ANCHORAGE – Senior guard Sydni Stallworth scored 13 points and 6th-ranked Alaska Anchorage overcame a cold-shooting night to clinch a share of its fifth consecutive Great Northwest Athletic Conference women’s basketball regular-season title with a 64-55 victory over 5th-ranked Northwest Nazarene at the Alaska Airlines Center on Thursday.
The Seawolves (26-1, 18-1 GNAC) also got eight points and six steals from junior point guard Yazmeen Goo to extend their winning streak to 19 games and avenge their only loss of the season, an 84-68 setback at NNU on Dec. 1.
The Nighthawks (25-2, 17-2) were led by 11 points from junior guard Avery Albrecht as the defending regular-season co-champions were hurt by 25 turnovers and outscored 26-16 at the free-throw stripe.
“I think I’ve been obsessing about this game since December,” said UAA’s Ryan McCarthy, who earned his 200th career victory against his alma mater and the program he led as a rookie head coach in 2010-11. “That was one ugly shooting performance, but we really had a great defensive effort and won this one on the offensive boards. We outscored them 13-4 on second-chance points and that was the exact difference.”
UAA won despite an ice-cold start from inside the arc, missing 17 of its first 18 two-point attempts. The Seawolves started 6 of 11 from long range, however, and outscored the Nighthawks 21-13 in the second quarter to take a 34-28 halftime lead.
NNU sliced its deficit to 38-35 on a layup by Marina Valles, but the Seawolves answered with a 10-2 surge over the next six minutes, earning their largest lead at 48-37 on a layup from freshman Kimani Fernandez-Roy.
The Seawolves would go into another shooting slump in the final quarter as NNU cut it to a two-point game on two occasions. Clinging to a 52-50 edge as the game hit the 5-minute mark, UAA senior center Hannah Wandersee – who last week became the winningest player in program history – sank a baseline jumper to double the lead. It was the only field goal Wandersee would score all night and that UAA would make in the final quarter, but it turned out to be enough as the Seawolves finished the game by making nine of 10 free throws.
Sophomore forward Sala Langi swished a pair to put UAA up 57-52 with 2:10 left, and Goo added two more following a defensive stop.
Despite getting outshot .439 to .296 from the floor, the Seawolves collected a 16-6 advantage in offensive rebounding.
Wandersee finished with seven points and tied NNU’s Ellie Logan for game-high honors with seven rebounds, while junior guard Safiyyah Yasin had eight points for UAA. Senior guard Kian McNair dished a game-high six assists and grabbed three steals to extend her streak of multi-steal performances to 19 in a row.
Logan finished with eight points for the Nighthawks, who were held 30 points under their nationally 4th-ranked scoring average of 85.0 per game.
UAA can clinch its fourth outright regular-season title in the last five seasons with a victory in its ‘Senior Night’ finale Saturday against Central Washington. Tip is set for 7 p.m. at the Alaska Airlines Center.
Call 907-786-1562 or visit GoSeawolves.com or AlaskaAirlinesCenter.com for tickets.