UAA women's coach faces familiar foe Thursday

Jeremy Peters

After snapping a three-game losing streak with a rare road win over Seattle Pacific last weekend, the UAA women's basketball team hopes to continue its winning ways at home Thursday, when it faces an opponent extremely familiar to first-year coach Ryan McCarthy.

Northwest Nazarene, where McCarthy coached for five seasons prior to coming to UAA, will visit Anchorage for the first of UAA's two Great Northwest Athletic Conference home games this week.

The UAA women will host Central Washington on Saturday, the same day the UAA men will travel to Fairbanks to play their only game of the week against a UAF program that is riding a seven-game winning streak.

In a coaching career with Nazarene that began in 2007, McCarthy served as assistant coach, interim head coach and associate head coach. He helped the Crusaders reach the postseason twice.

"It'll be interesting," McCarthy said. "A lot of those players, I've coached them throughout their career, and now I'm sitting on the other bench."

The Seawolves (8-5, 2-3 GNAC) will be without top scorer Sasha King, who continues to battle an ankle injury. The senior point guard was a huge factor in the win over Seattle Pacific, making five 3-pointers on her way to 23 points. She is averaging 15.7 points per game this season, and leads the Seawolves in assists and steals.

"She'll be out this week and next," McCarthy said. "It's a significant blow."

Sophomore Alli Madison will assume most of the point guard duties, something McCarthy said she has done occasionally in recent weeks while King battled a tender ankle.

UAA and Nazarene (11-2, 3-2) both prefer a fast-tempo game with a focus on defense and rebounding, but McCarthy said the two teams implement their strategies in different ways due to different personnel. The smaller Seawolves will likely spread things out a little more than Nazarene.

"They've got bigger players at just about every position," McCarthy said. "If we can do a good job on the defensive end and control the rebounds, I like our chances."

McCarthy, a four-year starter on the men's team at Nazarene from 2002-06, did all his coaching for the Crusaders with 12th-year coach Kelli Lindley. McCarthy filled in as head coach for the 2010-11 season, when Lindley took a leave of absence.

"I enjoyed my time at NNU. She was the coach that gave me my chance," McCarthy said. "Now I'm here, and this is the program I'm 100 percent invested in."

Reach Jeremy Peters at or 257-4335.