March 13, 2009


Courtesy of Alaska Anchorage

SEATTLE – Rebecca Kielpinski had 16 points and 13 rebounds and guard Kiki Taylor keyed a second-half surge Friday as the nationally 2nd-ranked Alaska Anchorage women’s basketball team opened NCAA Tournament play with a 64-54 victory over Northwest Nazarene at Royal Brougham Pavilion.


UAA (28-3), seeded No. 2 in the regional, also got eight points and eight rebounds from freshman Hanna Johansson to overcome the No. 7 seed Crusaders.


NNU (18-10), which led for the majority of the first half, got 13 points from forward Brittney Roggenkamp and 11 rebounds from forward Kristin Hein.


The Seawolves – who evened their all-time NCAA record at 9-9 – took a 2-0 lead, but fell behind and played catch-up for the first 20 minutes.


Trailing 34-27 after a Hein put-back at the 2:21 mark, senior Elisha Harris earned a pair of free throws to spark a Seawolf run, and fell guard Jackie Thiel nailed a three-pointer with 1:19 left to send the game to halftime tied 34-34.


After Roggenkamp started the second half with a mid-range jumper, Taylor tied it with a pair of free throws, and UAA took the lead for good with Ruby Williams found Kielpinski inside for a layup.


A couple minutes later, Taylor stepped into a Crusader passing lane, made her fifth steal of the game, and coasted in for an uncontested layup to make it 43-36.


The Seawolves kept their lead between five an eight points for the next several minutes until finally taking a double-digit advantage, 53-43, on a Dasha Basova rebound basket at the 7:25 mark.


UAA overcame an extremely slow start, missing nine of its first 10 shots and committing 17 turnovers in the first half. But the second half was an entirely different story, as UAA’s pressure defense bothered the Crusaders and led to 27-of-35 free-throw shooting for the favorites. On the final stats, NNU actually committed more turnovers (24-23) than UAA.


Taylor – who had two points, one assist, four turnovers and three fouls in the opening stanza – did most of her damage in the second half, scoring 10 points (8-10 FT), dishing one assist and committing no turnovers.


The Seawolves’ other big edge was on the boards, 47-34, including 23 offensive rebounds. Kielpinski had six of those offensive caroms as UAA’s 3-time Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Year earned her sixth double-double of the season.


It was also the 47th career double-double for the 6-2 center, who became the GNAC’s all-time career scorer in the victory. Kielpinski now has 1,701 career points, passing Central Washington’s Rose Shaw (1998-02) for the league’s top spot.


UAA – the GNAC co-champion – will next meet nationally 10th-ranked and 3rd-seeded UC San Diego – the CCAA champion – in Saturday’s 4 p.m. ADT regional semifinal. The Tritons earned a 66-65 victory over California Collegiate Athletic Association rival Cal State Dominguez Hills in Friday’s first quarterfinal when guard Annette Ilg tossed in a well-defended shot from about 17 feet at the buzzer.