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UAA Athletics

UAA women catch fire late to grab spot in West Region title game

  • Author: Beth Bragg
    | Sports
  • Updated: March 10
  • Published March 10

Sweet shooting, especially down the stretch, carried the UAA women's basketball team into the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Division II tournament Saturday.

The Seawolves sank 58.3 percent of their shots for the game and hit two big 3-pointers with two minutes remaining to dispatch Humboldt State 81-73 in a semifinal game at the West Region championships in Azusa, California.

The victory puts UAA (27-4) in Monday's 6 p.m. title game against a familiar opponent — Montana State-Billings, which continued its Cinderella playoff run by knocking off UC San Diego 75-73.

UAA is 2-0 this season against the Yellowjackets.

One night after beating Northwest Nazarene 65-63 with a last-second shot, the Seawolves survived a seesaw battle with Humboldt State (19-13). The game was tied eight times and the lead changed hands 12 times.

Rodericka Ware and Tara Thompson each drained 3-pointers to put UAA in the lead for good with about two minutes left. Ware's shot gave UAA a 66-65 lead, Humboldt tied it 66-66 with a free throw, and Thompson's trey made it 69-66.

Humboldt State twice cut UAA's lead to one point after that, but each time the Seawolves answered.

The last time came after a Tyra Turner layup sliced UAA's lead to 74-73 with 65 seconds left. Shelby Cloninger responded with a layup that triggered a 7-0 run by the Seawolves, who made five of six free throws in the waning seconds to seal the win.

Four UAA players scored in double figures, a group led by junior center Hannah Wandersee with 15 points. Yazmeen Goo scored 13 points and was a perfect 7 of 7 from the foul line, and Sala Langi and Sydni Stallworth each scored 10.

UAA shot 46.7 percent from 3-point range (7 of 15), getting long-range shots from five players, and was 18 of 21 from the foul line.

The Seawolves outrebounded Humboldt State 33-23 with a true team effort — no one had more than four rebounds — and used their depth to rack up 36 bench points.

"I thought we had some ladies really step up off the bench tonight," UAA coach Ryan McCarthy said at a post-game press conference.

Cloninger, Stallworth and Ware were among those who came off the bench to give their team a spark.

"It all comes down to we have each others' back, so when the starting five comes out we can't have a letdown," Stallworth said.

It was the second close tournament game for the Seawolves, who Friday defeated Northwest Nazarene on Goo's layup with 1.7 seconds left.

In Saturday's other semifinal, Billings went on an 8-0 run near the end of the game to knock off third-seeded UC San Diego, 75-73.

Rylee Kane scored six of her game-high 31 points during that scoring spree, which turned a 70-67 Billings deficit into a 75-70 Billings lead.

Alisha Breen added 27 points for the Yellowjackets (24-11), who are playing their best basketball of the season.

They were the surprise winners of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference to claim a spot in the eight-team West Region tournament as the No. 7 seed. Billings took down second-seeded Hawaii Pacific 76-65 on Friday to advance to Saturday's game against San Diego.

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