Sam Tolliver established a personal best Thursday while helping the University of Alaska Fairbanks women’s basketball make history.
The freshman guard from Seattle delivered a game, career and season-high 31 points in an 87-73 victory over the Chadron State College Eagles in a first-round game of the Mt. McKinley Bank North Star Invitational in the UAF Patty Center.
Tolliver was among four guards with double-digit points to help the Nanooks improve to 4-3 overall. Kylie Wallace (senior) and Jocelyn Gandara (junior) each scored 17 points and Sabrina Ungaro (redshirt senior) provided 12.
Wallace also finished with a double-double, as the native of Petersburg collected 17 rebounds.
The win over the Eagles, of Chadron, Nebraska, and the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, matched UAF’s win total for all of last season, which was the first for Kerri Nakamoto as head coach. The Nanooks finished 4-22 in 2018-19.
The 2019-20 version of the Nanooks is still establishing an identity amid the
“I think we have a lot of talented pieces, and we’re just kind of trying to still sort out our roles all the way,” Nakamoto said by phone Thursday, “but I think we’re getting closer.
“Some people are stepping up and filling needs for us.”
Nakamoto cited senior guard Brittany Richards as an example. Richards collected 11 rebounds, the second highest in the game behind Wallace’s total.
“She was a monster on the boards tonight because we were saying that we need more rebounders,” Nakamoto said. “So she made a concerted effort to make an improvement in that area.”
The Nanooks’ offense stepped up, too, as the hosts finished 48.5% shooting from the field on 33 of 68 attempts. UAF also was 5 for 15 (33.3%) from 3-point range and 16 for 29 in free throws for 55.2%.
Also, Wallace, Tolliver and Gandara came into the averaging double-digit scoring and they continued it in the first round of the three-day, four-team and round-robin format tournament.
“On the perimeter, they’re (Tolliver and Gandara) are really versatile,” said Nakamoto, “and they can score from drives, shots and getting to the free-throw line. They also create a lot for other people.
“I think we’re at our best when driving, kicking (passing) and driving again, and getting the defense off balance and moving the basketball.
“When we have four people in double figures, it shows our offense is doing a really good job, spreading the ball out and attacking in different ways.”
The Nanooks play at 3 p.m. today against the Converse College Valkyries, who lost 67-53 to the Lake Erie College Storm.
Chadron State, 1-6, shot 36.2% (25 for 69) from the field Thursday. The Eagles were 31.6% (6 for 19) in treys and 65.4% (17 for 26) at the line.
Eagles sophomore guard Jori Peters deposited a team-high 19 points. Junior guard Taryn Foxen scored 14 and senior guard Melisa Kadic had a team-best seven rebounds.
Chadron State faces Lake Erie at 1 p.m. today.
Lake Erie plays Converse
Senior guard Josie Chaddock’s double-double of 15 points and a game-high 11 rebounds sparked Lake Erie to its first win of the season after seven straight losses.
Junior forward Breanna Bauer and freshman guard Sydney Wyngarden chipped in 14 points each for the Storm. Ashley West had a game-high five assists after coming off the bench for Lake Erie, of Painesville, Ohio and the Great Midwest Athletic Conference.
Converse, 1-6, was led by Dominique Hill’s 15 points and game-high three steals. The Valkyries, of Spartanburg, South Carolina and Conference Carolinas, got 10 points each from Ellen Nardell and Alexis McMillan, who also grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.
Lake Erie went on a 14-7 run in the first quarter after Converse led 2-0 on a pair of free throws by McMillan with 9:34 left in the quarter. The Storm was up 34-20 at halftime.
Hebard guides Ducks
ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands — Ruthy Hebard, a West Valley High School graduate, had 30 points and 18 rebounds and No. 1 Oregon survived a second-half challenge from Oklahoma State in an 89-72 victory Thursday in the Paradise Jam.
Sabrina Ionescu added 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists, Minyon Moore had 14 points and six assists, and Erin Boley finished with 12 points. The Ducks (5-0) led by as many as 29 points in the second half.
Natasha Mack had 26 points and 13 rebounds for Oklahoma State. Vivian Gray added 17 for the Cowgirls (5-1).
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter:@newsminersports.