NW Nazarene GNAC championship

The Northwest Nazarene women's basketball team piles on top of each other following their 70-64 win over Alaska Anchorage for the first GNAC Tournament title in program history Saturday in Bellingham, Washington.

The Northwest Nazarene women’s basketball team will be the No. 2 seed at the NCAA Division II West Regional Tournament.

The Nighthawks, fresh off of their first-ever GNAC tournament title, head to San Diego to take on Humboldt State at 3:30 p.m. MDT on Friday in the first round.

UC San Diego, which posted a 29-0 record, is the No. 1 seed and will host the tournament.

“You can’t expect to get a No. 1 seed when there’s a team that’s undefeated,” Northwest Nazarene coach Steve Steele said. “After that, the best thing is a No. 2 seed, so that’s awesome.”

It’s the second year in a row Northwest Nazarene (28-2) has made it to the Regional Tournament. Last year the Nighthawks lost to Alaska Anchorage 65-63 in the first round of the tournament.

The Nighthawks beat Alaska Anchorage 70-64 on Saturday in the GNAC tournament championship game. The Seawolves will be the No. 3 team in the tournament, and the GNAC foes will meet up on Saturday in the second round if both win on Friday.

Alaska Anchorage is playing Hawaii Pacific in its first round game.

On the other side of the bracket, UC San Diego faces Dominican (Calif.), while No. 4 seed Azusa Pacific face Cal Poly Pomona.

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The winner of the region advances to the NCAA Quarterfinals on March 26, in Columbus, Ohio.

“It’s going to be really hard,” Steele said about the competitiveness of the region. “Whoever comes out of that region is not going to be afraid of the next round they go into, when they go to Columbus, Ohio. They will have already gone through a gauntlet. Whoever comes out of that region is going to feel really confident. Obviously we hope that’s us, but whoever it is, is going to represent our region awfully well.

Humboldt State enters the tournament as an at-large selection after being upset by Cal State East Bay in the first round of the California Collegiate Athletic Association tournament. The Lumberjacks have a 19-7 record.

“I haven’t had enough time to do homework on them, but we know they’re good,” Steele said Sunday night. “They have an outstanding coach who had them in the tournament last year. They’re not going to be wide-eyed and surprised by what it feels like to be there. I know that they won’t be afraid of us, but that’s all I really know. It looks like they’re a good defensive team, we’ll have to watch some film to understand them better and we’ve got a couple days to prepare.”

NIGHTHAWK MEN DON’T GET INTO THE TOURNAMENT: The Northwest Nazarene men’s basketball team wasn’t ranked in the top 8 of the West Region and saw its season come to an end.

The Nighthawks had been No. 7, but were jumped by Concordia (Calif.) and Western Oregon in the rankings after Northwest Nazarene lost to Seattle Pacific Friday in the GNAC tournament semifinals.

Northwest Nazarene ends its season with a 20-8 record.

John Wustrow is the assistant sports editor of the Idaho Press. He is a Michigan native and a graduate of Indiana University.

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