With an outstanding and record breaking season, the Seawolves women’s basketball finished off the season unexpectedly in the NCAA West Region Championships that they had the privilege of hosting at the Alaska Airlines Center.
The Seawolves not only clinched the regular season and Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship title but also remained at No. 2 in the national division 2 rankings for the entire season and held the No. 1 seed in the west region up until their final championship game against Simon Fraser on March 11.
In the West Region Championships, the Seawolves first defeated No. 7 Hawaii Pacific at 63-56. However, head coach Ryan McCarthy knew the Seawolves could have played a lot better.
“I think we played with a lot more composure, but [that night] definitely wasn’t our best shooting night,” McCarthy said.
Large contributions were made by senior forward Autummn Williams and sophomore guard Tara Thompson, who had 23 and 15 points, respectively. In addition, senior guard Kiki Robertson made 7 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists.
UAA’s second game of the tournament, against No. 4 Simon Fraser, gave other Seawolves a chance to shine. Junior forward Shelby Cloninger came through with 14 points and seven rebounds, while sophomore forward Hannah Wandersee managed a career-high five blocks, but neither effort was enough. The Seawolves’ season was ended with a final score of 80-70 against SFU.
The team and head coach McCarthy knew this was a possibility from the very beginning.
“One game and you’re done, there is no series like the big leagues. One bad game or one slip up and [you could have] it slip through your fingers,” McCarthy said. “I’m disappointed in certain areas, but I am most proud of how they fought back.”
Overall the team ended with an undefeated conference record at 20-0 and an overall record of 30-2. With the impressive overall season, many individuals were recognized after the devastating early end.
Williams and Robertson were recognized for their outstanding performances throughout the season, which earned each of them NCAA Division II All-Regional honors. The duo proved to everyone to exceed expectations.
“It was always good to keep going and prove everyone wrong,” Robertson said.
Williams earned the honor of being named to first team by averaging 21.3 points per game, making her the sixth highest scorer in all of Division II. In addition, Williams also earned the title of GNAC Newcomer of the Year and GNAC Tournament MVP.
Williams also broke the Seawolves’ single-season scoring record by accumulating 682 points. With the many records and honors that Williams earned, she now advances to the national ballot for NCAA Division II All-American honors.
The second UAA standout, Robertson, earned her title to the NCAA Division II Second Team All-West Region and GNAC Defensive Player of the Year by securing four different UAA and GNAC all-time high records. Robertson managed 700 assists, 382 steals, 128 started games and 116 victories.
Robertson was a valuable player on and off the court, not only pulling in many records and honors but also being an exceptional individual and teammate.
“We looked at last years team and it doesn’t really mean much to us anymore, we were trying to start new traditions and legacies for us and our younger teammates,” Robertson said.
With the commencement of the 2016-2017 basketball season, the UAA women’s team will lose three of their most valuable players, in addition to Williams and Robertson, senior forward Alysha Devine will also no longer be on the team.
Devine has made a substantial impact on the success of the women’s basketball team over the past four years, including being on the GNAC All-Academic team every year, while also previously being named as the honorable mention All-GNAC and MVP of NCAA West Region Championships. Devine also served as the team co-captain for three of her four years.
Although the Seawolves lost their chance to continue onto the Elite Eight, Simon Fraser doesn’t get the opportunity either, after being beaten in the final round. California Baptist University defeated Western Washington for the West Region title and will compete in the Elite Eight on March 21-24.