UAF women start GNAC schedule with top teams

FAIRBANKS-The Nanook women's basketball team has had some tangible early season success this season. They are 6-2, beating Division two opponents and are coming off a runner up finish at the North Star Invitational. This week they'll see how they measure up in the GNAC as they take on the top teams in the conference.

On Thursday they host Seattle Pacific. The 6-0 Falcons are ranked sixth in the country. They are holding opponents to 55 points per game and Katie Benson is averaging 21 points and 11 rebounds.

Saturday Montana State Billings comes to the Patty. They've won five straight games and were the preseason pick to win the conference. The Yellowjackets have a combo in Kayleen Goggins 14 points per game and Bobby Knudsen's 12 points, six dimes and four boards per game.

The Nanooks having gone up against Wayne State last week and played a great first half against the now number 22 team in country. UAF women's basketball coach Cody Bench believes here team is optimistic about playing on that high level again for 40 minutes against these great teams.

"We can prepare as best we can but we got to take care of ourselves first and part of that is putting together two halves. You know making sure we're hitting our free throws, executing our sets appropiately and that we're getting our defensive rotations down," Bench said. "We're working on a lot on what we need to get better at so that when you do face that adversity, those challenges from nationally ranked teams we'll be ready.

Coach Bench is actually thankful that her team is seeing this level of competition to start their GNAC slate.

"What a better way to start? At least we're facing them now after we just played some games. We haven't been slouching off, you know having time off.  I think the team is ready to play. I think they're anxious to compete against nationally ranked team and to prove that we're going to hang with them and give them a run for their money."