BELLINGHAM, Wash. – League player-of-the-year Hannah Wandersee scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds and three steals Friday to power top-seeded Alaska Anchorage to a 70-52 victory over fourth-seeded Central Washington in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Women’s Basketball Championships semifinals at Carver Gymnasium.
The nationally 5th-ranked Seawolves (28-1) also got 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting, six rebounds and four assists from honorable mention All-GNAC point guard Yazmeen Goo as they advanced to Saturday’s 4:20 p.m. AST final against the winner of second-seeded Northwest Nazarene and sixth-seeded Western Washington.
Making their second semifinal appearance in three years, the Wildcats (18-11) were led by 14 points and 11 rebounds from forward Kassidy Malcolm as their season came to a close.
“I thought we had a bit of a rough start,” said UAA head coach Ryan McCarthy, whose program will go for its sixth title in the nine-year history of the tournament. “I thought Central played really hard at the beginning and gave us some trouble on the offensive boards. It really held us accountable to make sure we did the little things right, and in the second quarter we had one of our best quarters of the season.”
Nursing a 13-12 lead after nine minutes, the Seawolves scored on four straight possessions to spark a 13-0 run that would make it a double-digit difference for the rest of the contest.
Wandersee was nearly unstoppable in the first half, making 6 of 9 shots, including a rebound putback off a missed free throw at the buzzer to make it 35-16.
UAA’s four points allowed in the second quarter matched its fewest in any quarter against a fellow NCAA Div. II opponent, and the Seawolves finished with hefty advantages in shooting (.444 to .321) and rebounding (45-30).
“I was definitely inspired by getting that award the other day,” said Wandersee, who surpassed 1,300 career points in the win. “I wanted to come out and perform well, but also to help set the tone for our younger players who haven’t been here before. This means a lot to get back into the finals after not getting there last year.”
Wandersee added a pair of blocks, finishing 10 of 18 from the floor, including a WNBA-range three-pointer to beat the shot clock midway through the third quarter.
Junior guard Safiyyah Yasin added 10 points off the bench, while starting forward Tennae Voliva had six points, six rebounds and two steals.
Saturday’s GNAC Championships title game will be streamed live on ESPN3/Watch ESPN.
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