Thanksgiving week, the Seawolves stepped on the court for the final GCI Great Alaska Shootout tournament. The women aimed for their seventh title in the 38th edition of the women’s tournament after having won the title in 1990, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.
On Nov. 21, the Shootout took off for its final first round in front of a crowd of 1974 spectators. At 8 p.m., the Seawolves faced University of Maryland Eastern Shore to advance to the final. UAA’s GCI Player of the Game, forward Shelby Cloninger, lead the team to a 10-point victory over the Hawks. Colninger, a 6-foot senior of Kamiah, Idaho, scored a career-high 19 points to earn that honor.
“I really owe this to my team,” Cloninger said in a press conference following the game. “We really focused on reversing the ball, finding the open and my teammates knew that I was hot, so they were just giving me the ball.”
Kaitlyn Hurley, senior guard of Roy, Utah had an impressive game, scoring 16 points. Freshman forward Sala Langi scored nine points during her 14 minutes of playing time to help the Green and Gold to a 69-59 victory.
“Obviously, we are very happy with the end result of this game,” head coach Ryan McCarthy said. “To me this was our best defensive performance and from an effort standpoint and we are very happy to have put ourselves in a position to accomplish one of our goals for the season.”
The Seawolves improved their winning streak to a 6-0 record as they are currently rank second in the NCAA Div. II standings. The University of Binghamton took on University of Tulsa at 5.30 p.m. to determine the Seawolves’ opponent in the championship game with University of Tulsa taking the win with a score of 55-60.
The Championship game between the University of Alaska Anchorage and University of Tulsa took place on Thanksgiving day, November 23 at 2:30 p.m. About 1,828 spectators watched the Seawolves cruise to a 59-53 victory over the Golden Hurricane.
Junior forward Hannah Wandersee, who has already proven herself to be an important player for the Seawolves this season, contributed 14 points and a pair of assists to help UAA to their first GCI Great Alaska Shootout tournament title under the leadership of McCarthy. Wandersee, who played a team high 29 minutes, was also an All-tournament team selection and named the GCI Player of the Game.
Sophomore guard Yazmeen Goo also earned All-tournament selections, while Cloninger scored another 13 points for the Green and Gold, becoming the Shootout’s Most Outstanding Player.
During the close game, the score was tied seven times and the lead changed another eight times. UAA shot 30 percent from the field, 23 percent from behind the arc and 85 percent (12 of 14) from the free throw line, while University of Tulsa shot 41-percent from the field, including just 8 percent from three-point range, and went 8-of-9 from the charity stripe.
In the final minutes of the game, UAA made several three-pointers to secure the title.
“I think sentimentally, especially for anyone who follows basketball or has grown up in Alaska, this tournament is a special time,” McCarthy said. “For me as a kid, Thanksgiving evolved around the shootout. This is where I fell in love with the game of basketball and to be able to coach in this has always been a dream of mine. So, I have always been on cloud nine during this week.”
McCarthy credits his women’s team with earning this title and expressed thankfulness to have been able to coach a special and determined group of ladies to win his first and the final GCI Great Alaska Shootout tournament title.
With this win, the Seawolves record improved to 7-0 and McCarthy’s to 139-26 early in his sixth season.
“It means so much. I almost got emotional out there on the floor,” McCarthy said. “When you pour your heart into something, you get an opportunity to get your heart broken or fall in love again.”
On Thursday, Nov. 30, UAA will start their regular season with their first conference game against Central Washington University at the Alaska Airlines Center at 5:15 p.m.