CWU heads to Alaska for roadtrip

Mitchell Johnson, Sports Editor

Alaska is called the “Last Frontier” for many reasons. The distance away from the lower 48 states, extreme cold and rugged landscape make visiting Alaska one of the most difficult places to travel.

Over the weekend the CWU  women’s basketball team will make their yearly trip to Alaska Anchorage and Fairbanks.

When CWU (1-5 GNAC, 6-8 overall) plays Alaska Anchorage on Thursday Jan. 12, the high will be eight degrees, before wind chill.

The weather won’t be the only problem for CWU, as they face the seventh ranked Alaska Anchorage on Thursday.

“It’s always harder play away from home, but we’re ready for it, we prepare for it [and] we do it all the time,” junior Forward Taylor Baird said.

The Wildcats will have to stop the best defense in the country where the Seawolves average 51 points allowed per game.

Scoring has been an issue for CWU where they are second to last in the GNAC averaging 61.8 points per game.

“We’re getting the shots we want, we’re just not knocking them down right now,” Baird said. “Once we are consistently hitting the shots our offenses are opening up for us our scoring will change tremendously.”

Baird, the transfer from Southern Utah has led the offense. She averages nearly a double-double with 13.4 points per game and 8.9 rebounds per game.

“I’m doing the best I can, I’m trying to get the most out of myself as possibly I can, to scrape by and get some wins. I’m happy with it, but there’s definitely more that I could be doing.”

Teams have started zeroing in on post players like Baird though.

“Right now we’re relying a lot on our post players,” head coach Jeff Harada said. “Taylor Baird is our leading scorer and teams know when she gets [the ball] she’s tough to stop, so they send a double-team at her. Forces us to make shots from the perimeter.”

CWU will also have to deal with Alaska Anchorage’s full-court pressing the entire game.

Something the Wildcats have been working on in practice all week.

“It’s like a game on steroids,” junior Guard Jasmin Edwards said.

The Seawolves high pressure offense has led them to 17.2 steals a game, six more than the next closest team.

“They try to get you uncomfortable, they try to get you to speed up to play a little chaotic,” Harada said. “They hope if they don’t get steals per se, they want you to make their own mistakes and turn the ball over. Ultimately if they don’t get a turnover they want you to take a quick shot, move the ball around in their press and think you have an open shot, when you are actually shooting a deep three with 15- seconds still on the shot clock.”

Alaska Anchorage’s seventh ranked offense is led by senior Forward Autummn Williams with an average of 17.9 points per game.   

“She’s tough, she’s really athletic,” Harada said. She “gets to the rim, good pull-up shooter. We’re going to have a focused effort on her.”

Saturday, CWU travels to Alaska Fairbanks (2-4 GNAC, 6-7 overall) where the high will be -18 degrees.

Three players are averaging double-figures for the Nooks in senior forwards Jordan Wilson, Kaillee Skjold and senior guard Jaylee Mays.

“I’m excited to just get out there and play through the adversity of traveling all the way out there and being in the negative degree weather,” Baird said.