ANCHORAGE – Senior center Hannah Wandersee powered a huge first-half run and finished with 18 points Saturday to help 10th-ranked Alaska Anchorage to a 78-37 women’s basketball blowout of Seattle Pacific at the Alaska Airlines Center.
The Seawolves (17-1, 9-1 Great Northwest Athletic Conference) also got 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting, four assists and four steals from point guard Yazmeen Goo as Ryan McCarthy took sole possession the program’s all-time coaching victories list, now with a 177-32 record in seven and a half seasons.
Combined with Northwest Nazarene’s first loss of the season earlier Saturday, the victory also pulled UAA into a tie with the Nighthawks atop the GNAC standings at the midpoint of the league campaign. UAA and NNU shared last year’s regular-season title.
The Falcons (6-11, 5-5 GNAC) were led by 10 points from senior guard Riley Evans and six rebounds from reserve Madi Hingston, but the visitors were forced into 24 turnovers and shot just 22.7 percent (10 of 44) from the floor.
“I thought defensively we were just really locked in, and in turn that led to a lot of transition opportunities for us, and we were hitting shots tonight,” said McCarthy, whose team didn’t allow a field goal for nearly a 20-minute stretch from the first through third quarters.
SPU raced to a 10-6 lead after three minutes before the Seawolves took over. Junior guard Safiyyah Yasin hit a three-pointer for an 11-10 edge, and Goo earned a three-point play to spark a 20-0 run over the next seven and half minutes.
The Seawolves’ 50-18 halftime lead was their largest in 66 all-time meetings against the Falcons and came one point shy of tying the program record for largest against a conference opponent.
UAA pushed its lead as high as 78-32 with 2:24 left in the game, finishing with season-best 50.8 percent shooting accuracy. Wandersee shot 8 of 12 from the field, sophomore forward Sala Langi had 12 points and four assists, and senior guard Tara Thompson collected 11 points and a team-high six rebounds.
“From the (assistant) coaches that I’ve had to the ladies that have played for me, those are their wins,” added McCarthy, whose 191-45 (.809) overall coaching record (including one season at Northwest Nazarene) is the best winning percentage among current NCAA Div. II women’s coaches. “I’ve just been really fortunate to be here for as long as I’ve been able to. I know that coaching is a crazy business and longevity is rare. I’m really happy that it could be this group to get this win tonight because right now they are executing the kind of basketball that we strive to play.”
The Seawolves’ margin of victory was their second-most against the Falcons and a season best, topping the 92-52 win in the season opener against Holy Names in San Francisco.
UAA begins a four-game road swing next week with a Thursday (6 p.m. AST) contest at Western Washington (10-8, 5-5). Live stats and video for that game will be available at gnac.tv.