LA JOLLA, Calif. – Senior center Hanna Johansson scored 13 points to lead a balanced Alaska Anchorage effort Friday as the 2nd-seeded Seawolves outlasted 7th-seeded Cal State-Los Angeles for a 65-56 victory in the NCAA Division II West Regional Women’s Basketball Championships at UC San Diego's RIMAC Arena.
With the victory, nationally 8th-ranked UAA (28-4) advances to the regional semifinals for the sixth straight year, where it will meet 3rd-seeded and nationally 13th-ranked Grand Canyon (24-3) at 4 p.m. AST on Saturday.
Cal State-L.A. (18-12) was led by a game-high 17 points from guard Jazzi Johnson, but the Golden Eagles could not keep up with the Seawolves on the boards, getting outrebounded 49-31.
“We're fortunate that we got out of that game,” said Seawolves head coach Tim Moser, who improved to 12-5 in NCAA Tournament play. “I thought Cal State L.A. had a great game plan for us and they knew some of our stuff. I give them a lot of credit. Coach (Janell) Jones did a tremendous job. They put us under a lot of pressure, but we'll learn from it and hopefully we'll do better against a very good Grand Canyon team tomorrow.”
Johansson – the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Year and a First Team All-West Region selection – helped the Seawolves overcome an early 9-4 deficit to forge a 29-23 halftime lead, tallying 11 of her 13 points and all of her seven rebounds and three assists in the opening 20 minutes.
CSULA played a more aggressive defense in the second half, forcing UAA to commit 24 turnovers in the game. But the Seawolves took advantage of the Eagles' closing-half shooting woes by draining their shots from both the arc and the charity stripe. The Eagles shot a dismal 8 for 29 (27.6 percent) from the paint in the second half.
UAA maintained its lead throughout the second half, leading by as many as 14 when senior guard/forward Tijera Mathews hit a free throw with 3:04 remaining to make it 56-42.
The Eagles whittled the lead down to eight at 59-51 when Johnson drilled both of her free throws with 52 seconds to play, but they could get no closer.
Junior point guard Sasha King tallied 12 points and tied her career-high with six rebounds for UAA, while junior guard Haley Holmstead overcame early foul trouble to finish with 10 points, two assists and three steals.
The Seawolves also got huge contributions off the bench from the trio of Mathews, Alysa Horn and Kylie Burns, who combined for 25 points and 15 rebounds.
Moser said the Seawolves will need to put in a better effort on defense if they hope to beat Grand Canyon on Saturday.
“We’ve got to take care of the ball,” Moser said. “We’ve got to do the things that got us here. We’ve just got to relax and understand that it's just another game.”
The Seawolves-Antelopes regional-semifinal clash can be heard locally in Anchorage on FM-89.3 KATB, viewed via online videostream, or followed via live stats. All links can be found at GoSeawolves.com or UCSDtritons.com.