Seawolves Spoil WWU Home Record, Open Door For MSUB
Alaska Anchorage handed Western Washington its second conference loss in roughly a month, allowing Montana State Billings to take first place in the GNAC standings.
Alaska Anchorage handed Western Washington its second conference loss in roughly a month, allowing Montana State Billings to take first place in the GNAC standings.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024
by Thomas Lal

PORTLAND, Ore. – Roughly one month after handing Western Washington its first loss of the conference slate, Alaska Anchorage went into the Vikings’ house and did it again, spoiling WWU’s perfect home record and allowing Montana State Billings to reclaim sole possession of first place in the GNAC standings.

The Seawolves are now responsible for both of the Vikings’ only GNAC losses and half of their total losses on the season. Alaska Anchorage sits third in the standings coming into the week with a 7-4 conference record (13-7 overall) behind No. 14 MSUB’s 10-1 GNAC mark (19-4 overall) and No. 19 WWU’s 9-2 conference record (17-4 overall). Behind the leading trio, a four-way battle for fourth place in the standings rages between Central Washington, Simon Fraser, Northwest Nazarene and Seattle Pacific who all own a 5-6 GNAC record.

GNAC Women's Basketball Schedule - Feb. 8-10
  Thursday, Feb. 8
Saturday, Feb. 10
Host Opponent Time Opponent Time
UAF Bye -- UAA 3:00 p.m.
CWU SFU 5:15 p.m. #19 WWU 4:00 p.m.
NNU #19 WWU 5:15 p.m. SFU 5:15 p.m.
SMU SPU 7:00 p.m. #14 MSUB 5:15
WOU #14 MSUB 7:00 p.m. SPU 2:00 p.m.

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

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.

This Week's Storylines

Montana State Billings (19-4, 10-1 GNAC) sits alone atop the GNAC standings once again after taking a 79-57 win over Northwest Nazarene last Thursday and a 75-70 victory over Central Washington last Saturday. The Yellowjackets will be back on the road this week as they look to hold the top spot while facing Western Oregon on Thursday and Saint Martin’s on Saturday.

Montana State Billings has been one of the highest-scoring teams in the GNAC all season and earns a good chunk of its points each night from beyond the three-point arc. Coming into the week, MSUB leads the conference and ranks 13th in Division II with a .361 three-point percentage and also ranks 14th in the nation with a +15.2 scoring margin. Senior forward Kola Bad Bear leads the team individually with 16.9 points per game while shooting 43.5% from long range.

MIXING UP THE MATH: Alaska Anchorage (13-7, 7-4) has been making moves during the conference slate and pulled off its second upset of the season against Western Washington last Saturday in Bellingham as part of its 1-1 week. The Seawolves will look to put some distance between themselves and the chasing pack this week as they travel to Fairbanks for a rivalry matchup with the Nanooks for their lone game of the week on Saturday.

Heading into Saturday’s game, Alaska Anchorage is led by junior guard Senya Rabouin with an average of 12.6 points per game while also leading the team with 4.3 assists per game. The Seawolves’ defensive effort has been led by junior forward/center Tori Hollingshead with 6.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocked shots per contest. The Nanooks are led by senior guard Emma McKenney with an average of 10.8 points per game while the team’s defense is spearheaded by senior forward Emma Wass with a GNAC-leading 9.5 rebounds per game

TIGHT IN THE TABLE: With four teams tied for fourth place in the GNAC standings, the door is wide open in the race for the postseason. Both Central Washington (14-9, 5-6) and Northwest Nazarene (8-10, 5-6) will play host to another member of that tied group in Simon Fraser (5-6, 13-11). The Wildcats will host the Red Leafs on Thursday while the Nighthawks will host them on Saturday.

Central Washington comes into the week looking to snap a three-game skid as it returns to action in Nicolson Pavilion for the first time in two weeks. The Wildcats are paced by the GNAC’s leading scorer in sophomore guard Asher Cai with 20.3 points per game. Cai has also been a magnet on the boards, pulling in 8.8 rebounds per game to rank third in the league. She ranks sixth in all of Division II in scoring and is 22nd in the division with 202 total rebounds on the season.

Simon Fraser comes into Ellensburg trending in the opposite direction as winners of its last three contests, the longest active win streak of any team in the conference. The Red Leafs swept the Alaska schools last week with a 79-72 overtime win over the Seawolves on Thursday and an 83-68 victory over the Nanooks on Saturday. The team’s scoring is paced by sisters Jessica and Sophia Wisotzki who average 18 and 16 points per game, respectively. Junior forward Gemma Cutler has been a two-way threat for SFU this season, leading the team with 7.3 rebounds per contest while also chipping in 10.9 points per contest.

Northwest Nazarene is also looking to get back in the win column and break free of the tied pack this week. The Nighthawks continue to be one of the most efficient shooting teams in the conference, ranking fourth with a .461 field goal percentage and a .337 three-point percentage. Freshman guard/forward Kendall Clark leads the team with a .518 field goal percentage while averaging 12.2 points per game. Junior guard/forward Madeline Gebers, meanwhile, leads the team with 13.9 points per contest and a .485 three-point percentage.

VIKINGS HIT THE ROAD: After falling to second place in the GNAC standings last week, Western Washington (17-4, 9-2) will be on the road this week as it looks to stay in the regular season title hunt. Western Washington dropped its only home loss of the season last Saturday, 77-69, to Alaska Anchorage last Saturday. The Vikings own a 6-2 away record coming into Thursday’s game at Northwest Nazarene and Saturday’s matchup at Central Washington.

Western Washington remains one of the best defensive teams in the nation, leading the conference and ranking 25th in Division II with a .355 field goal percentage defense. The defense has been led by Brooke Walling with 9.4 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game while Stephanie Peterson adds 2.6 steals per contest to lead the Vikings in that category. Walling also leads the team with 16.9 points per game while shooting 63% from the field to rank sixth in Division II.

LOOKING TO FLY THE TIE: Seattle Pacific (8-13, 5-6) also finds itself as part of the battle for fourth place in the conference standings. The Falcons will aim to make separate themselves from the rest of the group as they hit the road to face Saint Martin’s on Thursday and Western Oregon on Saturday. If the Falcons find a victory away from home, it will be their first road win of the season as they enter a critical stretch of GNAC play.

If SPU does find that win, then junior forward Olivia Mayer will likely be a big part of the reason why. The Spokane, Wash., native earned her first GNAC Player of the Week honors after leading the Falcons to wins over both Central Washington and Northwest Nazarene in Seattle last week. Across those games, Mayer averaged 26 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. On the season, Mayer leads the team with 15.1 points per contest while shooting 46.6% from the field.

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY: Western Oregon (10-11, 3-7) and Saint Martin’s (5-12, 3-7) both sit in a tie for eighth in the GNAC standings and will both face No. 14 Montana State Billings and Seattle Pacific this week. The Wolves will begin their week hosting the nationally-ranked Yellowjackets while the Saints host the Falcons on Thursday in Lacey. The two teams sit two wins behind the four-way tie for fourth in the conference standings coming into the week.

Western Oregon has been paced by one of the top scoring players in the conference with Cali McClave averaging 17 points per game to rank fourth in the conference while also pulling in 4.9 rebounds per contest. In addition to her offense, McClave has maintained her status as one of the most dangerous players in the GNAC without the ball, swiping 2.4 steals per game. Kiylynn Dawkins leads the team on the boards and checks in at No. 10 in the league with 6.7 rebounds per game.

The Saints’ offense is led by Anjel Galbraith with 11.1 points per game as the senior guard is one of three players to have started every game of the season for SMU. That consistent scoring and starting role sees Galbraith leading the league with an average of 36.3 minutes per night. Lauryn Morris leads the team in rebounding with an average of 7.1 boards per game while also chipping in 8.5 points per contest.    

Player to Watch


Kortney Nelson, Montana State Billings

A native of Scobey, Mont., Nelson has been a key part of the Yellowjackets’ consistent success this season. Proof of the junior guard’s influence for MSUB is clearly reflected in her team-leading 29.5 minutes per night. On the season, Nelson is averaging nine points per game, but her efforts in helping her teammates score and her reliability point to her being a well-rounded player for the first-place Yellowjackets. She leads the team with 70 total assists and an average of three helpers per game while allowing just 1.4 turnovers per contest. She has also been one of the best in business from the free throw line, racking up a .835 shooting percentage in over 100 chances from the stripe.

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.

A 1-1 week for Western Washington saw the Vikings get leapfrogged by Montana State Billings in all three polls this week while the Yellowjackets resumed sole possession for first place in the GNAC standings. The ‘Jackets rose to No. 14 in the WBCA national rankings and moved up two spots to No. 17 in the D2CSC national poll. After one week at No. 3 in the D2CSC regional poll, MSUB finds itself in familiar territory back in the top two of the ranking.

Western Washington dropped its second game of the season to Alaska Anchorage last Saturday as the Seawolves held steady at No. 9 in the region, dropping WWU to No. 3 in the west. The Vikings sit at No. 19 in the WBCA national rankings and No. 23 in the D2CSC national poll with plenty of time remaining to make up ground in the rankings. Meanwhile, Central Washington maintained its perfect record of receiving votes in the D2CSC west region poll for an 11th straight week despite dropping its last three games.

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 -- --
Jan. 30 13. WWU 17. MSUB -- --
Feb. 6 14. MSUB 19.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 -- --
Jan. 30 11. WWU 19. MSUB -- --
Feb. 6 17. MSUB 23. 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 --
Jan. 29 1. WWU 3. MSUB 9.UAA 10. CWU --
Feb. 5 2. MSUB 3. WWU 9. UAA RV CWU --

GNAC Women's Basketball in the NCAA Statistical Rankings

Through games on Feb. 4.

Team Rankings (Top-30)

Assist/Turnover Ratio:
6. MSUB, 1.30; 9. WOU, 1.22; 26. WWU, 1.06
Assists Per Game: 4. WWU, 18.6; 14. MSUB, 17.1; 24. WOU, 16.1
Bench Points Per Game: 17. UAA, 29.0
Blocks Per Game: 2. SFU, 5.9; 9. WWU, 5.2
Field Goal Percentage: 5. WWU, 47.3
Field Goal Percentage Defense: 25. WWU, 35.5
Fewest Fouls Per Game: 27. MSUB, 14.6
Free Throw Percentage: 2. MSUB, 80.6; 8. CWU, 78.1
Free Throws Made Per Game: 27. MSUB, 15.17
Rebound Margin: 21. MSUB, 7.4; 25. WWU, 6.8
Defensive Rebounds Per Game: 16. UAF, 29.5
Offensive Rebounds Per Game: 21. UAA, 15.3
Scoring Margin: 14. MSUB, 15.2; 19. WWU, 13.9
Steals Per Game: 8. UAA, 13.8
Three Point Attempts Per Game: 26. CWU, 24.1
Three Point Percentage: 13. MSUB, 36.1; 24. WWU, 34.8; 26. CWU, 34.7
Three Pointers Per Game: 14. CWU, 8.3; 21. MSUB, 8.0
Turnover Margin: 25. UAA. 4.80
Turnovers Forced Per Game: 20. UAA, 22.40
Fewest Turnovers Per Game: 16. WOU, 13.2; 17. MSUB, 13.2
Winning Percentage: 26. MSUB, 82.6; 29. WWU, 81.0

Individual Rankings (Top-30)

Assist To Turnover Ratio: 4. Shayla Montague, MSUB, 3.17; 20. Stephanie Peterson, WWU, 2.49
Blocks: 4. Gemma Cutler, SFU, 64; 15. Brooke Walling, WWU, 44; 22. Tori Hollingshead, UAA, 41
Blocks Per Game: 6. Gemma Cutler, SFU, 2.91; 17. Brooke Walling, WWU, 2.10; 19. Tori Hollingshead, UAA, 2.05
Double-Doubles: 7. Brooke Walling, WWU, 11
Field Goal Attempts: 1. Sunny Huerta, CWU, 386; 2. Cali McClave, WOU, 385; 3. Asher Cai, CWU, 375; 11. Sophia Wisotzki, SFU, 323; 26. Jessica Wisotzki, SFU, 308
Field Goal Percentage: 3. Brooke Walling, WWU, 63.0
Field Goals: 7. Asher Cai, CWU, 157; 8. Sunny Huerta, CWU, 154; 13. Brooke Walling, WWU, 148; 16. Cali McClave, WOU, 143; 27. Kola Bad Bear, MSUB, 139
Free Throw Attempts: 25. Jessica Wisotzki, SFU, 129
Free Throw Percentage: 21. Dyauni Boyce, MSUB, 87.6; 23. Asher Cai, CWU, 87.5
Free Throws: 15. Jessica Wisotzki, SFU, 109
Minutes Per Game: 27. Anjel Galbraith, SMU, 36.19
Points Per Game: 6. Asher Cai, CWU, 20.3; 29. Sunny Huerta, CWU, 18.2
Rebounds: 22. Asher Cai, CWU, 202; 27. Emma Wass, UAF, 200
Defensive Rebounds Per Game: 6. Emma Wass, UAF, 7.9; 18. Asher Cai, CWU, 7.2
Offensive Rebounds Per Game: 19. Capri Sims, CWU, 3.9
Rebounds Per Game: 29. Emma Wass, UAF, 9.5
Steals: 24. Stephanie Peterson, WWU, 55
Three Point Attempts: 7. Asher Cai, CWU, 169; 15. Grace Killins, SFU, 158
Three Point Percentage: 4. Madeline Gebers, NNU, 48.5; 23. Mason Oberg, WWU, 40.2
Three Pointers: 8. Asher Cai, CWU, 61; 29. Jessica Wisotzki, SFU, 52
Three Pointers Per Game: 26. Madeline Gebers, NNU, 2.67; 28. Asher Cai, CWU, 2.65

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
Jan. 29 Stephanie Peterson, Western Washington
Feb. 5 Olivia Mayer, Seattle Pacific

Player of the Week - Olivia Mayer, Seattle Pacific

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

Mayer propelled the Falcons to a pair of victories last week, scoring 52 total points including a season-high 31 in SPU’s 73-71 win over Northwest Nazarene. The 12-for-17 shooting performance came two nights after she recorded a 21-point, 10-rebound double-double in a 76-65 triumph over Central Washington. Across the two games, Mayer led all GNAC players in scoring (26.0 ppg) and was fifth in rebounding (8.5 rpg) while shooting 57.6% from the floor. The junior upped her season scoring average to 15.1 points per game, ranking her eighth in the conference.

“She’s a sneaky, quiet scorer and she fills up the stat sheet in almost every game,” said SPU head coach Mike Simonson. “She can score in a variety of ways. Against NNU she was the hot hand in the fourth quarter, and she elevated and hit all the big shots to get us back into the game. She ultimately got us in a position to win that game in the end. This just shows you she has such a knack for impacting the game. At Whitworth she played the 5, and for us she is in a totally different role with a brand new style. Throughout the entire year she has found ways to affect the game in so many different areas. I’m so proud of her, because her game evolves week to week. Since she arrived at SPU she has really blossomed.”

Also Nominated: Senya Rabouin, UAA; Emma McKenney, UAF; Asher Cai, CWU; Kola Bad Bear, MSUB; Lauryn Morris, SMU; Sophia Wisotzki, SFU; Cali McClave, WOU; Brooke Walling, WWU.

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.