Anchorage — First-year UAA women’s basketball coach Ryan McCarthy probably imagined things going a little better the first time he coached his new team against his old team.
Northwest Nazarene, where McCarthy began his coaching career as an assistant in 2007, got the better of UAA at nearly every turn Thursday night. The Crusaders lit up the Wells Fargo Sports Complex with sharp early shooting and never trailed in a 76-49 Great Northwest Athletic Conference win.
“We were outmanned in this game,” McCarthy said. “NNU was the better team tonight.”
Nazarene (12-2, 4-2 GNAC) has now won seven straight, its only losses coming against GNAC foes Seattle Pacific and Montana State-Billings.
UAA (8-6, 2-4 GNAC), was looking to build momentum coming off a big road win last weekend against Seattle Pacific, but couldn’t keep things rolling.
Contributing to their woes, the Seawolves were without senior guards Sasha King and Jordan Martin. King sat out with an ankle injury and Martin sat due to an academic situation. King was the team’s leading scorer coming into Thursday’s game, averaging 15.7 points per game. She also led the team in assists and steals.
“We had a lot of players playing out of position, where it was hard for us to run our offense against a really good team,” McCarthy said.
With just eight players dressed, UAA struggled to keep up from the beginning.
Nazarene’s Chelsie Luke opened scoring with a 3-pointer, and another 3-pointer by Luke put the Crusaders up 19-9 with 12:55 left in the first half. They led 40-18 by halftime on their way to their first win over UAA in nine games.
“It felt really nice to win, especially here,” Luke said. “Every game, we come out focused, we come out with grittiness and it’s a team effort.”
Luke was an offensive force in the early going, scoring all 18 of her points and hitting 4 of 5 shots from beyond the arc in the fist half. Megan Hingston led the Crusaders with a game-high 25 points.
Hingston, who McCarthy called one of the best players in the conference, wasn’t just a scorer. She also did a nice defensive job guarding UAA’s Alysa Horn most of the night. Horn was averaging 14.5 points coming in to Thursday’s event, but was shut out in the first half.
“I’m the biggest on the team, pretty much the only true post, so automatically, I’m gonna draw a lot of attention,” Horn said. “Sometimes you just gotta battle through it.”
Horn still managed to finish with a double-double. Her 13 points and 12 rebounds were both team highs. Alli Madison chipped in 11 points while filling in for King at point guard.
Madison found some wide-open lanes to the basket in the game’s opening minutes, but her scoring chances diminished as the game progressed. She said she is working hard to take advantage of the opportunity to play the point.
“It’s all mental,” she said. “A point guard needs to see the floor, know what’s going on at all times and needs to see everyone’s defender.”
The Seawolves hit just 26.8 percent of their shots from the field compared to Nazarene’s 48.5 percent, but a bigger problem was 24 turnovers.
“One of the things that we really value, or that we try to emphasize in the program, is taking care of the basketball and I think that’s a season high for us,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy’s connection with Crusaders goes way back. He was a four-year starter for the Nazarene men’s basketball team from 2002-06 and coached with the women’s team for five seasons before joining UAA. He was an interim head coach for the 2010-11 season and an associate head coach last season.
“A lot of those ladies, I sat in their living room and sold them on what a great place NNU is,” McCarthy said. “It was emotional in that sense.”
UAA continues GNAC play Saturday when it will host Central Washington.
Reach Jeremy Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.
NORTHWEST NAZARENE (76) — Hingston 11-18 3-4 25; Luke 6-12 2-2 18; Skokankova 4-5 0-0 9; Adams 3-9 0-0 7; Warwick 3-5 0-0 6; Ferrenburg 1-1 1-2 3; White 1-4 0-2 2; Simmons 1-4 0-0 2; Schierman 1-4 0-0 2; Swanson 1-4 0-0 2; Motu 0-0 0-0 0; Schumann 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 32-66 6-10 76.
UAA (49) — Horn 3-14 6-9 13; A. Madison 4-10 3-4 11; Burns 2-7 4-5 8; Hutchins 3-7 0-0 8; Buchanan 2-8 2-4 6; J. Madison 1-9 1-3 3; Brewster 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 15-56 16-25 49.
Northwest Nazarene 40 36 — 76
UAA 18 31 — 49
3-point goals — Northwest Nazarene 6-14 (Luke 4-6; Skokankova 1-2; Adams 1-4; Simmons 0-1; Schierman 0-1), UAA 3-17 (Hutchins 2-5; Horn 1-2; Buchanan 0-2; J. Madison 0-5; A. Madison 0-3). Fouled out —none. Total fouls — Northwest Nazarene 22, UAA 17. Rebounds — Northwest Nazarene 43 (Hingston 9), UAA 39 (Horn 12). Assists — Northwest Nazarene 23 (Adams 7), UAA 11 (Hutchins 4). Turnovers — Northwest Nazarene 16 (Hingston 4), UAA 24 (Horn 7, A. Madison 7). Steals — Northwest Nazarene 6 (Simmons 6), UAA 5 (A. Madison 2). Blocked shots — Northwest Nazarene 5 (Schierman 2), UAA 1 (Horn). A — 575.