It’s conference time for the University of Alaska Fairbanks basketball teams.
The Nanooks women’s and men’s teams begin Great Northwest Athletic Conference play today and Saturday on the Alaska Airlines Court in the UAF Patty Center.
The Nanooks tip off today against the Western Oregon Wolves at 5:15 p.m. for the women’s game and 7:30 p.m. for the men’s contest.
The Concordia Cavaliers visit the Nanooks on Saturday, with the women’s game at 1 p.m., and the men’s matchup at 3:15 p.m.
The Nanooks are 5-4 overall after suffering an 84-76 loss to the Lake Erie Storm, of Painesville, Ohio, on Saturday in the championship game of the Mt. McKinley Bank North Star Invitational in the Patty Center.
The Nanooks began the tournament Thursday with an 87-73 win over the Chadron State Eagles, of Chadron, Nebraska, and followed Friday with a 63-33 romp of the Converse Valkyries, of Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Three Nanooks guards are ranked among the GNAC’s top-10 scorers.
Junior Jocelyn Gandara is second with an average of 16.7 points per game. Freshman Sam Tolliver is fourth with a 15.2 average and senior Kylie Wallace is eighth after averaging 13.8 points in UAF’s first nine games of the season.
Wallace also is the GNAC’s third-leading rebounder with an 8.7 average.
The 2-4 Wolves, of Monmouth, Oregon, are led by senior forward/center Shariah Green, who also ranks 22nd in the GNAC with an average of 10.5 points per game.
Western Oregon is looking to break a three-game losing streak.
Junior guard Olivia Vezaldenos ranks 10th among GNAC scorers, averagining 13.5 points for the 1-7 Cavaliers, of Portland, Oregon.
Concordia also comes north with a three-game losing streak.
The 1-7 Nanooks are coming off losses to the Northern Michigan Wildcats and the Michigan Tech Huskies in the Seawolf Thanksgiving Classic on Friday and Saturday in the Alaska Airlines Center at the University of Alaska Anchorage.
The Nanooks were defeated 95-45 by the Wildcats, of Marquette, Michigan, on Friday and lost 65-57 Saturday to the Huskies, of Houghton, Michigan.
UAF junior guard Shadeed Shabazz averages 18.1 points to rank seventh in the GNAC. Freshman teammate and forward/center Mawich Kachjaani is the fifth-leading rebounder in the 11-team NCAA Division II conference with an average of 8.1 per contest.
The Nanooks encounter a Wolves squad which is 5-0 under first-year head coach Wes Pifer, who was an associate head coach for Northern Arizona, of the Division I Big Sky Conference, from 2013-19.
Western Oregon senior guard Dalven Brushier averages 18.2 points per game, tying him for fifth in the GNAC with Tyler Green, of Montana State Billings.
Concordia, also 1-7, is led by junior guard/forward Hunter Sweet, whose 15.0 points per game rank 12th in the conference. Sweet also averages 6.0 rebounds, which has him in a four-way tie for 13th in the GNAC.
Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter:@newsminersports.