RJ Secrest scored a career-high 11 points off the bench to spark the Vikings to a 79-69 victory over Western Oregon. PHOTO: WWU Athletics

WWU Men Keep Postseason Hopes Alive With

Victory Over WOU

March 1, 2019 

BELLINGHAM, Wash. – In a must-win game to keep postseason hopes alive, the Western Washington University men’s basketball team put together one of its best performances of the season in a 79-69 victory over Western Oregon University Thursday night in Great Northwest Athletic Conference action on WECU Court in Carver Gym.

 

The Vikings improved to 15-14 overall and 9-10 in GNAC play, setting up another must-win game on Saturday against Concordia (10-17, 5-14) with tip-off at 7 pm in Carver Gym. Western Oregon, the defending conference regular-season and tournament champion, dropped to 19-9 overall and 12-7 in league play.

 

“The guys had great energy tonight, both at the start and the finish, and really played one of their best games of the season,” said WWU head coach Tony Dominguez. “We had a lot of players contribute and I thought we moved the ball very well. It was a balanced team win.”

 

The Vikings balanced offensive attack led to five players reaching double-figures in points, led by 20 points on 7-for-10 shooting from junior guard Tucker Eenigenburg (Bakersfield, CA/Bakersfield College). Junior forwards Trevor Jasinsky (Camas, WA) and Cameron Retherford (Portland, OR/Portland CC) each recorded 17-point double-doubles, with Retherford grabbing a game-high 11 boards and Jasinsky 10.

 

“Tucker had a great shooting night and did a little bit of everything for us,” added Dominguez. “And I thought Cam was a dynamic force for us in the first half and really

 

Redshirt freshman guard RJ Secrest (Silverdale, WA/Central Kitsap) sparked the Vikings off the bench with a career-high 11 points, going 2-for-5 from the field and 6-for-6 from the free throw line. Junior guard Leif Anderson (Bellingham, WA/Sehome/Whatcom CC) added 11 points on 4-for-6 shooting (3-4 3FG) before leaving the game midway through the fourth quarter with an injury.

 

“RJ was a great spark off the bench for us…and had the best game of his career,” said Dominguez. “We are excited about RJ as a player, and it was great to see him have that confidence in the second half and knock down some big free throws.”

 

The game was back-and-forth early with 10 lead changes, but the Vikings used a 26-9 run over the final nine minutes of the first half to take a 43-27 lead into halftime.

 

WOU scored the first nine points after halftime to trim the deficit to seven points at 43-36, and got as close as five points following a 3-pointer at the 1:22 mark, but the Vikings pulled away at the free throw line hitting 23-of-24 form the charity stripe in the second half. WWU, the GNAC’s top free throw shooting team at 78.8% for the season (446-for-566) was 31-for-33 for the game.

 

The Wolves were led by 15 points and 9 rebounds by junior forward Riley Hawken, 11 points by Dalven Brushier and 10 points and 7 rebounds by Buster Souza. WOU shot 39.3% for the game (24-for-61) and was 7-for-27 (25.9%) from 3-point range. 

 

THE PLAYOFF SCENARIO

Through games on Thursday, the Vikings, Simon Fraser and Montana State Billings are all 9-10 in GNAC play, and Alaska Anchorage is 9-11 after falling 67-56 to MSUB Thursday night. There are two remaining spots open for the GNAC Championships that will be held March 7-9 in Bellingham, hosted by WWU. The Vikings host Concordia, Simon Fraser will be at home against Western Oregon and Montana State Billings plays at Alaska Fairbanks on Saturday in the final day of the 2018-19 regular season. The GNAC Office will tentatively release a set of scenarios to clear up the tiebreaker process leading up to Saturday’s games.

 

THE RUN THAT MATTERED

The Vikings battled through 10 early lead changes to go on a 19-3 run, turning an 18-17 deficit into a 36-21 lead. Tucker Eenigenburg game the Vikings the lead for good with a 3-pointer at the 8:50 mark in the first half, and Leif Anderson capped the extensive run with a 3-pointer with 3:36 remaining in the half. WWU extended the run to 26-6 to build a 19-point lead at 43-25.

 

FIRST HALF BATTLE

After a back and forth beginning to the first half that saw nine consecutive lead changes, Western exploded for a 19-3 run to take a 43-27 (16-point) lead into halftime. The WWU run was sparked by Trevor Jasinsky stealing the ball after a scramble and finding an open Eenigenburg in the corner for his first 3-point basket of the night. The run saw Western make four 3’s and one three-point play courtesy of Cameron Retherford’s dunk at the 4:19 mark. At the break, the Vikings were led in all statistical categories by Jasinsky (11 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists), followed by Eenigenburg with 10 points and Retherford with 9. 

 

SECURING THE VICTORY

A 9-0 run out of halftime saw the Wolves cut the deficit to 7, led by a pair of Kaleb Warner’s 3-point plays on the first two possessions of the half. The Vikings only made six field goals on 25% shooting in the second half (6-for-24), but the GNAC leaders in free throw percentage were 21-for-23 from the charity stripe, including a scoring 21 of the team’s final 23 points (final 13). Tucker Eenigenburg led the Vikings with 10 points in the second half, with RJ Secrest contributing 8 of his career-high 11 points while playing 18 of the 20 minutes in the half.  

 

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING

WWU led for 31:27, WOU held a lead for 7:45 (all in the first half) and the game was tied for 48 seconds…WWU never relinquished the lead after Tucker Eenigenburg hit a 3-pointer at the 8:50 mark in the first half…WWU’s bench scored 42 points, compared to 28 points by WOU reserves…the Vikings won the battle of the boards with a 39-33 advantage in rebounds…WWU had two players record a double-double for the first time this season, and the first time since Trey Drechsel, Deandre Dickson and Daulton Hommes each had a double-double Jan. 6, 2018 vs. Central Washington...Trevor Jasinsky played all 40 minutes and leads the GNAC averaging 35.4 minutes per game…Jasinsky has scored in double-digits in 27 of 29 games and leads the team with five double-doubles…Jasinsky remains No. 21 in WWU history with 1,062 career points (89 games)…Tucker Eenigenburg recorded his third 20-point game of the season…the Vikings were without starting forward Luke Lovelady for the seventh consecutive game due to injury.

 

UP NEXT

The Vikings (15-14, 9-10 GNAC) conclude the 2018-19 regular season Saturday hosting Concordia at 7 pm on WECU Court. WWU’s lone senior Tyler Payne will be honored in a special pregame ceremony. Tickets are available to purchase in advance for the home games by visiting WWUVikings.com/Tickets.

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