WWU's Lexie Bland (L) and Kelsey Rogers combined for 33 points in a
83-78 GNAC Tournament loss to NNU. PHOTOS: Doug Lange
WWU Season Ends with GNAC Semifinal Loss
March 8, 2019
BELLINGHAM, Wash. – The Western Washington University women’s basketball team gave everything they had against one of the top teams in the nation, but fell short of the upset in an 83-78 loss to nationally-ranked No. 9 Northwest Nazarene Friday afternoon in the semifinal round of the 2019 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships.
The No. 6 seed Vikings held a lead midway through the 3rd quarter against the No. 2 seed Nighthawks, but a second-half scoring spurt and a decisive advantage in rebounds by NNU proved to be the difference in the five-point defeat on WECU Court in Carver Gym.
With a youthful roster that featured two juniors, three sophomores and three freshmen among the eight players that saw action on Friday, the Vikings finished their season 17-13 overall. NNU improved to 27-2 overall and will face No. 1 seed and GNAC regular-season champion Alaska Anchorage in the tournament championship game Saturday at 5:20 pm in a game that will be streamed nationwide on ESPN3/WatchESPN with Darren Goldwater and Leah Secondo calling the action from Carver Gym.
The fast-paced game between WWU and NNU featured seven lead changes and five tie scores, with the Nighthawks pulling away going on a 17-4 run to end the 3rd quarter. WWU went on an 8-0 run late in the 4th quarter pulling to within two possessions, but had the comeback attempt fall short.
“I am so incredibly proud of the team’s effort and tenacity today, especially on defense,” said 28th-year head coach Carmen Dolfo. “They never backed down and played incredibly tough against a very good team. It is never a good feeling to end the season like this, but this is a great step for a very young program and can’t wait to get back to work getting ready for the 2019-20 season.”
The Vikings shot a season-high 52.3% from the field, connecting on 23-of-44 shots, and tied a season high with eight 3-pointers (8-for-13/61.5%). WWU was hurt on the boards with NNU holding a decisive 41-19 edge in total rebounds and a 19-1 advantage in offensive rebounds. WWU entered the game as the leading rebounding team in the GNAC averaging 40.1 rebounds per game.
Junior guard Lexie Bland led the Vikings with 17 points, with 16 coming in the first half. Bland was 2-for-8 shooting, hitting a pair of 3-pointers, and was 11-for-12 from the free throw line. Bland also had a team-high 4 assists, but left the game late in the 4th quarter with an injury as the Vikings were mounting their comeback.
Sophomore guard Gracie Castaneda came off the bench to score a season-high 14 points, with 12 coming in the 4th quarter.
Sophomore forward Kelsey Rogers had 16 points on 7-for-9 shooting and recorded a team-high 5 rebounds. Also reaching double-figure scoring for Western was sophomore guard Emma Duff with 12 points (4-for-8 FG, 3-for-4 3FG). Freshman guard Avery Dykstra had 9 points and 3 assists.
Northwest Nazarene had four players reach double-figures in scoring, led by 18 points from guard Avery Albrecht on 6-for-13 shooting. Danielle Jardine added 14 points and 8 rebounds off the bench, connecting on 6-for-10 from the field. NNU out-scored the Vikings 52-22 in the paint and had 28 second-chance points.
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3/8/19 - WWU vs. NNU Semifinal Photo Gallery (Click to expand). PHOTOS: Doug Lange