Lexie Bland had 8 points in 26 minutes in the 53-48 win over MSU Billings. PHOTO: WWU Athletics
Vikings End Regular Season With Win at MSUB
March 1, 2019
BILLINGS, Mont. – The Western Washington University women’s basketball team closed out the regular season with a 53-48 road victory over Montana State Billings Thursday evening in Great Northwest Athletic Conference action in Alterowitz Gymnasium.
The Vikings improved to 16-12 overall and finished conference play with an 11-9 record. Western will finish amongst the top six teams in the conference, advancing to the GNAC Championships that will be played March 7-9 in Bellingham with WWU serving as the tournament host.
WWU overcame a cold shooting night (31.3%) by turning in a solid defensive effort, allowing only 20 second-half points. The Vikings trailed 28-27 at the half, but came out strong in the third quarter allowing 3 points to the Yellowjackets to build a 37-31 lead.
MSUB pulled even at 39-39 early in the fourth quarter, but the Vikings pulled away late going 8-for-9 from the free throw line to record the five-point victory.
Freshman forward Katrina Gimmaka (Everson, WA/Nooksack Valley) recorded her first career double-double, totaling 11 points and 12 rebounds. Gimmaka was 2-for-5 shooting, including the go-ahead 3-pointer at the 5:47 mark in the fourth quarter to break the 39-39 tie.
Junior Kelsey Rogers (Bothell, WA/Lynnwood) led the Vikings with 13 points, going 7-for-8 from the free throw line (6-for-6 in the 4thquarter). Freshman guard Avery Dykstra (Lynden, WA/Lynden Christian) equaled her career-high with 6 assists and set a career-high with 6 rebounds.
WWU again held its opponent to a low shooting percentage, with MSUB at 26.7% (16-for-60), coming after the Vikings held Simon Fraser to the same mark on Tuesday night in a 67-49 victory.
Taylor Cunningham led MSUB with 11 points on 5-for-14 shooting and Taryn Shelley contributed 10 points. The Yellowjackets dropped to 11-14 on the season and 7-12 in GNAC play.
PULLING AWAY LATE
MSUB out-scored WWU 17-16 in the final quarter, but WWU was 8-for-9 from the free throw line to seal the five-point victory. Rogers scored 6 of her team-high 13 points in the final quarter, all from the free throw line.
STINGY THIRD QUARTER
The Vikings allowed only three points in the third quarter, out-scoring the Yellowjackets 10-3 to take a 37-31 lead into the final quarter of play. WWU scored the first four points of the quarter to grab a 31-28 lead, and then finished on a 6-1 run. The three points allowed were the second-fewest permitted by the Vikings in the four seasons of the quarter system for women’s collegiate basketball, trailing only two points surrendered to Fresno Pacific in the 2nd quarter on Nov. 12, 2016.
TOUGH SECOND QUARTER
MSUB quickly erased its 9-point deficit, going on a 9-0 run to open the second quarter. The Vikings had only one field goal in the first 7:30 of the quarter, a 3-pointer by Lexie Bland, and trailed by six points 28-22. WWU finished the quarter on a 5-0 run, with a 3-pointer by Mollie Olson pulling the Vikings to within one point at 28-27 heading into the half. After starting 6-for-8 from the field, WWU was 2-for-14 in the second quarter.
OFF TO A GOOD START
The Vikings built an 8-point lead at 19-11 through the first quarter, shooting 6-for-8 from the floor in the first 10 minutes of play. After falling behind 7-4, the Vikings ended the quarter on a 15-4 run to build the lead. Kelsey Rogers led the Vikings with 7 points on 3-for-4 shooting, while Taryn Shelley had 5 points for the Yellowjackets.
WWU earned the series sweep over the Yellowjackets, a team that advanced to the NCAA II Elite 8 a year ago…the Vikings lead the all-time series 24-16 and is now 9-9 all-time in Alterowitz Gym.
WWU has clinched one of the six spots in the 2018-19 GNAC Women’s Basketball Championships that will be played March 7-9 in Carver Gym. Final tournament seeding and brackets will be announced on GNACSports.com following Saturday’s regular-season finales (WWU plays its last game on Thursday). This marks the eighth time in the nine-year history of the championships that WWU has made the postseason conference tournament, winning in back-to-back years in 2013-14.
The Vikings will play next Thursday in the quarterfinals of the 2019 GNAC Championships in Carver Gym on the WWU campus. The brackets and tournament schedule will be announced Saturday evening following the conclusion of all games.
-- @WWUWBB --