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Central looks to give Alaska the big chill

Scott Herman, Staff Reporter - February 13, 2013

Alaskan hoops will be on display at Nicholson Pavilion this week, as the Central Washington women play host to the University of Alaska-Anchorage on Thursday and the University of Alaska-Fairbanks on Saturday.

The Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves come to town with a 6-7 record in conference play and a 12-9 record overall. Alaska-Fairbanks will take the court on Saturday looking for their first win in the GNAC; they currently sit at 0-13 in conference, and 2-19 overall.

The Seawolves are led by unanimous preseason All-GNAC selection senior point guard Sasha King, who averages 15.8 points per game and just under six assists. Anchorage is coming off two impressive comeback wins against Seattle Pacific University and Montana State Billings, both of which were ahead of Anchorage in the standings at the time. The Seawolves also feature the reigning GNAC Red Lion Player of the Week in junior guard Kylie Burns, who averaged 16.5 points per game and 9.5 rebounds.

Much is at stake for the Wildcats on Thursday as Alaska-Anchorage holds the last playoff berth for the conference tournament with just six games remaining on Central’s conference schedule. Central won the last matchup on Jan. 19 in Anchorage 74-64 at the time ending an 11-game losing streak. However, the Seawolves have laid claim to the Wildcats’ home turf, emerging from Nicholson Pavillion with a win every year since 2007.

On Saturday, Central will play host to the bottom feeder in the conference, as the Wildcats will tipoff against the University Alaska-Fairbanks in a 7 p.m. matchup. The Nanooks have yet to find their first win, and hope their search will end in Ellensburg.

Fairbanks will be led into Nicholson Pavilion by senior guard Taylor Altenburg, who leads a balanced scoring attack with 10 points per game and six rebounds. The Nanooks’ lackluster season has been compounded by suffering 22 straight GNAC losses, dating back to last season when they defeated Western Oregon 69-68 on Jan. 21.

Central’s frontline will provide a formidable challenge for the Alaskan squads, with freshman forward Jasmine Parker and her league leading 2.6 blocks per game roaming the paint. Junior guard Jessica VanDyke leads the Wildcats attack with 13 points per game and 4.8 boards.

The Wildcats can expect both squads to play aggressively enough to make their long trips worthwhile. It is crucial for Central’s playoff hopes that they defend the home court before heading on a brutal road trip to Simon Fraser in British Columbia and to rival Western Washington in Bellingham next week.

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