ANCHORAGE – Junior guard Kian McNair scored a career-high 16 points and sophomore point guard Yazmeen Goo did a little bit of everything Thursday to help nationally 4th-ranked Alaska Anchorage to an impressive 73-47 rout of regionally ranked Seattle Pacific in women’s basketball action at the Alaska Airlines Center.
The Seawolves (23-2, 16-1 Great Northwest Athletic Conference) also got 12 points, five rebounds and three blocks from junior center Hannah Wandersee as they avenged their lone league setback and clinched a bye for the GNAC Tournament, set for Mar. 1-3 at their own Alaska Airlines Center.
The Falcons (18-6, 12-5) – No. 6 in the first NCAA Div. II West Region rankings – were led by seven points and five rebounds from reserve forward Erica Pagano, but the visitors were outrebounded 43-28 and outshot .477 to .315. Playing for the first time without injured senior point guard Rachel Shim, SPU was also forced into 22 turnovers by UAA’s full-court press.
“As you could imagine, our ladies were extremely hungry to play them after they beat us down there (a 66-48 loss Jan. 20 in Seattle),” said UAA head coach Ryan McCarthy, who improved to 12-1 against SPU. “You could tell from the start tonight that we had a focus and intensity that our coaching staff has been looking for out of this team. I’m really proud of this effort, all the way around.”
A transfer from Div. I Portland State, McNair topped her previous career high by one point on 6-of-10 shooting, while playing just 15 minutes. Wandersee shot 6 of 12 from the floor, and junior point guard Sydni Stallworth added eight points on 3-of-5 shooting, four rebounds and three assists off the bench.
SPU led only briefly, 4-3, before Rodericka Ware canned a three-pointer to start an 8-0 Seawolf run. UAA led 19-11 after 10 minutes and held the visitors to 2-of-9 shooting in the second quarter to grab a 35-18 halftime lead.
Shelby Cloninger converted an offensive rebound to make it 43-23, and the Seawolves grabbed their largest lead at 55-25 on a McNair layup with 1:46 left in the third quarter.
Goo continued to wow the home crowd with eight points on 4-of-6 shooting, plus team-highs of six rebounds, seven assists and five steals, while senior guard Kaitlyn Hurley had eight points on 3-of-5 shooting and a career-high four steals.
With the victory, the regionally 2nd-ranked Seawolves improved their GNAC home-court winning streak to 19 games and can now finish no worse than second in the final league standings. Still clinging to a one-game lead over regionally 5th-ranked Northwest Nazarene, UAA is chasing its fourth consecutive regular-season and tournament titles.
Although guaranteed more home games in the GNAC Tournament and possibly the NCAA West Regional Championship (Mar. 9-12), the Seawolves will celebrate their three seniors prior to Saturday’s regular-season home finale at the Alaska Airlines Center – a 7 p.m. tip against Saint Martin’s.
For Seawolf or GNAC Tournament tickets, call 907-786-1562 or visit GoSeawolves.com or AlaskaAirlinesCenter.com.