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Less than one week after the University of Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks made history by winning their own Top of the World Classic, the University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves will try to do the same by winning the Great Alaska Shootout.
On Sunday, the Nanooks became the first NCAA Division II men's basketball team to win an eight-team tournament dominated by NCAA Division I teams when UAF beat Weber State 77-65 in the championship game.
This week at Anchorage's Sullivan Arena, the Seawolves host a four-team women's tournament and an eight-team men's tourney, with UAA being the only NCAA Division II team in either field.
The women's Great Alaska Shootout opens tonight when UAA (1-1) hosts Nevada (0-1) at 6 p.m., followed by Eastern Kentucky (2-0) vs. Indiana (2-0) at 8 p.m. Tonight's losing teams will play at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday for third place, with the championship game set for 5 p.m. on Wednesday.
The Seawolf women won the now-defunct Northern Lights Invitational in 1990, which was an eight-team tournament with UAA being the only NCAA Division II team in the field. UAA has yet to win a title since the women's version of the Shootout started in 1999.
The UAA women feature four Alaska players on the roster, including junior shooting guard Tanya Nizich of Juneau, who is UAA's most-experienced returner. Nizich is averaging 9.5 points, 2.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists a game this season. Nevada also has an Alaska player on the roster, former East Anchorage High School star Laura Ingham, a 5-foot-4 point guard who is a former Alaska High School Player of the Year.
The men's Shootout tips off on Wednesday, as host UAA (1-1) plays Oklahoma State (1-0) at 7:30 p.m. in a game broadcast nationally on ESPN2. Wednesday's other opening-round game features the College of Charleston (2-0) vs. Wyoming (1-0) at 9:45 p.m.
Thursday's opening-round games feature Loyola Marymount (2-0) vs. Villanova (1-1) at 5:30 p.m. followed by Montana (0-1 before tonight's game against the University of Denver) against No. 9 Michigan State (1-0) at 8 p.m. in a game broadcast on ESPN.
Friday's consolation bracket games are at noon and 2 p.m., with the semifinal games at 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. (the 8 p.m. game will be shown on ESPN2). On Saturday, the seventh-eighth place game is at noon, the fourth-sixth place game is at 2 p.m., the third-fifth place game is at 5:30 p.m. and the championship game is at 8 p.m. (title game broadcast on ESPN2).
The best UAA has ever done in the 25 years of the Great Alaska Shootout is fourth place, in 1986, 1987 and 1991. The Seawolves feature three players from Alaska, but none of them are from Southeast.