Top Teams Hit The Road For Another Week of GNAC Action
Western Washington will hit the road this week as it tries to chase down 6-0 Montana State Bililngs at the top of the GNAC standings.
Western Washington will hit the road this week as it tries to chase down 6-0 Montana State Bililngs at the top of the GNAC standings.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024
by Thomas Lal

PORTLAND, Ore. – Montana State Billings and Western Washington are both set to hit the road this week as they aim to maintain their places at the top of the GNAC standings ahead of the chasing pack.

The Yellowjackets lead the way at the top of the conference standings with a perfect 6-0 record coming in the week. The Vikings aren’t far behind as they hit the road with a 4-1 record. The road could prove to be a critical battleground for the championship hope of both teams after both have been impressive at home. Montana State Billings has compiled a 4-1 away record while looking for its second GNAC regular season championship and Western Washington owns a 4-2 road record in the hunt for its seventh.

Central Washington will be aiming to make up ground in the standings as the only two teams above it in the standings it the road while the Wildcats make a return to Nicholson Pavilion. Elsewhere around the league, Northwest Nazarene, Saint Martin’s Western Oregon will also return home for a pair of games. Seattle Pacific is one of two teams with a bye this week, but will face a big challenge as No. 14 MSUB rolls in Royal Brougham on Saturday.

GNAC Women's Basketball Schedule - Jan. 18-20
  Thursday, Jan. 18
Saturday, Jan. 20
Host Opponent Time Opponent Time
CWU UAA 7:00 p.m. UAF 4:00 p.m.
NNU UAF 7:00 p.m. UAA 7:00 p.m.
SMU #21 WWU 5:15 p.m. SFU 3:00 p.m.
SPU Bye -- #12 MSUB 2:00 p.m.
WOU SFU 5:15 p.m. #21 WWU 2:00 p.m.

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

This Week's Storylines

No. 14 Montana State Billings (15-3, 6-0 GNAC) and No. 21. Western Washington (12-3, 4-1) will both be on the road this week after notching two home victories last time out. The Yellowjackets are set to take on Seattle Pacific for their only game of the week on Saturday while the Vikings will face Saint Martin’s on Thursday before a Saturday meeting with Western Oregon.

The Yellowjackets come into the week as the only team undefeated in conference play after taking a 73-42 win over Saint Martin’s and an 86-59 win over Western Oregon last week. The two wins extended MSUB’s winning streak to five games, the second longest in the GNAC.  Montana State Billings has been one of the most consistent teams in all of Division II, leading the conference and ranking 23rd in the nation with an .833 winning percentage. The Yellowjackets also rank second in Division II with a 1.44 assist to turnover ratio, fourth with just 12.1 turnovers per game and 10th with a .368 three-point percentage.

Junior guard Kortney Nelson has been one of the best passing players for MSUB this season, leading the team and ranking eighth in the GNAC with 3.2 helpers per game. Along with her passing prowess, Nelson also chips in for an average of 9.1 points per contest. Meanwhile, the bulk of the offensive effort continues to be driven by Kola Bad Bear (16.2 ppg) and Dyauni Boyce (15.2 ppg).

Western Washington will hit the road as the only team in the conference with an undefeated home record after taking a 100-75 victory over Central Washington last Thursday and an 88-60 win over Northwest Nazarene on Saturday. Junior guard Riley Dykstra picked up GNAC Player of the Week honors for her efforts in the wins, the third such honor to head to Bellingham this season. On the week, Dykstra averaged 19 points and 3.5 rebounds per game while shooting an impressive 70% from three-point range.

As a team, the Vikings remain one of the top offensive teams in the GNAC, scoring an average of 73.7 points per game. They also lead the conference and rank 14th in the division with a +16.3 scoring margin and are ninth in the nation with a .468 shooting percentage from the field. Western Washington backs up outstanding scoring with a robust defensive game that sees the Vikings ranked No. 2 in Division II with 6.1 blocks per game and No. 6 with a field goal percentage defense of .334.

REGIONAL IMPACT: Both Central Washington (13-5, 4-2) and Alaska Anchorage (9-5, 3-2) come into Thursday’s matchup receiving votes in the D2CSC regional rankings. The Wildcats come into the week at No. 7, their sixth straight week in the top 10, while the Seawolves are receiving votes for the first time since Nov. 28 after extending their win streak to a conference-leading seven games.

Despite splitting its games last week, the Central Washington offense continues to boast two of the top-scoring players in all of Division II. Sophomore guard Asher Cai leads the team and ranks fifth in the division with 20.2 points per game while junior guard Sunny Huerta is second in the conference and 19th in the nation with 19.3 points per contest. This season, Cai has also shown that her abilities go beyond just scoring as she pulls in an average of 8.7 rebounds per game to rank third in the GNAC. Helping make the offense click on a consistent basis is senior guard Tori Maeda who paces the team and is third in the conference with a 2.5 assist to turnover ratio.

Alaska Anchorage comes into the week after defeating in-state rival Alaska 84-55 last Saturday. Over the last two weeks, the Seawolves have been bolstered by the return of 2023 GNAC Newcomer of the Year Vishe’ Rabb while junior transfer Senya Rabouin has been making her own case for 2024 conference newcomer honors. Rabouin has had an impressive debut campaign for UAA, leading the team with 13.3 points and 67 total assists. Her 4.8 assists per game also lead the GNAC and rank 30th in Division II.

HOME TEST: Seattle Pacific (6-10, 3-3) will face possibly its biggest challenge of the season thus far as it hosts No. 14 Montana State Billings for its only game of the week on Saturday. The Falcons come into their matchup with the nationally-ranked Yellowjackets on the heels of a 1-1 week where they beat Western Oregon 57-52 before falling 55-52 to Saint Martin’s.

The Seattle Pacific offense has been led by junior forward Olivia Mayer with an average of 14.3 points per game. That scoring average also sees her ranked No. 9 in the conference while her 7.8 rebounds per contest also lead the team and rank fifth in the conference. Mayer has finished with double-digit points in each of the Falcons’ last five games, including a GNAC career-high of 25 points against Saint Martin’s last week.

ON THE FRINGE: Western Oregon (9-7, 2-3) and Simon Fraser (9-9, 1-4) both sit just outside the top six in the conference standings in seventh and eighth respectively heading into their meeting in Monmouth on Thursday. Both teams also come into the week after dropping both of their contests last week and looking to get back in the win column.

The Wolves will have the homecourt advantage on Thursday where they own an 8-1 record. That home record is tied for the most home wins of any team in the conference along with Montana State Billings and Western Washington. As a team, Western Oregon has one of the better defenses in the GNAC, ranking third with a .388 field goal percentage defense.

The Wolves are also one of the best passing teams in the conference, ranking second in the league with a 1.1 assist to turnover ratio that is spearheaded by Ana McClave. The junior guard paces the team and is fourth in the GNAC with a 2.3 ratio of her own. Offensively, older sister Cali McClave leads the team with 15.5 points per game to rank sixth in the conference. Cali McClave has been the model of consistency for the Wolves, notching double-digit points in all but two of WOU’s 16 games this season. 

The Red Leafs’ roster also features a pair of sisters leading the charge. Senior guard/forward Jessica Wisotzki leads the team and is third in the conference with 17.6 points per game as the driving force behind SFU’s offense. A constant threat to score, the elder Wisotzki sister has also been effective at drawing fouls and converting on her opportunities from the free-throw line. On the season, she leads the GNAC and ranks 10th in Division II with 86 total free throws made.

Junior guard Sophia Wisotzki has also been racking up points and ranks second in the GNAC with 14.4 points per game. The younger Wisotzki sister has also been one of the top passing players for the Red Leafs and ranks second on the team with 2.6 assists per game. Defensively, Sophia Wisotzki averages 1.4 steals per game to tie for 13th in the league.

NORTHERN LIGHTS COME TO NAMPA: Northwest Nazarene (6-7, 3-3) has maintained a .500 record through the early part of the conference slate and will look to string together a pair of GNAC wins for the first time this season as it hosts Alaska and Alaska Anchorage this week. The Nighthawks took a hard-fought 61-60 victory at Simon Fraser last Thursday before falling 88-60 to No. 21 Western Washington on Saturday.

This week sees NNU facing Alaska on Thursday ahead of a matchup with a surging Alaska Anchorage team. The Nighthawks will look to maintain their strong three-point shooting that sees the team ranked third in the conference with a .341 three-point percentage. The long-range effort has been led by junior guard/forward Madeline Gebers with 50% shooting from beyond the three-point arc and an average of 2.54 three-pointers per game. Gebers’ strong perimeter offense sees her ranked No. 10 in the conference with 13.5 points per game.

The Nanooks come into Thursday’s contest still looking for their first conference win of the season after dropping its game against Alaska Anchorage 85-55 last week. The Nanooks have two players in the top 25 of GNAC scoring leaders with senior guard Emma McKenney 24th (9.9 ppg) and sophomore forward Kayla Johnson 25th (9.7 ppg). On the boards, senior forward Emma Wass continues to be one of the premier rebounds players in the conference, ranking second in the league with 9.7 rebounds per game behind only Western Washington’s Brooke Walling.

IN THE WIN COLUMN: Saint Martin’s (3-9, 1-4) picked up its first win of the conference slate last week with a 55-52 victory over Seattle Pacific. The Saints will have a big test ahead of them this week as they host nationally ranked Western Washington on Thursday and Simon Fraser on Saturday.

Junior forward Shalyse Smith was a big part of the Saints’ win last Saturday, leading the team with 21 points while going 10 for 14 from the field. Smith narrowly missed out on a double-double as she finished the game with nine rebounds along with two steals and a block. Senior guard Anjel Galbraith backed up Smith with 13 points, six rebounds, three steals and three assists in the victory. On the season, Galbraith leads the team and ranks fourth in the conference with 3.5 assists per game.

Player to Watch


Olivia Mayer, Seattle Pacific

A junior transfer from Whitworth, Mayer has consistently been the best player on the court for Seattle Pacific as the Falcons aim to make the GNAC Championships for a third straight year. Mayer has been the top-scoring player for SPU in each of the Falcons’ last six games and has been their top rebounder in eight of the team’s 16 total contests. On the season, she leads the team and ranks ninth in the conference with 14.3 points per game and is fifth in the league with 7.8 assists per game.

Mayer put together one of her best individual performances of the season last week against Saint Martin’s, leading all players with a GNAC career-high 25 points while going 10 for 16 from the field. The performance marked Mayer’s fifth consecutive game scoring in the double digits in a season where she has only been held to single-digit scoring three times. Mayer has six double-doubles on the season to tie for second in the conference and 24th in Division II. The Falcons will need Mayer to continue her recent run of form as they take on nationally ranked Montana State Billings for their lone game of the week on Saturday.

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.

With two more wins under its belt Montana State Billings continues to make progress up the national rankings, moving up to No. 12 in the WBCA poll and No. 8 D2CSC poll. The Yellowjackets also remained No. 1 in the D2CSC west region ranking for the third week in a row followed by Western Washington at No. 2 in the region. The Vikings stayed steady at No. 21 in the WBCA national rankings but moved up two places to No. 14 in the D2CSC national rankings after taking two wins of their own last week. Central Washington remained in the top 10 of the D2CSC regional poll for the eighth consecutive week at No. 7 while Alaska Anchorage received votes for the first time since Nov. 28, 2023.

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 -- --
Jan. 16 12. 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 -- --
Jan. 17 8. MSUB 14. 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 -- --
Jan. 16 1. MSUB 2. WWU 7. CWU RV UAA --

GNAC Women's Basketball in the NCAA Statistical Rankings

Through games on Jan. 14.

Team Rankings (Top-30)

Assist/Turnover Ratio: 2. MSUB, 1.44; 12. WOU, 1.13
Assists Per Game: 4. WWU, 18.5; 10. MSUB, 17.5; 22. UAA, 16.7
Bench Points Per Game: 20. UAA, 29.4
Blocks Per Game: 2. WWU, 6.1; 6. SFU, 5.7
Field Goal Percentage: 9. WWU, 46.8
Field Goal Percentage Defense: 6. WWU, 33.4
Fewest Fouls Per Game: 19. SMU, 14.3; 22. CWU, 14.4
Free Throw Percentage: 2. CWU, 80.6; 5. MSUB, 79.1
Free Throws Made Per Game: 25. SFU, 15.28
Rebound Margin: 26. WWU, 7.3
Defensive Rebounds Per Game: 15. WWU, 29.9
Offensive Rebounds Per Game: 30. UAA, 15.1
Scoring Margin: 14. WWU, 16.3; 15. MSUB, 16.2; 24. UAA, 14.6
Steals Per Game: 10. UAA, 14.0
Three Point Percentage: 10. MSUB, 36.8; 24. CWU, 35.4
Three Pointer Per Game: 18. CWU, 8.3; 25. MSUB, 7.8
Turnover Margin: 25. UAA, 5.14
Turnovers Forced Per Game: 24. UAA, 22.43
Fewest Turnovers Per Game: 4. MSUB, 12.1
Winning Percentage: 23. MSUB, 83.3

Individual Rankings (Top-30)

Assist/Turnover Ratio: 6. Shayla Montague, MSUB, 3.40; 19. Kortney Nelson, MSUB, 2.68; 28. Tori Maeda, CWU, 2.53
Assists Per Game: 30. Senya Rabouin, UAA, 4.9
Blocks: 4. Gemma Cutler, SFU, 46; 7. Brooke Walling, WWU, 39; 23. Tori Hollingshead, UAA, 30
Blocks Per Game: 5. Gemma Cutler, SFU, 2.88; 9. Brooke Walling, 2.60; 18. Tori Hollingshead, UAA, 2.14
Double-Doubles: 4. Brooke Walling, WWU, 9; 24. Kiylynn Dawkins, WWU, 6; 24. Olivia Mayer, SPU, 6
Field Goal Attempts: 1. Sunny Huerta, CWU, 315; 3. Asher Cai, CWU, 286; 4. Cali McClave, WOU, 275; 18. Jessica Wisotzki, SFU, 237; 30. Sophia Wisotzki, SFU, 222
Field Goal Percentage: 1. Brooke Walling, WWU, 65.7; 6. Gemma Cutler, SFU, 60.8
Field Goals: 4. Sunny Huerta, CWU, 127; 5. Asher Cai, CWU, 121; 18. Brooke Walling, WWU, 109; 19. Kola Bad Bear, MSUB, 107
Free Throw Attempts: 12. Jessica Wisotzki, SFU, 100; 27. Sophia Wisotzki, 90
Free Throw Percentage: 21. Asher Cai, CWU, 88.4; 27. Sunny Huerta, CWU, 87.1
Free Throws: 10. Jessica Wisotzki, SFU, 86; 17. Asher Cai, CWU, 76; 27. Sophia Wisotzki, SFU, 72
Minutes Per Game: 28. Anjel Galbraith, SMU, 35.82
Points Per Game: 5. Asher Cai, CWU, 20.2; 19. Sunny Huerta, CWU, 19.3
Rebounds: 14. Asher Cai, CWU, 156; 20. Brooke Walling, WWU, 150; 27. Capri Sims, CWU, 146; 27. Emma Wass, UAF, 146
Defensive Rebounds Per Game: 5. Emma Wass, UAF, 8.1; 12. Brooke Walling, WWU, 7.3; 26. Asher Cai, CWU, 6.9
Offensive Rebounds Per Game: 18. Capri Sims, CWU, 4.0
Rebounds Per Game: 12. Brooke Walling, WWU, 10.0; 25. Emma Wass, UAF, 9.7
Three Point Attempts: 11. Asher Cai, CWU, 124; 12. Grace Killins, SFU, 123; 23. Cali McClave, WOU, 108; 30. Jessica Wisotzki, SFU, 104
Three Point Percentage: 4. Madeline Gebers, NNU, 50.0; 7. Aspen Giese, MSUB, 46.4
Three Pointers: 9. Asher Cai, CWU, 45; 26. Grace Killins, SFU, 37
Three Pointers Per Game: 29. Madeline Gebers, NNU, 2.54

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
Jan. 15 Riley Dykstra, Western Washington

Player of the Week - Riley Dykstra, Western Washington

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

Dykstra was paramount in leading the Vikings to a pair of convincing victories over the weekend, as WWU topped Central Washington 100-75 on Thursday before beating Northwest Nazarene 88-60 on Saturday. Dykstra started her week with 15 points, six assists and three rebounds in the win over the Wildcats, going 5-for-6 from 3 point range in just 23 minutes on the floor. She followed with a season-high 23 points on 10-for-13 shooting against the Nighthawks while adding four more assists and four more rebounds. Across the two games, Dykstra averaged 19.0 points, 5.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds and shot 71.4 percent (15-for-21) including 70.0 percent (7-for-10) from beyond the arc.

“She has had a lot of confidence these last three games,” WWU head coach Carmen Dolfo said, referring to Dykstra’s scoring average of 19.3 dating back to Jan. 6. “After our tough loss at Anchorage she turned a corner and has stepped up. She has shot the ball so well, and one of her greatest attributes is her passing. It’s great to see her playing with confidence and believing in herself. She has been such a game-changer for us in the last two games with how she’s played.”

Also Nominated: Senya Rabouin, UAA; Emma Wass, UAF; Asher Cai, CWU; Aspen Giese, MSUB; Madeline Gebers, NNU; Shalyse Smith, SMU; Olivia Mayer, SPU; Jessica Wisotzki, SFU.

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

WEST REGION SUCCESS: 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.

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