ANCHORAGE (Nov. 22) – Senior forward Shelby Cloninger scored a career-high 19 points and senior guard Kaitlyn Hurley had a huge all-around effort to lead host Alaska Anchorage to a 69-59 victory over Maryland Eastern Shore on Tuesday in the first round of the GCI Great Alaska Shootout at the Alaska Airlines Center.
After trailing by seven points in the first half, the Seawolves (6-0) – ranked No. 2 in NCAA Div. II – used a 10-0 run midway through the third quarter to take the lead for good and claim their 38th victory all-time against NCAA Div. I competition.
The Hawks (1-3), from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, were led by 17 points on 8-of-15 shooting and eight rebounds from reserve forward Bairesha Gill-Miles, but the visitors were outscored 36-12 from the three-point line.
“That was a terrific team effort,” said UAA head coach Ryan McCarthy, whose squad advances to Thursday’s 2:30 p.m. title game against Tulsa. “Our ladies are starting to learn that they can be a special team if they play within themselves and follow the game plan. I think everyone fulfilled their roles tonight, and Shelby and Kaitlyn got the hot hand offensively.”
Cloninger, a Preseason All-Great Northwest Athletic Conference selection, nailed her first four three-pointers to keep UAA close early, finishing 6 of 8 overall and 5 of 6 from long range. The Idaho native added seven rebounds and two steals to earn GCI Player of the Game honors.
Meanwhile, Hurley scored 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting (4-7 3FG), along with five rebounds, three assists, no turnovers, two blocks and one of UAA’s 14 steals. The Roy, Utah, product nailed her final trey to make it 57-47 with 9 minutes remaining, and the Hawks could get no closer than seven points the rest of the way.
The Seawolves also got a boost from true freshman forward Sala Langi, who scored nine points (3-4 FG, 1-2 3FG) in just 14 minutes off the bench, plus four rebounds, two assists and no turnovers. Junior center Hannah Wandersee accounted for six points and seven rebounds, while junior guard Kian McNair had five points, six assists and seven steals – the most swipes for a Seawolf since Nov. 11, 2016.
With the victory, UAA advances to its 13th title game in 38 editions of the storied tournament, which is coming to a close this year. The Seawolves are 6-6 in Shootout championship games, winning in 1990, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.
The win improved UAA to 37-56 all-time in the Shootout as well, while the Hawks became the 34th different D-I program to fall to the Seawolves.
Maryland Eastern Shore will play Binghamton on Thursday at noon to decide third place.
Game 1: Tulsa 60, Binghamton 55
Shug Dickson scored 17 points and Kendrian Elliott nearly posted a double-double to lead the Golden Hurricane (3-2) to a narrow victory over the Bearcats (3-2) in the opening game of the women’ GCI Great Alaska Shootout on Tuesday.
Binghamton led for much of the back-and-forth affair and held a 55-52 advantage when Karlee Krchnavi scored on a feed from Jasmine Sina with 5 minutes left. But the Bearcats would go cold as Tulsa outscored the New Yorkers 8-0 the rest of the way, including four straight points by Dickson to grab the lead.
Binghamton was led by 17 points, five assists and three steals from guard Imani Watkins, while guard Kai Moon and Sina chipped in 11 points apiece.
Tulsa moves on to the title game on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. AST against the winner of the Alaska Anchorage/Maryland Eastern Shore game, while Binghamton will play for third place Thursday at noon.