LA JOLLA, Calif. – Senior center Hannah Wandersee scored 22 points and sophomore forward Tennae Voliva tied a career high with nine rebounds to help 3rd-seeded Alaska Anchorage hold on for a 76-69 victory over 6th-seeded Hawaii Pacific in the NCAA Div. II Women’s Basketball West Regional Championships first round Friday at RIMAC Arena.
The nationally 8th-ranked Seawolves (29-2) also got 10 points, four assists, two steals and no turnovers from junior point guard Yazmeen Goo as they advanced to Saturday’s 4 p.m. ADT regional semifinal against 2nd-seeded Northwest Nazarene (29-2).
The Sharks (23-9) were led by 18 points from guard Starr Rivera and 15 points and 11 rebounds from senior and Pacific West Conference Tournament MVP Breanna Mackenzie, but the Honolulu school could not come all the way back from an 18-point, first-half deficit.
“That was definitely not our best basketball game of the season, but we made some plays and hit some big free throws down the stretch, just enough to get away with the win,” said UAA head coach Ryan McCarthy, whose team earned its fourth straight first-round NCAA victory.
Hawaii Pacific – which lost 65-54 at UAA on Nov. 24 – came out of the gates quickly, hitting four of its first five shots for a 9-4 lead. McCarthy used an early timeout, however, and his team responded with a dominant stretch over the next 10 minutes.
Goo made a steal and layup to tie it 11-11 and UAA took a 19-12 lead after one quarter. Senior guard Kian McNair started the second quarter with two straight layups as the Seawolves put together a 26-3 run, going up 30-12 at the 7:24 mark.
UAA led 37-19 after junior guard Safiyyah Yasin scored five straight points, but the Sharks ended the half on a 9-0 run to tighten it up.
A three-pointer from Yasin made it a 45-30 Seawolf lead with 6:28 left in the third quarter, and the Seawolves clung to a 55-47 edge with 10 minutes remaining.
Goo gave UAA a 70-60 lead on a layup at the 3:52 mark, however that would be her team’s final field goal, and four straight Alysha Marcucci free throws helped HPU sliced it to 72-69 with 53 seconds left.
Senior guard Sydni Stallworth drew a non-shooting foul with 31 seconds remaining and sank both free throws to make it a two-possession game, and Wandersee grabbed a defensive rebound on Rivera’s missed three-pointer at the other end. The Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Year sank two free throws with 17 seconds remaining for the game’s final points.
“There were definitely some first-game jitters out there,” said Wandersee, who moved up to No. 8 on UAA’s career scoring list (1,339 pts) and set a program record with her 134th game in a Seawolf uniform Friday. “Once we got past that, I think the experience of our veterans really paid off, and we were able to settle down and play our normal game.”
Stallworth finished with nine points and four assists, Voliva had seven points on 3-of-4 shooting, and McNair tallied eight points, five rebounds and three steals as UAA improved to 10-0 all-time against HPU, including their second NCAA first-round win over the Sharks in the past three seasons.
Saturday’s regional semifinals will be streamed live online at UCSDTritons.tv, with live stats available at UCSDTritons.com.
|2018-19 Media Guide||2018-19 Recap
|Live Stats||Live Video|
|GNAC Standings||HERO Rankings|
|NCAA D-II Poll||Summer Camps
|Alaska Airlines Center|