2-1) hosts regionally-ranked Central Washington (12-4, 3-1) in Bellingham. Both teams come into the matchup on the back of 1-1 weeks last time out. The Vikings fell 61-54 to UAA last Thursday before bouncing back with a decisive 86-45 win over UAF last Saturday. The Wildcats, meanwhile, dropped their game against then No. 17 MSUB 82-73 before taking a 71-61 win over SPU to wrap up the week.

Western Washington remains one of the best defensive teams in Division II and comes into the week holding opponents to an average of just 33.1% shooting from the field. They also lead the conference and rank 26th in the division with a +14.7 scoring margin through 13 games this season. Those numbers are all bolstered by the ever-dangerous Brooke Walling who paces the team with an average of 16.9 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. Along with her raw numbers, Walling is the most efficient shooter in the conference with a .639 field goal percentage.

Central Washington, on the other hand, can boast that it has two of the top-scoring players in the nation in sophomore guard Asher Cai and junior guard Sunny Huerta. Cai leads the GNAC and ranks 5th in Division II with 20.6 points per game while Huerta sits right behind her, second in the conference and eighth in the division, with 20.3 points per contest.  As a team, the Wildcats have been extremely effective from the free throw line where they lead Division II with an .824 free throw percentage.

EMERALD DAYS: After dropping a pair of contests last week, Seattle Pacific (5-9, 2-2) will return home this week to kick off a three-game homestand. The Falcons will face Western Oregon (9-5, 2-1) on Thursday before hosting Saint Martin’s (2-8, 0-3) on Saturday to begin a stretch at home set to equal their longest of the season. The stint in Seattle should be a welcome return for the Falcons who are an undefeated 4-0 at Royal Brougham Pavilion this season.

Seattle Pacific sits just outside the GNAC playoff picture in seventh place coming into the week and will look to leapfrog the fourth-place Wolves with a win on Thursday. The Falcons come into the matchup as one of the better defensive teams in the conference, allowing an average of just 60.6 points per game, but are still looking to fire up the offense early in the conference slate. Junior forward Olivia Mayer has been an offensive bright spot for the team this season, leading SPU with 13.2 points per game to rank 10th in the GNAC while also pulling in a team-leading 7.9 rebounds per contest.

Western Oregon comes into the week surging on a six-game win streak, the team’s longest since 2001, and looking to end the Falcons’ perfect home record. The Wolves captured a 54-50 win over Saint Martin’s last Saturday to give themselves a winning GNAC record for the first time this season. Senior guard Cali McClave continues to be a key leader for WOU and leads the team with 15.9 points per game to rank 10th in the conference. McClave has also been one of the best defensive players for Western Oregon and leads the GNAC with 2.6 steals per game. Sophomore forward Kiylynn Dawkins comes into the week riding a streak of her own with a double-double in each of the Wolves’ last five games.

The Saints are still looking to notch their first GNAC win of the season coming into the week and will face Montana State Billings on Thursday ahead of Saturday’s tilt with the Falcons. One of the main strengths for the Saints this season has been their blocking game. As a team, SMU ranks third in the conference with 3.8 blocks per game. Sophomore forward Sarah Lamet spearheads that defensive effort, leading the team and ranking fifth in the GNAC with 1.3 blocks per game while Anjel Galbraith heads up the Saints’ offense with 11.4 points per contest.

SEEING RED: Northwest Nazarene (5-6, 2-2) will make its annual trip north of the border to face Simon Fraser (9-7, 1-2) in Burnaby as the Nighthawks aim to establish a winning conference record and the Red Leafs look to bring theirs back to .500. Both teams come into the meeting on the back of splitting their games last week. The Red Leafs picked up a road win at Alaska, 85-74, while the Nighthawks narrowly defeated Seattle Pacific, 50-47, in Nampa.

Simon Fraser has generally performed better away from home this season but will look to turn that around as it aims to jump into the top six of the GNAC standings. The Wisotzki sisters have been the leading force for the SFU offense, with senior Jessica Wisotzki third in the conference with 18 points per game followed by junior Sophia Wisotzki in eighth with 14.7 points per game. Defensively, the Red Leafs also have one of the best defensive players in the conference in junior forward Gemma Cutler who leads the GNAC and ranks third in Division II with 44 blocks.

Northwest Nazarene’s biggest offensive weapon this season had been its long-range shooting. That effort has been led by junior Madeline Gebers with a conference-leading .481 three-point field goal percentage that also ranks eighth in the division. Gebers’ long-range scoring also sees her ranked 11th in the GNAC with 12.9 points per game as NNU’s top-scoring player. Defensively, senior guard Emma Clark has been one of the best players for NNU, leading the Nighthawks with 5.3 rebounds per game and ranking second on the squad with 1.3 steals per contest.

Player to Watch


Vishe' Rabb, Alaska Anchorage

Until last Thursday, it had been a while since GNAC fans had the opportunity to watch Vishe’ Rabb on the court. The 2023 GNAC Newcomer of the Year was an instant force for the Seawolves last season but had her debut campaign cut short in the postseason when she suffered a torn ACL in the GNAC Women’s Basketball Championships last year. Now, the senior guard is back and proving that she is still one of the most dangerous players in the conference.

In just 17 minutes of game action against then No. 14 Western Washington on Thursday in her first game back since the injury, Rabb was dominant. The senior guard from Springfield, Minn., led the team to victory with 16 points while shooting 70% from the field to go with four rebounds, three assists and three steals. Limited on time due to continued recovery, Rabb showed that she is still a game-changer that opponents will have to be aware of going forward.

Last season, Rabb often seemed to score at will, averaging 16.8 points per game to go with 6.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists per contest. Now, Rabb will look to help the Seawolves solidify themselves as a top contender once again for the GNAC Championships in March.

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.

Montana State Billings is being rewarded for its consistency and its status as the only remaining undefeated team in GNAC competition. The Yellowjackets cracked the top 10 for the first time this season in the D2CSC national rankings, passing Western Washington and rising six places from the last poll. They also leapfrogged the Vikings for the first time since late November to rank No. 14 in the WBCA national rankings. It was a second straight week for MSUB at the top of the D2CSC regional rankings.

Western Washington dipped to 21st in the WBCA national rankings after going 1-1 last week. The Vikings did move up in the D2CSC national rankings, however, jumping to No. 16, three spots higher than the last poll on Dec. 18. Western Washington retained its place in the D2CSC regional rankings at No. 2. Central Washington made it an identical ranking for all GNAC teams in the west region rankings by staying put at No. 6 after a 1-1 week of its own.

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 -- --
Dec. 19 20. WWU 21. MSUB -- --
Jan. 2 14. WWU 17. MSUB -- --
Jan. 9 14. MSUB 21. WWU -- --
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 -- --
Dec. 18 15. MSUB 19. WWU -- --
Jan. 8 9. MSUB 16. WWU -- --
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 -- --
Dec. 18 1. MSUB 2. WWU 6. CWU -- --
Jan. 8 1. MSUB 2. WWU 6. CWU -- --

GNAC Women's Basketball in the NCAA Statistical Rankings

Through games on Jan. 7.

Team Rankings (Top-30)

Assist/Turnover Ratio: 2. MSUB, 1.44; 13. WOU, 1.15
Assists Per Game: 17. MSUB, 17.1; 21. WWU, 16.6
Blocks Per Game: 1. WWU, 6.5; 8. SFU, 5.5
Field Goal Percentage Defense: 6. WWU, 33.1
Fouls Per Game: 18. CWU, 14.2; 20. SMU, 14.3
Free Throw Percentage: 1. CWU, 82.4; 5. MSUB, 79.7
Free Throws Made Per Game: 30. SFU, 15.38
Defensive Rebounds Per Game: 21. WWU, 29.4
Offensive Rebounds Per Game: 29. UAA, 14.9
Scoring Defense: 16. WWU, 55.9
Scoring Margin: 26. WWU, 14.7; 28. MSUB, 14.6
Steals Per Game: 13. UAA, 13.5
Three Point Percentage: 16. NNU, 36.5; 26. MSUB, 35.5
Three Pointers Per Game: 16. CWU, 8.2
Fewest Turnovers Per Game: 4. MSUB, 11.9; 27. WOU, 13.8

Individual Rankings (Top-30)

Assist/Turnover Ratio: 2. Layla Baumann, MSUB, 5.00; 10. Shayla Montague, MSUB, 3.33; 20. Tori Maeda, CWU, 2.85
Assists: 27. Senya Rabouin, UAA, 63
Assists Per Game: 29. Senya Rabouin, UAA, 4.8
Blocks: 3. Gemma Cutler, SFU, 44; 7. Brooke Walling, WWU, 36; 19. Tori Hollingshead, WWU, 28
Blocks Per Game: 4. Gemma Cutler, SFU, 2.93; 8. Brooke Walling, WWU, 2.77; 17. Tori Hollingshead, UAA, 2.15
Double-Doubles: 4. Brooke Walling, WWU, 7; 12. Kiylynn Dawkins, WOU, 6
Field Goal Attempts: 1. Sunny Huerta, CWU, 279; 3. Asher Cai, CWU, 260; 5. Cali McClave, WOU, 240; 14. Jessica Wisotzki, SFU, 217
Field Goal Percentage: 4. Brooke Walling, WWU, 63.9; 6. Gemma Cutler, SFU, 62.0
Field Goals: 1. Sunny Huerta, CWU, 120; 6. Asher Cai, CWU, 110; 18. Kola Bad Bear, MSUB, 95; 22. Brooke Walling, WWU, 92
Free Throw Attempts: 12. Jessica Wisotzki, SFU, 89; 18. Sophia Wisotzki, SFU, 84; 21. Kortney Nelson, MSUB, 83
Free Throw Percentage: 17. Asher Cai, CWU, 89.5; 26. Dyauni Boyce, MSUB, 88.3
Free Throws: 10. Jessica Wisotzki, SFU, 77; 16. Asher Cai, CWU, 68; 16. Sophia Wisotzki, SFU, 68; 21. Kortney Nelson, MSUB, 67
Minutes Per Game: 27. Asher Cai, CWU, 35.93
Points Per Game: 5. Asher Cai, CWU, 20.6; 8. Sunny Huerta, CWU, 20.3
Rebounds: 8. Asher Cai, CWU, 147; 17. Emma Wass, UAF, 136; 19. Capri Sims, CWU, 132; 28. Brooke Walling, WWU, 127
Defensive Rebounds Per Game: 5. Emma Wass, UAF, 8.2; 14. Asher Cai, CWU, 7.3; 15. Brooke Walling, WWU, 7.2; 30. Lauryn Morris, SMU, 6.8
Offensive Rebounds Per Game: 14. Capri Sims, CWU, 4.2; 19. Kiylynn Dawkins, WOU, 4.0
Rebounds Per Game: 20. Brooke Walling, WWU, 9.8; 24. Emma Wass, UAF, 9.7
Three Point Attempts: 9. Grace Killins, SFU, 115; 10. Asher Cai, CWU, 114; 21. Jessica Wisotzki, SFU, 98; 26. Cali McClave, WOU, 93
Three Point Percentage: 8. Madeline Gebers, NNU, 48.1
Three Pointers: 8. Asher Cai, CWU, 42; 20. Grace Killins, SFU, 35; 21. Shayla Montague, MSUB, 34; 26. Jessica Wisotzki, SFU, 33
Three Pointers Per Game: 27. Asher Cai, CWU, 262

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
Dec. 20 Brooke Walling, Western Washington
Jan. 8 Senya Rabouin, Alaska Anchorage

Player of the Week - Senya Rabouin, Alaska Anchorage

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

Rabouin led the Seawolves to a 61-54 upset of No. 14 Western Washington, before an 89-68 triumph over Simon Fraser to help UAA kick off 2024 with a pair of wins. Rabouin led all GNAC players in assists (5.0 per game) last week, totaling 10 while committing zero turnovers in her 46 minutes on the floor. Rabouin played a key role in the Seawolves’ defensive success against the Vikings, chipping in five points, four assists, two steals and a block. Rabouin was paramount in holding the Vikings, who averaged 70.1 points per game entering the week, to their lowest point total of the 2023-24 season. She followed that with her second-highest scoring total of the season, finishing with 21 points, six assists and three rebounds in the victory over the Red Leafs.

“Senya is one of the hardest workers we have,” said UAA head coach Ryan McCarthy. “It is super rare for a new player to come in and be one of the standard setters for work ethic, and she played outstanding basketball against Western and Simon. Those are two defensive teams that can cause a lot of turnovers, and Senya did a great job of taking care of the ball against both those teams. Defensively she is at the top of our press and defense. Coming from the junior college level to this level, defense is a whole different ballgame. She had to learn that at the beginning of the year, and we are seeing a new level of commitment from her on the defensive end. Her play has become a lot more consistent, and for her to quarterback us defensively was key to our success against both Western and Simon last week.”

Also Nominated: Emma McKenney, UAF; Sunny Huerta, CWU; Kola Bad Bear, MSUB; Lauryn Morris, SMU; Sophia Wisotzki, SFU; Kiylynn Dawkins, WOU; Riley Dykstra, 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