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UAA women's basketball wants to keep toppling giants in the GNAC championship tournament

Mar. 6—The goal of many basketball programs in the country around this time of year is to peak and hit their stride heading into March when playoffs take place.

That is exactly what the University of Alaska Anchorage women's basketball team has been doing over the last half of the season. The Seawolves, who have won 13 of their last 16 games in 2024 and the last four to close out the regular season, are heading into this week's Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship tournament on a heater.

"We're capable of beating anybody," UAA head coach Ryan McCarthy said Saturday. "March is a special time. We're that team that is playing our best basketball at this point in time."

More impressive than the wins themselves are the opponents the Seawolves have faced and bested along the way. UAA notched a trio of victories over a pair of nationally ranked foes, including a sweep of conference power Western Washington and an overtime win over GNAC top-seeded Montana State Billings in the regular season finale this past Saturday.

"This is a team that gets up for giants," senior guard Vishe' Rabb said. "That's just how it works. We're a team that becomes really, really locked in when we know we need to be."

[UAA women's basketball beats nationally ranked Montana State Billings in overtime]

Rabb is the lone senior on this year's team — mostly composed of transfers and underclassmen — so growing pains were to be expected during the team's 6-7 start to the season, which included nearly a month without a win at one point.

McCarthy recalls going on the road to play conference foe St. Martin's just a couple of weeks ago and realizing that he had three players who had never been in that gym before.

"It's learning about the extreme travel that we have up here in Alaska when we go down to the Lower 48," he said. "The kind of pressure to play in front of a lot of fans who really care and are invested in our program, but also about the opportunity and how special it is to represent the state and what that means."

He believes that the complete buy-in from the team in the second half of the season has been the key to becoming more consistent.

"We're really talented and when this group locks in, they can do some special things," McCarthy said. "Our biggest thing has been consistency this year, and that's part of the building process."

As well as they're playing heading into the postseason, the Seawolves are emphasizing humility, in addition to consistency, as they strive to keep improving because they believe they've yet to play their best game of the season.

"I think we can be really dangerous because this gives us some momentum going in for sure," junior forward/center Tori Hollingshead said. "We're going to use this momentum and see how far we go. I have full-on faith that we're going to win it."

UAA is the No. 3 seed in the GNAC tournament and will begin their pursuit of a championship on Thursday against No. 6-seeded Seattle Pacific, at 11 a.m. down in Ellensburg, Washington. The two teams split their regular-season series with the Falcons narrowly winning the first matchup 62-59 and the Seawolves winning the second 51-39.