Nanooks rock the Patty Center

# 32 Kaillee Skjold shooting a 2 point shot aginast Saint Martin's. Kaillee scored a total of 19 points against Saint Martin's leading to a Nanook victory 66-60. Max Mckernan/Sun Star

# 32 Kaillee Skjold shooting a 2 point shot aginast Saint Martin’s. Kaillee scored a total of 19 points against Saint Martin’s leading to a Nanook victory 66-60. Max Mckernan/Sun Star

Aaron Walling / Sun Star

It is always great to come home. Just ask the Nanooks Women’s Basketball Team, who beat two conference rivals en route to push their home record to 7-3 on the season at the Patty Center. Against Saint Martin’s, it was women’s junior Kailee Skjold who came up huge with 19 points and 10 rebounds to beat the Saints 66-60. The other game, had junior Jaylee Mays come up clutch to help the Nanooks win 58-56 in a thrilling matchup against Seattle Pacific for the first time in 14 years.

“These are the games you love to watch on TV, but you really have a hard time coaching when you’re in the moment,” Head Coach Cody Bench said. “I’m so proud of our team’s defensive resolve down the stretch. We had a lead, and SPU came back. But we were able to have a good offensive possession, followed by an amazing defensive possession, and you can’t ask for any better down the stretch. I hope these girls remember this night for a long time.”

This was after the thrilling win over the Falcons from Seattle Pacific. The Nanooks had themselves in the driver seat throughout the first three quarters eventually putting themselves up by eight midway through the fourth quarter. However, that’s when sophomore Courtney Hollander and senior Molly Grager for the Falcons’ came alive to put them up by two with 15.5 seconds remaining. Hollander dropped a double double with 14 points and 12 rebounds found Brianne Lasconia for the layup in the final minute of the fourth quarter. It was crunch time, and big players make big plays.

Insert Jordan Wilson who found Jaylee Mays amongst the tall bodies of the Falcons who dropped into the teeth of the defense to make a layup over Hannah Rodrigues and was fouled on the play. When you need a clutch free throw, now was the time as Mays delivered to put the Nanooks up by one with 5.7 seconds left on the clock. With 2.9 left, Hollander was called for an offensive foul which ended the game. Beating the Falcons was huge for Alaska, for it was the first time they had beaten them since the 2001-2002 season.

Bench was happy to see this result from her team that has had many adversities.

“It’s really emotion for me as a coach to get this win,” Bench said. “When I got here, we would lose to Seattle Pacific by 20 or 30 points. I think tonight is a stepping stone win for our program. This team has went through so much adversity this season, first with losing Stephanie Toumson, and then not  being eligible for postseason. Credit these kids for not giving up. They’ve turned this program into what I always thought it could be.”

This season the Nanooks are not allowed to play in the postseason due to NCAA violations and losing the appeal process. With all of that, it was great for the home fans to see the team go out there and play their hearts out. With these wins, they can build for the future of the program as next season will mark the final one for key contributors to the Nanooks in Jordan Wilson, Jaylee Mays and Kailee Skjold as they push for the Great Northwest Athletic Conference tournament in their final season.

The Nanooks will look to play spoiler for the rest of the season ruining other teams’ dreams to play in the postseason. Each win prepares them for the next season and the seasons to come.

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