Ashland Beats Western Washington 66-54 in NCAA Semis
Waltrip  scored 28 points to lead Vikings.
Waltrip scored 28 points to lead Vikings.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Despite a game-high 28 points from guard Corinn Waltrip, a splendid season came to an end for Western Washington as the Vikings fell 66-54 to Ashland University Wednesday in a NCAA Division II semifinal contest at Bill Greehey Arena.

The Vikings, ranked No.5 nationally, concluded their season with a 29-4 record.

Ashland, ranked No.2, improved to 36-1. The Eagles, who lost in the championship game in 2012, were led by senior forward Kari Daugherty, the WBCA and Daktronics NCAA Division II National Player of the Year, who had 24 points and 16 rebounds.

Ashland advances to the national championship game Friday against Gannon, which defeated Augustana (SD) 76-54  in Wednesday’s other semifinal contest.

WWU was hampered by cold shooting, scoring a season-low 54 points and shooting a season-low 29.5 percent (18-of-61) from the field.

The Vikings trailed by 10 (35-25) with 15 minutes left, before using a run of eight straight points to close the margin to two (35-33) on a 3-pointer by Katie Colard with 13:20 to play.  

But Ashland responded shortly after with a 14-2 run that gave the Eagles a 51-37 advantage, the biggest of the game, with 7:51 remaining. The Vikings battled back to within seven on two occasions, but got no closer.  

“It’s been a fantastic year,” said WWU coach Carmen Dolfo. “This team is a bunch of fighters, they never give up. Even in this game, they could have rolled over a couple times and didn’t.”

The Vikings made just one of their first 11 shots from the field, and trailed by as much as 12 points in the first half.  Ashland held a 29-19 lead at halftime, having held WWU to just 25.0 percent (8-of-32) field-goal shooting.

“I think we were very tentative in the first half,” Dolfo said.  “In the second half we got back in the game and Ashland just kept holding us off.  Sometimes when you dig a big hole, it’s hard to dig out. We just could never get over the hump.”        

Center Britt Harris had 11 points and nine rebounds for the Vikings, and guard Jenni White   came off the bench to score seven points on 3-of-3 field-goal shooting.

Forward Daiva Gerbec had 19 points and seven rebounds for Ashland, which had a 43-35 advantage in rebounds, including a 22-13 margin in the second half.

Waltrip, who had 22 points in the second half and at one point scored 16 consecutive Viking points, finished her career with 1,087 points, 14th in school history.

WWU’s 29 wins on the season ended up just short of tying the school record.