BELLINGHAM, Wash. – Sophomore point guard Yazmeen Goo had career highs of 14 points and seven steals Sunday to help 6th-ranked Alaska Anchorage hold off Western Washington for a 64-54 victory in a battle of Great Northwest Athletic Conference powers at Carver Gymnasium.
The Seawolves (12-1, 5-0 GNAC) also got 12 points, a career-high 12 rebounds and four steals from senior forward Shelby Cloninger, while senior guard Kaitlyn Hurley scored 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting, including 2 of 3 from long range.
The Vikings (6-6, 2-2) – runners-up to UAA in the regular season and GNAC Tournament last year – were led by 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting, three assists and three blocks from freshman reserve Kelsey Rogers, but the hosts were hurt by 20 turnovers and outrebounded 46-32.
“We did an excellent job on the boards tonight and really limited Western’s opportunities for easy baskets,” said UAA head coach Ryan McCarthy, whose team won its 25th consecutive regular-season league contest. “Kian (McNair) and Yazmeen did a great job of pressuring their guards, and our 23 offensive rebounds helped us overcome a poor shooting performance.”
UAA shot just 33.3 percent from the field but connected on 16 of 20 free throws. Goo matched McNair’s team season high in steals, while McNair collected five points, five rebounds, four assists and three of the Seawolves’ 16 steals.
Tied 32-32 late in the second quarter, McNair made a steal and coasted in for a layup, and Goo sank 3 of 4 free throws to grab a 37-33 lead at halftime.
The Seawolves earned their largest advantage at 52-41 after three quarters, but the Vikings rallied within 55-50 on a three-pointer by Dani Iwami with 5 minutes left. Both teams went scoreless for the next two and a half minutes until Hurley drained a stepback three from in front of the Seawolf bench with 2:32 left. WWU cut it to a two-possession game on two more occasions, however McNair fed freshman Tennae Voliva for an open layup and Cloninger sank two free throws to clinch the victory.
Despite shooting just 2 of 14 from the field, Cloninger sank all eight of her free throws to secure the first double-double of her career. The former North Idaho College transfer grabbed five of her boards on the offensive end, as did fellow post player Hannah Wandersee. Wandersee also swatted a pair of shots to move into 10th place on UAA’s career blocks list, now with 60.
UAA will head back to Anchorage before concluding a stretch of six straight road games on Saturday, Jan. 6 at Montana State Billings. That game can be seen live on GNAC.tv or portal.stretchinternet/uaa.
NOTES: UAA has won five in a row and nine of the last 10 meetings against WWU, including a 75-72 double-overtime classic in Bellingham last year … this marked the first meeting between the teams since Carver Gymnasium completed its 2-year renovation this fall … Cloninger’s 12 rebounds were a UAA season high, while Goo’s seven steals matched McNair’s total in the GCI Great Alaska Shootout win over Maryland Eastern Shore … Wandersee moved into a tie for 11th place on UAA’s career victories list with 79, while Tara Thompson (3 points, 3 rebounds, 1 block) rose to 14th place with her 77th win in Green & Gold.