UAA women’s basketball looks forward as No. 1 in West Region

The Seawolves women’s basketball team has been in season for nearly three months now, with only an absolute maximum of nine weeks left, if they were to make it to the NCAA Elite Eight. As it stands, the team has a pretty high chance of making it that far. The team currently holds the No. 1 seed in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, being the only undefeated team in GNAC, the women boast a 9-0 record and an overall 12 game win streak.

In addition, the women are also the No. 1 seed in the West Regional division II standings, holding on overall 28-2 record. This high seeding is enough to place them at No. 5 in the entire country, up two spots from their previous No. 7.

The team ended the 2015-2016 season not only in the NCAA Elite Eight, but as the runner-up in the national division II championships. With the the impressive standings that the team currently holds, there is a likely chance they will be able to make it again.

Even with a distinctly different team than last year, there’s still a lot of success seen in the players.

“Our team is so different and we lost a lot of great players last year, [but] our standards, expectations and goals are the same and I don’t think that being so new makes it any less possible,” senior forward Alysha Devine said.

As the season progressed, the Seawolves continued their 13 game win streak and undefeated conference standing at the back-to-back games against Seattle Pacific and Saint Martin’s on Thursday, Jan. 19 and Saturday, Jan. 21, respectively.

To start the weekend off with a close call, the Seawolves prevailed over Seattle Pacific with a slim lead of 9 points, ending the game at 71-62. They suffered a rough start, although the began with a 5 point lead, the second quarter proved to be extremely daunting, allowing Seattle Pacific to out score them 23-9.

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With help from senior forward Autummn Williams and senior point guard Kiki Robertson, the Seawolves were able to make a come back in the third quarter. Slowly but surely, the Seawolves’ offense pushed passed SPU to soon carry the lead.

Ahead only a slim couple of points, UAA quickly lost their lead in a toggle between SPU. Williams and Robertson excelled and attempted to redeem the team but only to end up at a 56-52 deficit with less than four minutes remaining.

In a last ditch effort from Williams, sophomore guard Tara Thompson and Devine, the Seawolves finished the closest game off yet with a win at 71-62. In addition to the win, Williams secured a career-high 29 points.

With such a close call, the team knew they had to re-focus.

“We struggled because we lacked focus and we didn’t come out ready to compete like we should have and SPU really did. Thankfully we pulled off a dub but it’s definitely good for us to have some adversity like that in a close game against a good team and pull ourselves out of it,” Devine said.

In order to make a comeback and redeem their reputation, UAA competed against Saint Martin’s on Saturday, Jan. 21 and prospered.

Sitting at complete opposite spectrums of the GNAC rankings, the Seawolves No. 1 had an obvious advantage over Saint Martin’s No. 11. SMU came in having won only a single game in the entire conference season.

Similar to the Thursday night game against Seattle Pacific, the duo of Williams and Robertson lead the team. The Seawolves secured the lead early on in the game that then skyrocketed after they reached 15 points.

With such a successful game, UAA proved to surpass many individual and team records. They tied with their nation-leading steals average of 17. They converted all seven of their free throws. In addition, they excelled over Saint Martin’s with a 52 percent average in comparison to their 34 percent.

In addition to a quick total overall lead, every single one of the active and eligible Seawolves scored in the game. Williams and Robertson brought in the most with a combined 28. Sophomore forward Hannah Wandersee and Thompson also brought an additional 8 each. In addition, junior forward Sierra Afoa scored 7.

It was only expected that the Seawolves would excel over Saint Martin’s, but with the win, UAA furnished the school record win streak of 17 consecutive road wins and 14 GNAC road wins.

After yet another successful weekend, the Seawolves are ready to continue forward. “We just have to stay focused, keep pushing each other and growing as a team every day and every game, and I think that we could reach our ultimate goal,” Devine said.

UAA plays again at home on Tuesday, Jan. 24 at the Alaska Airlines Center against UAF.