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UAA Athletics

Rare home loss denies UAA women a shot at 4th straight GNAC hoops championship

  • Author: Anchorage Daily News
  • Updated: March 3
  • Published March 3

Payback, the sequel.

Two weeks after the UAA women's basketball team resoundingly avenged an earlier loss to Seattle Pacific, the Falcons retaliated by sending the Seawolves to their first homecourt loss of the season.

Seattle Pacific connected on 53 percent of its shots and put on a third-quarter shooting clinic to take down the Seawolves 74-65 in the semifinals of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference tournament Friday night at the Alaska Airlines Center.

Seattle Pacific advanced to Saturday's 7:30 p.m. championship game against Montana State-Billings, which stunned Northwest Nazarene 76-69 in Friday's first semifinal.

UAA entered Friday's game as the three-time defending tournament champs and the regular-season co-champs along with Northwest Nazarene. Both teams are done for the weekend but both should earn at-large berths in next week's NCAA West Region tournament.

It was the third meeting of the season between UAA and Seattle Pacific. In the first encounter, the Falcons clobbered UAA 66-48 Jan. 20 in Seattle. On Feb. 15 in Anchorage, the Seawolves got payback with a 73-47 romp.

Seattle Pacific got even Friday by making a big third-quarter statement.

Facing a UAA team that was undefeated in 13 home games this season and had a crowd of 1,166 on its side, the Falcons hit 73 percent of their shots to outscore the Seawolves 20-9 and pull away from a 33-33 halftime tie.

Six players provided buckets that quarter for Seattle Pacific, which hit 8 of 11 shots from the field. UAA shot an ugly 18 percent, putting up the same number of shots as the Falcons but hitting just two of them.

"I give SPU the credit for taking the game to us — they were the better team tonight," UAA coach Ryan McCarthy said after the game. "They did the things it took to win, and we didn't. We missed too many free throws and layups, and you just can't do that in championship basketball and expect to be successful."

Seattle Pacific (23-6) got contributions up and down its lineup, putting three players in double figures and getting seven or more points from three others.

Rachel Shim drained a pair of treys and was 8 of 8 from the foul line to lead the Falcons with 18 points. Julia Haining, who hit 6 of 7 from the field, added 13 points, six assists and five rebounds.

The Seawolves (25-4) shot 39 percent from the field, 17 of 27 from the line and were outrebounded 33-27. They were led by Sala Langi's 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting. Kaitlyn Hurley added 12 points and Hannah Wandersee supplied 10 points, four rebounds and three blocks.

The Falcons led by 15 points early in the fourth quarter but UAA chipped away at the lead. A 3-pointer by Hurley cut the gap to 66-59 with 1:40 remaining, but a full minute passed before either team scored again.

After a putback by UAA's Shelby Cloninger made it 66-61 with a 36 seconds left, the Seawolves were forced to foul. The Falcons responded by sinking 8 of 8 free throws to pull off the third upset of the night in the NCAA West Region.

The region's top three teams tumbled, including No. 2 Northwest Nazarene and No. 3 UAA. In the Pac West Conference tournament in Riverside, California, No. 6 Point Loma knocked off top-ranked Azusa Pacific 76-68.

The rankings matter because the top-ranked team typically hosts the eight-team West Region tournament, which begins Thursday.

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