In sports, there is no shortage of average teams — teams that win some and lose some at about the same frequency. Very few are excellent.
The UAA women’s basketball team is one of the few.
Last Tuesday, the Seawolves rose to the top of the NCAA Division II Top 25 coaches’ poll. The Seawolves received 15 first place votes and moved up two spots from No. 3 in the weekly poll released by Women’s Basketball Coaches Association and USA Today Sports.
In other words, the Seawolves are the greatest women’s team in American collegiate ball.
The Seawolves have a 24-1 overall record. Their lone loss of the year came on New Year’s Day against Northwest Nazarene. Only four other schools listed in the Top 25 poll have just one loss on the season like the Seawolves. Seattle Pacific University is only other GNAC team featured in the poll.
How have the Seawolves been able to rack up so many wins and outscore their opponents on average by 23 points every game?
One answer lies with the Seawolves’ deep rotation. On this team, the leading scorer isn’t always a starter. In fact, five Seawolves average 10 points or more per game this season.
Junior Jenna Buchanan is one such player. She averages 11.1 points per game and shoots 41 percent from three-point range. According to Buchanan, she and her teammates push each other in practice to sharpen each other.
“Everything is a competition. Nobody likes to lose,” said Buchanan.
Head coach Ryan McCarthy concurs with his shooting guard.
“We have some ladies who are committed to getting better every day,” he said.
McCarthy thinks if his team can fine-tune some of the little things, including turnovers and fouls, they will continue to be hard to beat.
Over the weekend the team traveled to the Pacific Northwest to play their first games as the No. 1-ranked team. The Seawolves beat Simon Fraser University last Thursday night in a closely contested game, 63-59.
Two nights later the Seawolves pulled out another tough road win. UAA beat Western Washington University by only three points, 81-78, with some clutch baskets from Buchanan in the waning minutes of the game. With the victory, the Seawolves secured the regular-season GNAC title, even with one weekend of regular-season games left at home.
The Seawolves will return to the Alaska Airlines Center to finish off the regular season as No. 15 Seattle Pacific comes Thursday for a 5:15 p.m. tilt. Montana State Billings will face the Seawolves Saturday at 1 p.m.