Coming off their win at the GCI Great Alaska Shootout, Seawolf basketball tied their shoes to face Great Northwest Athletic Conference opponents Central Washington University and Northwest Nazarene University last week.
On Nov. 30, the Seawolves registered a win during their first game of the season against another GNAC competitor. In front of a home crowd of 870 fans, the women cruised to a 70-58 victory to improve to 7-0 overall.
“For tonight, I thought our ladies competed very hard,” head coach Ryan McCarthy said during a press conference. “It’s always better to learn from a win than a loss.”
The Seawolves took an early lead in the first quarter, 20-12. But the Wildcats caught up during the second quarter, before UAA’s women responded with a run during the third period, 60-39. During their fourth quarter, the Wildcats battled for control, scoring 19 points, but UAA’s Hannah Wandersee led the Seawolves to secured the win.
Junior center Wandersee recorded a game-high 17 points, 16 field goals and one free throw, during her 25 minutes on the court. Junior guard, Tara Thompson dished in another 12 points, of which 9 were earned through 3-point shots, while Shelby Cloninger earned 9 points to contribute to the Seawolves’ success.
Central Washington and UAA finished with 39 rebounds each, but the Green and Gold led the offense while the Wildcats took control over the defense. Overall, UAA’s field goal percentage beat CWU’s 38 percent versus 35.1 percent.
“We are pleased with the result of tonight. End result anyways, but I’m not really happy with our discipline on both ends of the floor and particularly the offense end,” McCarthy said. “We caused some set plays and I think we ran two correctly. The positive thing is that whoever watches this game, probably won’t know what we are running or trying to run.”
On Dec. 2, the Seawolves continued their winning streak by beating Northwest Nazarene University, 78-68, resulting in an overall 8-0 record and 2-0 in GNAC.
“NNU is a very good team. They got a lot of experience on that squat and we came into this game with a great deal of respect for them,” McCarthy said. “They came in ready to compete tonight. We didn’t play our best basketball game. We have a lot of things to work on, but that is to be expected when you play a great opponent like that. They take you out of the stuff that you want to do.”
UAA used some great career-high efforts to secure the win over the Crusaders in front of crowd of 981 Seawolf fans. Junior Wandersee of Kodiak recorded another big night, scoring a career-high 27 points in her 33 minutes on the court. Forward Shelby Cloninger scored another 18 points and recorded eight rebounds, while sophomore guard Yazmeen Goo dished in another career-high 13 points and six assists to help the Seawolves to victory.
“Hannah [Wandersee] had a big game. She will be an All-American this year. She is playing at a very high level,” McCarthy said. “Yazmeen [Goo], offensively, she was very aggressive. She made some uncharacteristic turnovers there, but she is just such a good player. She and Sydni [Stallwort] just wear other point guards down and we are very fortunate in that position.”
The Seawolves out-shot the Crusaders 43.3 percent versus 38.6 percent from the field, but the Crusaders led from the 3-throw line 28.0 percent versus 22.2 percent. After a close first quarter, UAA pulled away in the second quarter to remain the lead until the end of the game.
“It has been really important all year long to defend our home court and to be able to do that during the Shootout and coming right off the Shootout, which has a ton of emotions, against two very good GNAC teams makes it a very big win,” McCarthy said.
The women’s basketball team heads out of state for a long travel streak to face four more conference opponents. They will return to the Alaska Airlines Center on Thursday, Jan. 11 to play GNAC opponent Western Oregon University, followed by a game against Concordia University on Saturday, Jan. 13.