LACEY, Wash. – Autummn Williams scored 21 points and fellow senior Kiki Robertson had 13 points and six steals Friday to lead top-seeded Alaska Anchorage to a 76-68 victory over 5th-seeded Seattle Pacific in the 2017 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament semifinals at Marcus Pavilion.
The nationally 2nd-ranked Seawolves (28-1) also got nine points from sophomore forward Hannah Wandersee and eight points apiece from Tara Thompson and Alysha Devine to advance to Saturday’s 4:15 p.m. AST championship game against 2nd-seeded and 17th-ranked Western Washington (25-4).
The regionally 10th-ranked Falcons (20-11) were led by 11 points and six rebounds from guard Jordan McPhee as they overcame a 13-0 hole and forged a 40-40 halftime tie behind 58 percent shooting in the opening 20 minutes.
UAA clamped down on defense in the third quarter, scoring the first eight points and holding SPU to just four points on 2-of-10 shooting in the period. Shelby Cloninger (6 points, 5 rebounds) started the deciding surge with a 12-foot jumper, followed quickly by another bucket from Williams. Devine would score on a putback with 39 seconds left in the quarter, and Williams made it 56-44 when she converted a long pass from Robertson in the final seconds.
The Seawolves held on to a double-digit lead until the Falcons sliced it to 67-58 with 3:15 remaining, but Thompson grabbed an offensive rebound and UAA burned a full minute off the clock before Robertson beat the shot clock with an off-balance, baseline jumper.
“We were really bad defensively in the second quarter but I thought our ladies did a great job of making adjustments and communicating there in the third quarter,” said UAA head coach Ryan McCarthy, whose team extended its school-record 24-game winning streak. “SPU is a veteran, well coached team, so playing that kind of game can only make us better as we prepare for Western (Washington) tomorrow and the NCAAs next week.”
Robertson – the two-time GNAC Defensive Player of the Year and two-time reigning GNAC Tournament MVP – tied the league tourney record with her six swipes, despite playing just 21 minutes and picking up a third foul late in the first half. She finished 3 of 5 from the floor and made all six of her free throws, while Williams – a unanimous First Team All-GNAC selection – shot 8 of 20, with five steals and four rebounds.
Meanwhile, Thompson shot 3 of 4 overall and 2 of 3 from long range, along with five rebounds, and freshman point guard Yazmeen Goo collected four points and three assists.
The Seawolves will try for their third straight GNAC Tournament title and fifth in seven years when they face the Vikings on Saturday. UAA swept the Vikings during the regular season, 80-69 in Anchorage on Dec. 3, and 75-72 in double-overtime in Bellingham on Feb. 23. The teams – which own all six previous GNAC Tournament title between them – have met three previous times in the event, with UAA prevailing in the 2011, 2012 and 2015 title games.
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