ANCHORAGE – All-tournament selections Hannah Wandersee and Shelby Cloninger combined for 27 points and 14 rebounds Thursday to lead host Alaska Anchorage to a 59-53 victory over Tulsa in the championship game of the final women’s GCI Great Alaska Shootout at the Alaska Airlines Center.
The Seawolves – ranked No. 2 in NCAA Div. II – got 14 points on 7-of-15 shooting and a pair of assists from Wandersee, while Cloninger had 13 points, seven rebounds and two blocks, earning the Shootout’s Most Outstanding Player award.
UAA celebrated its seventh title in 38 editions of the women’s Shootout, joining their Seawolf brethren from 1990, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.
The Golden Hurricane (3-3) were led by 12 points from forward Crystal Polk, and 10 points, nine rebounds and four assists from fellow all-tourney pick Shug Dickson.
Designated as a ‘discretionary exhibition’ for UAA under NCAA rules, Wednesday’s result and stats count for Tulsa but do not for the Seawolves.
“It’s kind of strange that it doesn’t count on our record because this is such a significant win for our team and this program in so many ways,” said UAA head coach Ryan McCarthy, who celebrated his first Shootout title. “In addition to building our confidence, it shows potential recruits that we are every bit as strong as half the D-I programs out there.”
In a game that featured seven ties and eight lead changes, the Seawolves had to rally from their biggest deficit of the game, 49-41, with 6 minutes remaining.
Senior guard Tara Thompson hit a three-pointer to slice it to 49-45 with 5 minutes to go, and Wandersee grabbed an offensive rebound and dished to Sydni Stallworth for a three-pointer that made it a 51-50 Tulsa lead with 2 minutes left.
Dickson was called for an offensive foul on Tulsa’s next possession, and the Seawolves took the lead when Thompson fed Cloninger for a corner three-pointer. After another defensive stop, Stallworth received an inbounds pass from Goo and converted a traditional three-point play with just 13 seconds remaining to essentially clinch it.
“That was a total team effort,” McCarthy added. “Hannah, Shelby and Tara all showed incredible veteran leadership, and Yazmeen is proving why she will be one of the best point guards in Div. II for the next three years. I’m just very proud of all of our ladies tonight.”
Thompson had 11 points on 3-of-6 three-point shooting, while Goo made the all-tournament team after tallying six points, four rebounds, four assists, four steals and just one turnover against the American Athletic Conference squad.
Stallworth – a two-time All-American at the JC level – finished with six points, four rebounds, three steals and a game-high six assists.
The Seawolves (6-0) open Great Northwest Athletic Conference play next week with a pair of home games, facing Central Washington on Thursday, Nov. 30 (5:15 p.m.) and Northwest Nazarene on Saturday, Dec. 2 (7 p.m.) at the Alaska Airlines Center.
Call 907-786-1562 for Seawolf tickets for visit GoSeawolves.com for more information.
2017 GCI Great Alaska Shootout All-Tournament Team
Shug Dickson, Tulsa
Yazmeen Goo, Alaska Anchorage
Crystal Polk, Tulsa
Hannah Wandersee, Alaska Anchorage
Imani Watkins, Binghamton
Most Outstanding Player: Shelby Cloninger, Alaska Anchorage