AZUSA, Calif. – Junior center Hannah Wandersee had 21 points and nine rebounds and sophomore point guard Yazmeen Goo scored 13 points, including the game-winning layup with 1.7 seconds left, to lift 5th-seeded Alaska Anchorage to a 65-63 victory over 4th-seeded Northwest Nazarene in the NCAA Div. II West Region Women’s Basketball Championships first round Friday at the Felix Event Center.
The nationally 13th-ranked Seawolves (26-4) also got 12 points from junior Kian McNair as they advanced to Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. AST regional semifinal against the winner of the late game between top-seeded Azusa Pacific and 8th-seeded Humboldt State.
The Nighthawks (22-5) – who tied UAA for the Great Northwest Athletic Conference regular-season title – were led by 18 points from guard Avery Albrecht.
“That was a great college basketball game,” said UAA head coach Ryan McCarthy, who led the Seawolves to their third straight NCAA Tournament opening-round victory. “It wasn’t the prettiest, but we seemed to clean up a few more bricks, and that was the difference.”
The Seawolves led most of the night and pushed their advantage to 57-46 early in the fourth quarter. NNU would rally, however, pulling even at 59-59 on a short jumper by Lexi Tubbs with 2:25 remaining.
Goo snaked through the lane for a layup to regain the lead, and UAA still led 61-60 after NNU center Danielle Jardine split two free throws.
The Nighthawks, from Nampa, Idaho, had a chance to claim the lead after a missed three-pointer by UAA freshman Sala Langi, but Tubbs missed a trey and Wandersee grabbed the rebound and was fouled. The first-team All-GNAC selection swished both free throws to make it 63-60, only to foul out on a rebound basket by Avery Albrecht with 17.8 seconds remaining.
Albrecht swished the free throw to tie it, and UAA called timeout to set up the final play. Goo was fouled with 10 seconds remaining, but the honorable mention All-GNAC point guard missed both free throws. Langi was there to grab the offensive rebound, however, and the Seawolves got the ball to Goo as the clock ticked down. The lefty dribbled through the lane and calmly laid an off-balance layin off the glass.
With no timeouts remaining, NNU could only attempt a halfcourt short at the final buzzer that sailed wide.
“We were hungry to play them again after our performance down there (in Idaho) last month,” said Wandersee, who tallied her sixth 20-plus effort of the season. “We played with a lot more intensity and confidence today, and I think that was the difference.”
Wandersee shot 7 of 10 from the floor and 7 of 7 at the foul stripe as the Kodiak product barely missed her third double-double of the season. Meanwhile, Goo shot 4 of 7 and added five rebounds and three assists. The Bay Area native also had just one turnover in 26 minutes.
McNair dished a game-high five assists and swiped a pair of steals, and Langi finished with seven points, six rebounds and three assists, helping UAA win the rebounding battle 47-34.
The Seawolves earned the victory despite shooting 2 of 26 from three-point range, even after junior guard Tara Thompson began the scoring with a trey.
UAA held NNU first-team all-conference senior guard Lexi Tubbs to just six points – 10 below her average – on 1-of-11 shooting, as the Seawolves outshot the Nighthawks .379 to .3000.