LACEY, Wash. – Haley Holmstead scored a game-high
22 points and Kaylie Robison came up with several key plays late to help 8th-ranked
Alaska Anchorage hold on for a 74-70 victory over Simon Fraser in the Great
Northwest Athletic Conference Women’s Basketball Championships at Marcus
Pavilion on Friday night.
The top-seeded Seawolves (26-4) also got 12 points from freshman guard Gritt Ryder and 10 points from senior forward Hanna Johansson as they advanced to a rematch of the 2011 title game against Western Washington. UAA and WWU will tip off at 6:30 p.m. AST on Saturday, with the game airing live on ROOT Sports and on the Anchorage radio dial at FM-93.7.
The 5th-seeded Clan (17-11) were led by 21 points apiece from center Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe and points guard Kristina Collins as they nearly rallied all the back from an early 29-9 deficit.
UAA – the nation’s leader in margin of victory – led from the start and appeared ready to make it a rout, but the Canadians got hot from three-point range and sliced it to a 40-31 game at halftime.
The Seawolves extended their lead as high as 18 points in the second half before hitting an offensive lull over the last 12 minutes. The Clan, meanwhile, drained four of their eight three-pointers after the break and cut their deficit to single digits, 63-54, at the 5:40 mark.
UAA had a 68-60 lead with under one minute to play, but the Seawolves could not clinch it from the free-throw line and allowed SFU to get within four points on three occasions. The Clan could never make it a one-possession game, though, and wound up losing despite a 39-32 rebounding advantage.
With UAA struggling for baskets in the late-going, Robison came up with three of her four field goals and grabbed several of her eight rebounds in the final seven minutes.
“I thought our energy at the start was terrific, but I’m disappointed that we couldn’t put them away, obviously,” said UAA head coach Tim Moser. “Simon Fraser is an extremely savvy and well-coached team, and they deserve a lot of the credit for making us fight so hard tonight.
“Luckily, Kaylie made some big plays down the stretch with her rebounding and defense, and we got just enough points from Haley to win it.”
Junior forward Alysa Horn added nine points on 4-of-8 shooting and seven rebounds, and point guard Sasha King finished with eight points and four assists.
Saturday’s title game will pit the top two seeds against each other for the second straight year. Last year, the Seawolves went to Bellingham, Wash., for a true road game and upset the Vikings, 68-67, in the inaugural GNAC title game.
Both the women’s and the men’s GNAC championships games – each featuring UAA – will also be shown live on the big screen at The Peanut Farm, 5227 Old Seward Highway.
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