Vikings host the West Region Crossover Classic Friday and Saturday in on WECU Court in Carver Gym. PHOTO: WWU Athletics
WWU Women's Basketball Opens 2018-19 Season Tonight
November 9, 2018
BELLINGHAM, Wash – The Western Washington University women’s basketball team officially opens the 2018-19 season this weekend, hosting the West Region Crossover Classic tonight and Saturday in Carver Gym.
The Vikings host Humboldt State, Fresno Pacific and Seattle Pacific in the two-day, four-game tournament that features two games both Friday and Saturday, at 5 pm and 7:30 pm. WWU will play that late game each day, beginning with Friday’s season-opener vs. Humboldt State.
2018 West Region Crossover Classic
Western Washington, Seattle Pacific, Humboldt State, Fresno Pacific
Following the West Region Crossover Classic this weekend, the Vikings will make a short road trip down Interstate 5 to play in the Sodexo Tip-Off Classic hosted by Seattle Pacific University at Brougham Pavilion…WWU will face a pair of tough teams with regional match-ups against Azusa Pacific and UC San Diego…both games start at 1 pm in Seattle…Azusa Pacific (PacWest) and UC San Diego (CCAA) were both selected first in their conference preseason coaches polls.
THE PRESEASON GNAC POLL
WWU has been selected to tie for third place in the annual Great Northwest Athletic Conference Preseason Coaches Poll, receiving 83 points in the vote of the conference’s 11 head coaches to tie with border rival Simon Fraser…defending league co-champion Northwest Nazarene received 6 of the 11 first-place votes and 116 points to edge Alaska Anchorage by one point for the top spot…UAA received the remaining five first-place votes to earn the No. 2 spot, followed by WWU and SFU in a tie for third and Central Washington in fifth with 77 points.
The Vikings four starters and seven letterwinners from last year’s squad that went 12-16 overall and 8-12 in the GNAC…WWU finished the second half of the GNAC schedule last season 5-5, narrowly missing the conference tournament, with two of the defeats by just two points…the 11-player squad for 2018-19 includes one senior, three juniors, three sophomores and four freshmen.
Junior guard Dani Iwami (Seal Beach, CA/Los Alamitos/Hawai'i Pacific) was named to the All-GNAC Preseason Team…Iwami was named the 2017-18 GNAC Newcomer of the Year after averaging 9.4 points and 4.0 assists per game…in WWU’s lone exhibition game vs. Trinity Western (89-55 victory), Iwami led all players with 26 points.
Sophomore guard Gracie Castaneda (Arlington, WA) is WWU’s leading returning scorer after averaging 10.6 points per game while starting 26 of 28 games…junior center Anna Schwecke (Evergreen, CO/Clear Creek) is WWU’s leading returning rebounder, ranking 5th in the conference in 2017-18 averaging 6.9 rebounds per game in 2017-18 after transferring from Colorado-Colorado Springs…junior guard Lexie Bland (Ellensburg, WA) averaged 3.0 assists per game to rank 8th in the GNAC last season and is the Vikings most veteran player heading into the season with 53 career games played…sophomores Emma Duff (Tumwater, WA/Black Hills) and Kelsey Rogers (Bothell, WA/Lynnwood) are coming off strong freshman seasons and both started in the exhibition game vs. Trinity Western.
The 11-player roster, 10 of which will suit up for the 2018-19 season, features only one senior, guard Bobbi Westendorf (Auburn, WA/Kentridge/Tacoma CC)…Westendorf appeared in 20 games last season, making two starts, and averaged 2.8 points per game.
WWU’s four freshmen include a pair of local products in Nooksack Valley’s Katrina Gimmaka (F, Everson, WA) and Lynden Christian’s Avery Dykstra (G, Lynden, WA)…both were WIAA First Team All-State selections during their senior year in the Northwest Conference…freshman guard Mollie Olson (Napavine, WA) was also an All-State selection out of Napavine High School averaging 17.8 points, 7.3 assists, 6.4 rebounds, 3.1 steals and 1.3 blocks per game during her senior season…guard Monique Fierke (Monroe, WA) is scheduled to redshirt in 2018-19.
THE COACHING STAFF
Head coach Carmen Dolfo enters her 28th season leading the program, amassing 20 seasons of 20-or-more wins and a career record of 573-223 for a .720 winning percentage…last season WWU joined the elite ranks of only a select number of programs across all NCAA women’s basketball divisions to record the 1,000th win in school history…Dolfo’s coaching staff includes seventh-year assistant coachStacey Turrell, along with graduate and student assistants Kayla Bernsen and Amanda Lance.
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