BURNABY, British Columbia (Feb. 2) – Senior center Hannah Wandersee scored a season-high 28 points and grabbed six rebounds to lead the 11th-ranked Alaska Anchorage women’s basketball team to its 12th straight victory Saturday, beating Simon Fraser 68-63 at the SFU West Gymnasium.
The Seawolves (19-1, 11-1 Great Northwest Athletic Conference) also got seven points from senior guard Sydni Stallworth – all in the final three minutes – to outscore the hosts 20-9 over the final five minutes.
The Clan (12-7, 8-4), which brought a six-game winning streak into Saturday’s contest, was led by 20 points from sophomore forward Sophie Swant, plus 12 points, seven rebounds and three assists from sophomore center Ozi Nwabuko.
With the victory, UAA remains tied for first in the GNAC with Northwest Nazarene with eight games remaining in the regular season and earns a huge edge in the race for a first-round bye in the Mar. 7-9 GNAC Tournament, having swept the season series from Simon Fraser.
“We had some major lapses late in the third quarter and continuing into the fourth, especially allowing some open three-pointers,” said UAA head coach Ryan McCarthy. “After that, though, our execution down the stretch was tremendous. Our seniors, especially, showed a lot of poise and played the kind of clutch basketball that they can take a lot of pride in.”
UAA won despite getting outshot .435 to .397 from the field, getting outrebounded 32-29, and grabbing a relatively low 10 steals.
After building a 44-34 lead late in the third quarter, the Seawolves saw Swant to get free for three straight field goals, slicing it to 44-43 with 10 minutes left.
Another Swant three-pointer gave her team the lead at 49-48, and a trey from point guard Tayler Drynan made it a 54-48 Clan advantage at the 5:15 mark.
Wandersee would answer with a midrange jumper, and senior guard Tara Thompson hit her lone shot of the game off a perfect feed from Safiyyah Yasin to slice it to a 54-53 deficit. Wandersee scored off an inbounds play and, following a Clan turnover, Stallworth nailed her first field goal of the night with a spot-up three-pointer from the wing.
Stallworth made four straight free throws to keep the Seawolves ahead in the final 25 seconds, and SFU got a long three-pointer from Jessica Jones to pull within 64-63 with seven seconds left. Jones was whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul on the inbounds play, however, as she made contact with Wandersee’s head, setting up a sequence of four straight clinching free throws for the GNAC Preseason Player of the Year.
“Hannah played like an All-American tonight from start to finish,” McCarthy added of the 5th-year senior from Kodiak, who moved into 10th place on her program’s career scoring list Saturday, now with 1,178 points. “While every win is a team effort, she certainly was head and shoulders the best player on the court for either team tonight.”
All 10 Seawolves scored at least one field goal, with Stallworth and sophomore forward Tennae Voliva accounting for seven points apiece, both in reserve rolls. Starting point guard Yazmeen Goo had six points, two assists, two steals and no turnovers, and Stallworth also collected two assists and three steals, while committing no turnovers.
UAA continues a four-game road swing next week when it travels north to face Alaska Fairbanks at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Patty Center. That game can be seen live at gnac.tv.
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