NAMPA, Idaho – Northwest Nazarene’s McKenna Walker and Lexi Tubbs paced a blistering three-point performance Thursday as the Nighthawks pulled even atop the Great Northwest Athletic Conference women’s basketball standings with a 104-78 win over No. 4 Alaska Anchorage at the Johnson Sports Center.
The visiting Seawolves (24-3, 17-2 GNAC) were led by 17 points and seven rebounds from senior forward Shelby Cloninger, but West Region’s top-ranked squad was outscored 58-34 in the second half. Junior center Hannah Wandersee had 13 points and five rebounds for UAA, which suffered its first 20-point loss since a 76-49 home setback to NNU on Jan. 17, 2013.
The Nighthawks (21-3, 17-2) got 28 points from Tubbs on 5-of-9 three-point shooting, while Walker finished with 24 points and connected on all five of her treys, leading a 16-of-27 (.593) long-range display.
With Thursday’s result, the teams would tie for the GNAC title with identical outcomes in the regular-season finales Saturday. NNU tips off one hour earlier, at 5 p.m. AST, against Alaska Fairbanks (4-21, 0-19), while UAA plays at Central Washington (15-12, 11-8), with a 6 p.m. AST tip set in Ellensburg.
“We didn’t play our best in a big game, and to beat an elite shooting performance, we need to be better focused,” said UAA head coach Ryan McCarthy, whose team has won three straight outright GNAC regular-season titles. “We will learn from this and still have an opportunity to accomplish our goals.”
The Seawolves closed the first half with an 11-3 run to pull within 46-44 at the break, led by 15 points on 5-of-7 accuracy from Cloninger. But the Seawolves’ second-leading scorer picked up her second foul early in the second half and made just a pair of free throws the rest of the way.
Freshman guard Sala Langi matched her career high with 10 points (4-4 FT), while sophomore point guard Yazmeen Goo had 10 points, five rebounds, four assists and pair of steals. Junior guard Kian McNair grabbed five of UAA’s 15 steals, however that was offset by 23 turnovers.
All of Saturday’s regular-season GNAC finales can be seen live on gnac.tv, while the following week UAA will host the eighth annual GNAC Championships at the Alaska Airlines Center, Mar. 1-3. Tickets are on sale now for the 12-team, 10-game event by calling 907-786-1562 or visiting GoSeawolves.com or AlaskaAirlinesCenter.com.
NOTES: The Seawolves suffered just their 10th loss of any kind since the start of the 2014-15 season, but still stand with an NCAA Div. II-best 121-10 record over that span … UAA gave up 100 points for the first time since a 113-51 loss at Western Oregon on Dec. 6, 2001 (the first season of GNAC play), snapping a 509-game streak of holding opponents under the century mark … the 104 points matches UAA’s fourth-most points allowed and the second most to a fellow D-II foe … Goo moved into the top 15 on UAA’s career assists list, now with 234.