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The Seawolves wave to their supporters at RIMAC Arena in La Jolla, Calif., after capturing the 2012 NCAA Division II West Regional championship game over host UC San Diego on Mar. 12.
Courtesy: Andy Wilhelm

Women celebrate 'Elite' season

Courtesy: UAA Sports Information
Release: 04/14/2012
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ANCHORAGE - Senior Hanna Johansson received the Most Valuable Player award Saturday as the Alaska Anchorage women’s basketball team celebrated its 2011-12 season at its annual team banquet at the Petroleum Club. Other individual honors went to seniors Tijera Mathews and Kaylie Robison, junior Jordan Martin, sophomore Kylie Burns and freshman Gritt Ryder.

Johansson, a 6-2 center, was named MVP after averaging team-highs of 14.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, helping the Seawolves back to the NCAA Elite Eight for the second time in her career and the third time in the last five seasons. The Gothenburg, Sweden, native became the second player in program history to earn All-America honors and was the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Year, leading UAA to a 30-5 overall record and the GNAC regular-season and tournament titles.

Johansson finished as UAA’s all-time leader in individual victories (112) and games played (133), along with top-10 ranks in 12 more categories, including points (7th, 1,393), rebounds (2nd, 808), steals (5th, 195), blocks (5th, 70), assists (9th, 247), field-goal pct. (4th, .533), free throws made (6th, 333), games started (5th, 99) and double-doubles (t-7th, 17). Her other senior accolades included Capital One Third Team Academic All-American, consensus First Team All-West Region, and West Regional Tournament MVP.

Best Defensive Player went to Mathews, who ranked second on team and 16th in the GNAC with 1.5 steals per game, plus third on team and 12th in the league with 0.5 blocks per contest. The 5-10 wing from Palmdale, Calif. (PHS/Antelope Valley JC) scored double figures eight times and grabbed five or more rebounds on 10 occasions, helping UAA lead the nation in scoring margin at 21.9 points per game. Mathews delivered one of her best defensive performances in UAA’s 68-63 road win over 4th-ranked UC San Diego in West Regional title game, including the game-clinching block with 5 seconds left.

The Coaches’ Award, bestowed for commitment to the team concept, went to Robison for the second straight year. The 6-foot forward from Sandy, Utah (Jordan HS/Coll. of Eastern Utah) was an All-GNAC Honorable Mention pick, averaging 8.9 points and 7.5 rebounds while starting all 35 games. Robison also set led the GNAC and set UAA season (.597) and career (.550) records for field-goal percentage, while collecting six double-doubles.

Ryder, from Rungsted Kyst, Denmark, earned the Most Improved Player award after posting 5.7 points, 2.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game, while shooting 82 percent at the free-throw line. After averaging 3.7 points through the first 19 games, the GNAC Freshman of the Year doubled her pace to 8.1 ppg over the final 16 contests.

Martin, a junior from East Anchorage High School, was dubbed the team’s Most Inspirational Player for the second straight season. In her fourth season with the program, the 5-6 guard played in 22 games, posting impressive shooting numbers of 7-for-9 field goals, 4-for-5 three-pointers and 5-for-6 free throws.

Burns, a sophomore guard from Kansas City, Kan. (Bishop Ward HS), received the Ms. Hustle award after appearing in all 35 games and averaging 4.6 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 0.9 steals. The GNAC All-Academic Team honoree also contributed heavily to UAA’s league-best team stats in scoring defense (55.0) and steals per game (11.3).

The MVP, defensive, inspirational and improved awards were chosen by a vote of team players.

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