UAA conquers Western Wash.
BELLINGHAM, Wash. – Kaylie Robison delivered a double-double and Alysa Horn had 13 points Saturday to lift 16th-ranked Alaska Anchorage to a dramatic 68-67 victory against 11th-ranked Western Washington in the title game of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Championship at Carver Gymnasium.
The win avenged two regular-season defeats to the Vikings and gives the Seawolves (26-6) the GNAC’s automatic berth to the NCAA Division II West Regional Championships, set for Mar. 11-14.
The Vikings (26-3), ranked No. 2 in the region and the top seed in the GNAC tourney, were led by a game-high 23 points from league player-of-the-year Amanda Dunbar, but saw their 29-game home winning streak come to an end in a classic contest.
Robison, a junior forward, came off the bench for a career-high 12 points, including the eventual game-winning layup with 27 seconds remaining. She also grabbed 11 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the season.
The game featured nine ties and 15 lead changes as neither team led by more than nine points all night. Second-seeded and regionally 6th-ranked UAA forged a 26-15 lead in the first half before WWU responded with a 13-0 run. The Seawolves punched right back and gained a 32-31 halftime advantage on two free throws from tournament MVP Kaitlin McBride .
After the Vikings took a 38-36 lead with 17 minutes remaining, junior forward Tijera Mathews sank consecutive 3-pointers from the same spot on the wing, directly in front of the UAA bench, to spark an 8-0 Seawolf surge.
Viking forward Gabby Wade tied it 52-52 at the 8:52 mark on a 3-pointer, and the lead would switch back and forth from there. Hanna Johansson put the Seawolves ahead 64-60 on a free throw with 3:13 on the clock before the Vikings answered with five consecutive points, taking their final lead on a Dunbar layup with 2:34 left.
With 1:10 remaining, Johansson (10 points, 8 rebounds) – UAA’s first-team all-league center – sank a pair of free throws to put UAA up 66-65, and Western’s Kristin Schramm missed a layup on the other end. The Seawolves worked the ball inside to Mathews, whose layup bounced off the rim, however Robison was there to corral the board and sink the eventual game-winner.
The Vikings got off three 3-point attempts by their all-conference guard combo of Dunbar (two tries) and Megan Pinske, but all three rolled off. Forward Britt Harris grabbed the final rebound with 1 second left and scored on a layup as the clock expired, leaving the home team one point shy and setting off a Seawolf celebration.
McBride finished with nine points on 5-of-6 free-throw shooting and dished a game-high seven assists. The senior from nearby Bothell, Wash., was named the Most Valuable Player of the inaugural GNAC Championships, having helped UAA past Northwest Nazarene in the first round and leading a comeback from a 19-point second-half deficit against Seattle Pacific in the semifinals. The second-team all-league pick played her freshman season for the Vikings before transferring to Yakima Valley Community College and then to UAA.
The Seawolves shot a season-best 50 percent (8 of 16) from 3-point range and tied the school record with just six team turnovers as they stretched their winning streak to five games. UAA has won 11 of 12 since suffering its only home loss of the season against Western on Jan. 22. The Vikings were responsible for the only defeat in the current stretch as well, beating UAA 67-57 at Carver on Feb. 17.