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Alaska excursion starts with a victory for SFU women's basketball

The Burnaby-based Red Leafs won their first GNAC conference contest of the 2023-24 season, continuing their dominance on the road.
Gemma Cutler (#11) drives to the hoop for the SFU Red Leafs women's basketball team.

Before the start of the new year, the Simon Fraser University (SFU) women's basketball team had only played one meaningful game in its 2023-24 season.

The Red Leafs did play 14 games on the 2023 side, but its match-up with Western Washington on Dec. 2, that ended in a loss, was the only Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) tilt.

Now, the hunt is on for a GNAC banner and it's began Thursday night, Jan. 4, just south of the Arctic Circle.

The Burnaby-based Red Leafs defeated the University of Alaska-Fairbanks by a score of 85-74, improving their GNAC record to 1-1 and overall total to 9-6.

Every other game between now and the playoffs will be inter-conference play.

The victory also further solidified SFU's road-warrior reputation as it was the eighth win away from home this season.

That included six road wins in a row between Nov. 10 and 25. The Red Leafs added a win on home court to make it seven consecutive games — one shy of the school record of eight.

On Thursday, Gemma Cutler led SFU on the scoresheet with 24 points and a career-best 16 rebounds. The North Vancouver forward is currently the eighth-best shooter in all of NCAA Div. II after improving her seasonal average to 62 per cent.

Fellow junior Sophia Wisotzki notched 22 points against Alaska-Fairbanks. Jessica Wisotzki and Grace Killins also recorded double-digit nights with 16 and 12 points respectively.

SFU is still in the 49th state and will face the University of Alaska-Anchorage tomorrow night, Jan. 6, against the Seawolves.

The Red Leafs' first GNAC home games are set for next Thursday, Jan. 11, and Saturday, Jan. 13, when they host Northwest Nazarene (Idaho) and Central Washington.

Both have 7 p.m. tip-offs in West Gym on SFU's Burnaby campus (8888 University Dr.)

Meanwhile, the SFU men's basketball team has lost six in a row, which included its GNAC conference home-opener Thursday in a 74-68 decision to Saint Martin's (Wash.).

Their overall record is 2-11.

The Red Leafs is Saturday in West Gym at 7 p.m. against Western Oregon.