Nationally Ranked Clash Headlines Week of Women’s Hoops
No. 9 Montana State Billings will be in Bellingham on Saturday night to face no. 17 Western Washington in one of the premier matchups of the conference season.
No. 9 Montana State Billings will be in Bellingham on Saturday night to face no. 17 Western Washington in one of the premier matchups of the conference season.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024
by Thomas Lal

PORTLAND, Ore. – The stage is set for possibly the biggest game of the GNAC women’s basketball regular season on Saturday night in Bellingham as No. 17 Western Washington hosts No. 9 Montana State Billings.

The two teams sit comfortably atop the GNAC standings coming into the week with the Yellowjackets leading the way courtesy of an undefeated 7-0 record in conference play (16-3 overall). The Vikings have dropped just one GNAC game all season to sit second with a 6-1 conference record (14-3 overall) and have enjoyed a strong homecourt advantage this season.

 Entering the week, WWU is a perfect 8-0 at Carver Gym and has not lost a game at home since Feb. 16, 2023. The kicker? That loss came at the hands of the Yellowjackets on an overtime dagger from long range. The Vikings avenged that loss by defeating MSUB 76-71 in the final of the GNAC Championships last season to claim their third tournament title. There’s no guarantee of revenge or a perfect home streak on Saturday night, but there is almost certainly a guarantee of another all-time GNAC classic.

Junior guard Aspen Giese dealt the final blow for the Yellowjackets in their last win against WWU, knocking down a three-pointer with just a tenth of a second left in overtime. Giese will be back on Saturday in the midst of a season where she is averaging 9.9 points per game and shooting a team-leading 44.7% from beyond the three-point arc. Perhaps the biggest threat to WWU’s perfect home record, however, is MSUB’s top-scoring duo of Kola Bad Bear and Dyauni Boyce. Bad Bear paces the team and ranks fifth in the GNAC with 16.6 points per game and is backed up by Boyce’s 14.8 points per game which ranks seventh in the league.

The Vikings bring their own elite scoring threat into the game in senior forward Brooke Walling. The Vancouver, Wash., native has notched double-digit points in all but one of the Vikings’ 17 games this season and leads the team with 16.4 points per game while leading Division II by shooting 63.6% from the field. Walling’s consistent scoring ranks her fourth in the league but she also excels on the boards where she leads the conference with 9.5 rebounds per contest. Factor in three more Vikings who average at least 10 points a night in Mason Oberg, Aspen Garrison and Riley Dykstra along with a defense that is among the best in the nation, and you have a showdown that is worth way more than the price of admission.

GNAC Women's Basketball Schedule - Jan. 25-27
  Thursday, Jan. 25
Saturday, Jan. 27
Host Opponent Time Opponent Time
UAA WOU 5:15 p.m. SMU 5:15 p.m.
UAF SMU 5:15 p.m. WOU 3:00 p.m.
NNU Bye -- CWU 1:15 p.m.
SFU #9 MSUB 7:00 p.m. SPU 7:00 p.m.
#17 WWU SPU 7:00 p.m. #9 MSUB 7:00 p.m.

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

GNAC Women's Basketball Standings As Of Wednesday, Jan. 24
GNAC Record
Overall Record
GNAC Win Percentage Overall Win Percentage
MSUB 7-0 16-3 1.000 .842 W6
WWU 6-1 14-3 .857 .824 W5
UAA 5-2 11-5 .714 .688 W9
CWU 5-3 14-6 .625 .700 W1
NNU 4-4 7-8 .500 .467 L1
SPU 3-4 6-11 .429 .353 L2
SFU 2-5 10-10 .286 .500 L1
WOU 2-5 9-9 .286 .500 L4
SMU 2-5 4-10 .286 .286 W1
UAF 0-7 2-15 .000 .118 L7


This Week's Storylines


FROM DOWNTOWN: Northwest Nazarene’s Madeline Gebers has been not only good from long range, but she’s been the best. After averaging 20 points last week in the Nighthawks 1-1 week, the junior guard/forward from Kennewick, Wash., leads all of Division II with a .531 three-point field goal percentage through 15 games. Gebers has been the offensive catalyst for NNU all season, averaging 14.4 points per game on the season to rank eighth in the GNAC, and also leads the league with a .935 free throw percentage. Gebers leads NNU into a week where it will play just one game against Central Washington on Saturday as the Nighthawks look to move about .500 in league play.

WINS, WINS, WINS: Alaska Anchorage (11-5, 5-2) comes into the week riding a GNAC-leading nine-game win streak ahead of hosting Western Oregon on Thursday and Saint Martin’s on Saturday. The current streak began with a pair of non-conference victories against Clarion on Dec. 8&10, 2023 and matches the longest for the team since stringing together 26 wins from Jan. 25, 2020-Dec. 17, 2021. Junior forward/center Tori Hollingshead has been a big part of that recent success, leading the team with 12.9 points per game, and earned GNAC Player of the Week honors for her role in wins over Central Washington and Northwest Nazarene last time out.

SAINTS’ HOPES ALIVE: Heading into the halfway point of the season, Saint Martin’s (4-10, 2-5) looks to be finding its form. The Saints took No. 17 Western Washington to the wire last Thursday, narrowly falling 52-49 after holding the Vikings to their lowest-scoring game of the season. They backed up that momentum by taking a 77-61 victory over Simon Fraser on Saturday to pull themselves into a three-way tie for seventh in the GNAC standings. Senior guard Anjel Galbraith has been a workhorse for SMU this season, leading the team with 11.5 points per game and ranking 22nd in Division II by averaging 36.40 minutes per contest.

TAKING IT TO THE LINE: Simon Fraser’s (10-10, 2-5) offense has been led by senior guard/forward Jessica Wisotzki who ranks third in the conference with 17.6 points per game. Her offensive numbers have been bolstered by over 100 trips to the free throw line which she has converted on 98 times to rank ninth in Division II. Younger sister Sophia Wisotzki has also been exceptional from the stripe, racking up 80 made free throws as she ranks second on the team with 14.4 points per contest. Defensively, Gemma Cutler has been one of the best in the business leading in the GNAC and ranking fifth in Division II with 50 total blocks. Cutler also leads the conference and ranks sixth in the division with 2.78 blocks per game while maintaining her status as a top-three scoring threat for SFU.

NEVER A DULL MOMENT: Seattle Pacific (6-11, 3-4) will face its second top-25 opponent in two weeks as it faces No. 17 Western Washington on Thursday. The Falcons hold the final spot in the GNAC Championships in sixth heading into the halfway mark of the conference slate, but will face stiff competition down the stretch and a matchup with seventh-place Simon Fraser on Saturday. Junior forward Olivia Mayer has undeniably been the best player for SPU this season, leading the team in scoring (14.2 per game), rebounding (7.7 per game), steals (2.4 per game) and minutes played (30.4 per game). The Falcons will hope that Mayer, along with top-three SPU scoring threats Schuyler Berry and Hunter Beirne, bring their top game this week as they hunt down the team’s first road win of the season.

CONNECTING THE DOTS: Central Washington (14-6, 5-3) sits fourth in the GNAC standings and comes into the week boasting the two top scorers in the conference but is still looking for consistency. Even with sophomore guard Asher Cai leading the GNAC with 19.7 points per game and junior guard Sunny Huerta right behind with 18.7 points per game, the Wildcats have yet to string together two wins since the start of the new year. They will have a chance to rectify that this week as they face Northwest Nazarene in their only game of the week on Saturday. High scoring and staying out of foul trouble have been the recipe for success for CWU as they rank 17th in Division II with 8.3 three-pointers per game and are 19th in the division with just 14.4 fouls per contest. Defensively, Cai leads the team with an average of nine rebounds per game and is backed up by freshman Capri Sims with 8.3 boards per contest.

THE PACK HEADS NORTH: Western Oregon (9-9, 2-5) will make its annual trip up to Fairbanks to face Alaska (2-15, 0-7) on Saturday. The Wolves come into the matchup led by senior guard Cali McClave who ranks sixth in the GNAC with 16 points per game while the Nanooks are led by senior Emma McKenney and sophomore Kayla Johnson with 9.6 and 9.5 points per game, respectively. Western Oregon has maintained its status as one of the better passing teams in the conference, dishing out 15.6 assists per game on average. That effort has been led by WOU junior guard Triniti Youngblood with an average of 3.6 helpers per contest. Alaska, meanwhile, has been one of the more reliable teams in the conference from the free throw line, shooting 71.4% from the stripe to rank fifth in the GNAC. McKenney leads the way there as well, shooting 83.3% from the line on the season.

Player to Watch


Gemma Cutler, Simon Fraser

Cutler, a junior forward from North Vancouver, B.C., has been one of the best all-around players for Simon Fraser this season. She ranks third on the team and 13th in the conference with an average of 12 points per game and backs up that offensive effort with a strong defensive game that sees he rank fifth in the country with 50 total blocks. Cutler has also been one of the best rebounding players in the conference, pulling in an average of 7.7 boards per game to lead the Red Leafs and rank seventh in the GNAC. On the season, Cutler has led SFU in rebounding in 10 of the team’s 20 games. Simon Fraser will look to Cutler to maintain her strong play this week as the Red Leafs return home to host No. 9 Montana State Billings on Thursday and Seattle Pacific 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.

After taking another resounding victory last week, Montana State Billings is continuing its climb up the polls. The Yellowjackets cracked the top 10 for the first time this season in the WBCA national rankings at No. 9, the highest rank for any GNAC team this season. They also rose to No. 7 in the D2CSC national rankings, once again the highest that a GNAC team has featured in the poll this season. In the D2CSC regional rankings, MSUB held steady at No. 1 for a fourth consecutive week ahead of No. 2 Western Washington.

The Vikings, meanwhile, moved up four places in the WBCA national rankings to No. 17 and slipped one place to No. 15 in the D2CSC regional rankings despite taking two more wins last week. Alaska Anchorage made a strong return to the top 10 of the D2CSC regional rankings to a season-high No. 6 in the poll after two more wins last time out. Central Washington retained a top 10 regional ranking at No. 7 in the poll.

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 -- --
Jan. 23 9. MSUB 17. 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 -- --
Jan. 23 7. MSUB 15. 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 --
Jan. 22 1. MSUB 2. WWU 6. UAA 7. CWU --

GNAC Women's Basketball in the NCAA Statistical Rankings

Through games on Jan. 22.

Team Rankings (Top-30)

Assist/Turnover Ratio: 2. MSUB, 1.43; 14. WOU, 1.14
Assists Per Game: 6. WWU, 18.3; 12. MSUB, 17.4
Bench Points Per Game: 18. UAA, 29.8
Blocks Per Game: 3. SFU, 5.8; 4. WWU, 5.7
Field Goal Percentage: 8. WWU, 46.6
Field Goal Percentage Defense: 11. WWU, 34.2
Fewest Fouls Per Game: 19. CWU, 14.4; 28. UAF, 14.8
Free Throw Percentage: 4. MSUB, 79.3; 13. CWU, 78.2; 28. SFU, 76.4
Free Throws Made Per Game: 27. SFU, 15.20
Rebound Margin: 20. WWU, 7.5
Defensive Rebounds Per Game: 20. WWU, 29.2
Offensive Rebounds Per Game: 30. UAA, 15.1
Scoring Defense: 22. MSUB, 56.8; 25. WWU, 57.2
Scoring Margin: 14. MSUB, 16.6; 18. WWU, 15.5; 21. UAA, 14.2
Steals Per Game: 8. UAA, 14.4
Three Point Percentage: 13. MSUB, 36.2; 25. NNU, 35.3
Three Point Percentage Defense: 24. MSUB, 25.7
Three Pointers Per Game: 17. CWU, 8.3; 25. MSUB, 7.9
Turnover Margin: 15. UAA, 6.06
Turnovers Forced Per Game: 17. UAA, 23.06
Fewest Turnovers Per Game: 5. MSUB, 12.2; 24. WOU, 13.6
Winning Percentage: 21. MSUB, 84.2; 27. WWU, 82.4

Individual Rankings (Top-30)

Assist To Turnover Ratio: 5. Shayla Montague, MSUB, 3.40; 27. Kortney Nelson, MSUB, 2.54
Blocks: 5. Gemma Cutler, SFU, 50; 12. Brooke Walling, WWU, 40; 18. Tori Hollingshead, UAA, 36
Blocks Per Game: 6. Gemma Cutler, SFU, 2.78; 12. Brooke Walling, WWU, 2.35; 15. Tori Hollingshead, UAA, 2.25
Double Doubles: 7. Brooke Walling, WWU, 9
Field Goal Attempts: 1. Sunny Huerta, CWU, 344; 2. Asher Cai, CWU, 321; 4. Cali McClave, WOU, 312; 16. Jessica Wisotzki, SFU, 257
Field Goal Percentage: 1. Brooke Walling, WWU, 63.6; 9. Gemma Cutler, SFU, 60.0; 29. Tori Hollingshead, UAA, 55.2
Field Goals: 5. Sunny Huerta, CWU, 137; 7. Asher Cai, CWU, 132; 15. Brooke Walling, WWU, 114; 20. Cali McClave, WOU, 114; 28. Kola
Bad Bear, MSUB, 112
Free Throw Attempts: 14. Jessica Wisotzki, SFU, 114
Free Throws: 9. Jessica Wisotzki, SFU, 98; 27. Sophia Wisotzki, SFU, 80
Minutes Per Game: 22. Anjel Galbraith, SMU, 36.40
Points Per Game: 12. Asher Cai, CWU, 19.47; 27. Sunny Huerta, CWU, 18.7
Rebounds: 12. Asher Cai, CWU, 180; 23. Capri Sims, CWU, 165; 28. Brooke Walling, WWU, 162
Defensive Rebounds Per Game: 9. Emma Wass, UAF, 7.6; 18. Asher Cai, CWU, 7.3; 23. Brooke Walling, WWU, 6.8
Offensive Rebounds Per Game: 15. Capri Sims, CWU, 4.1; 28. Tori Hollingshead, UAA, 3.8
Rebounds Per Game: 29. Brooke Walling, WWU, 9.5
Three Point Attempts: 6. Asher Cai, CWU, 146; 11. Grace Killins, SFU, 137
Three Point Percentage: 1. Madeline Gebers, NNU, 53.1; 11. Aspen Giese, MSUB, 44.2
Three Pointers: 9. Asher Cai, CWU, 50; 25. Madeline Gebers, NNU, 43; 27. Grace Killins, SFU, 42
Three Pointers Per Game: 13. Madeline Gebers, NNU, 2.87

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
Jan. 22 Tori Hollingshead, Alaska Anchorage

Player of the Week - Tori Hollingshead, Western Washington

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

The Seawolves extended their winning streak to nine games last week, thanks in large part to the key contributions by Hollingshead off the bench. She kicked off the week with an 18-point, 12-rebound double-double in the Seawolves’ 68-62 road win over Central Washington, while adding four blocks and matching her season high with four steals. The junior followed with 17 points and eight boards in UAA’s 79-63 triumph over Northwest Nazarene, adding two more blocks and two more steals. Overall on the week Hollingshead made 15 of 26 shots (57.7%) while averaging 17.5 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.0 blocks and 3.0 steals. Hollingshead’s production and efficiency was off the charts, as she filled the stat sheet in both games despite playing just 48 total minutes on the week.

Also Nominated: Kayla Johnson, UAF; Asher Cai, CWU; Kola Bad Bear, MSUB; Madeline Gebers, NNU; Sarah Lamet, 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

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