The defending national runner-up Seawolves (30-1) also got seven points, six rebounds, five assists and no turnovers from senior point guard Kiki Robertson as they advanced to play Great Northwest Athletic Conference rival Simon Fraser (25-7) in Saturday’s second regional semifinal at 7:30 p.m. AST.
The Sharks (21-7) were led by 15 points and four assists from junior point guard Spencer Gary, plus 10 points and six rebounds from senior forward Aminata Cole, who played her final collegiate game in her hometown.
Coming in with a school-record 25-game winning streak and unbeaten in 29 games against NCAA Div. II competition, the Seawolves scored the game’s first seven points, including a bank-in three-pointer by Williams to excite a season-high home crowd of 1,849.
The Sharks stormed back with eight straight points, however, and surged ahead 26-18 midway through the second quarter, hitting their first four three-point tries.
UAA clamped down defensively at that point, holding the Sharks without a point the rest of the half, and Williams hit a three-pointer that teased the rim before falling through with one second remaining, giving the hosts a 27-26 edge.
Thompson hit a short jumper in the lane to start the second half scoring as the Seawolves continued their run, pushing the lead to 43-30 late in the third quarter. The sophomore from Anchorage sank one of four second-half three-pointers to give UAA its largest lead at 46-30, before Hawaii Pacific answered quickly on a layup by Sarah Liva at the 8:30 mark of the fourth, breaking a 19 minute, 32-second field goal drought.
The visitors from the Pacific West Conference sliced their deficit to four points with just 60-56 with 18 seconds remaining, but the Seawolves hung on by making 3 of 4 free throws to end it.
With the victory, UAA claims its second consecutive 30-win season and the third in school history, along with a 30-5 campaign by its 2007-08 NCAA semifinalist squad.
Williams – a unanimous First Team All-GNAC pick and the GNAC Tournament MVP – shot 7 of 14 from floor and 7 of 10 from the free throw line, along with two her team’s 11 steals. Thompson shot 4 of 9 on treys, while senior forward Alysha Devine chipped in six rebounds a two key blocked shots.
UAA’s regional semifinal against Simon Fraser can be seen live over the internet at gnac.tv or portal.stretchinternet.com/uaa. The Seawolves defeated Simon twice during the regular season – 75-59 on Nov. 30 in Anchorage, and 77-72 on Feb. 25 in the regular-season finale in Canada.