Women’s basketball back home for North Star Invitational

The Alaska women’s basketball team returns home this week as it hosts its annual Thanksgiving tournament, the 2012 Mt. McKinley Bank North Star Invitational, Thursday through Saturday at the Patty Center.

Alaska welcomes in the Anderson Trojans (2-2), the Upper Iowa Peacocks (2-1) and the Winona State Warriors (2-1) for the three-day, six-game round robin event.

Thursday’s session features the Warriors and Trojans followed by the Nanooks and Peacocks. On Friday, the Peacocks and Warriors hit the court while the Nanooks battle the Trojans. The tournament wraps up Saturday with the Trojans and Peacocks while the Nanooks take on the Warriors in the final game. All games are slated for 5:15 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. tipoffs.

Alaska is coming off a pair of road losses in the Bay area. Last Friday, the Nanooks dropped a 91-71 decision to Academy of Art, followed by an 84-48 setback the following afternoon at Cal State East Bay.

Senior Teanna Boxley (Mesa, Ariz./Business Management) led the team with 12.5 points per game to go with 3.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists. Junior April Fultz (Rialto, Calif./Political Science) scored 11.5 points as well as 2.0 steals per outing, while senior Taylor Altenburg (Elko, Nev./Criminal Justice) had 9.5 points and 7.5 rebounds.

Game #4: Upper Iowa vs. Alaska – Thursday, Nov. 22 at 7:30 p.m.
The Peacocks enter this week with a 2-1 record overall after splitting at home last week. UIU fell to Wisconsin-Parkside 60-53 before coming back to down Grandview 65-57.

Whitney Kieffer is having a strong season as she is leading the squad with 26.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 4.7 steals per game. Lindsay Carroll is scoring 10.7 points while Jennifer Herrick and Carly Pagel are combining to score 17.0 points per outing.

Carol Russell is in her third season at the helm of the program. She took over in 2010 as the 12th coach in the 35-year history of Peacock basketball.

Game #5: Anderson vs. Alaska – Friday, Nov. 23 at 7:30 p.m.
The Trojans are coming off a 1-1 split at the Wingate by Wyndham Lady Pirate Classic and are 2-2 on the season. Anderson downed Flagler by 13 before dropping a game by nine the next night at Armstrong.

Amanda Parris and Alissa Diaz are both tied for the team’s scoring lead with 13.8 points per game. Breonda Shannon is also tallying double figures with 11.5 per outing. She is also the leading rebounder with 13.0 boards per game.

Jim Brunelli is in his fifth season as head coach and last took the program to the NCAA Tournament in 2009 when it captured the South Atlantic Conference championship.

Game #6: Winona State vs. Alaska – Saturday, Nov. 24 at 7:30 p.m.
The Warriors are coming off a pair of home victories and have a 2-1 overall record. WSU first beat Wisconsin-Stout 100-47 and followed that up with an 87-54 win over Grand View.

Four players score in double figures, led by Becca Friestleben, who is scoring a team-best 22.7 points to go with 6.0 rebounds. Katie Wolff is averaging 17.0 points and 6.0 assists and Kelsey Andrist has 15.7 points and 4.7 dimes while Abby Busch is tallying 10.7 points per game. Michelle Tobin is the leading rebounder with 10.3 boards per game to go with her 8.0 points per outing.

Scott Ballard, who has been at the helm for nine years and over two decades in Division II, just celebrated his 400th career victory as a head coach. During his tenure at WSU, he has compiled 131 wins heading into the North Star Invitational.