Back On Top, Vikings Named Team Of The Week
Western Washington returned to first place in the GNAC with its win over UAA.
Western Washington returned to first place in the GNAC with its win over UAA.

Monday, January 9, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. – Western Washington’s men’s basketball team picked up two important wins to regain sole possession of first place in the conference standings and win this week’s Red Lion/GNAC Team of the Week award.

The Vikings welcomed both the GNAC’s representatives from the 49th state to Bellingham, Wash., and beat both by single-digit margins improve to 5-1 in GNAC play this year.

Against Alaska on Thursday, the Vikings doubled their opponent’s rebounding tally, 42-21. The Vikings never trailed in the second half, leading by as much as 16 points following a Blake Fernandez lay-up. Western Washington held on for a 78-69 victory behind Jeffrey Parker’s 18 points with 8 of 15 field goals made.

On Saturday against Alaska Anchorage, Taylor Stafford tallied a team-high 32 points, marking the fourth time this year that he has scored at least 30 points in a game. His effort paced the Vikings’ 91-84 win over the Seawolves, breaking the tie for first place. Again, the Vikings never trailed in the second half. The Vikings lead the conference offensively with 90.9 points per game and lead in field-goal percentage and 3-point field-goal percentage.

Stafford played every minute of the game and made 9 of 14 shots from the field and 6 of 10 from beyond the arc, while going a perfect 8 for 8 at the charity stripe. Parker added 21 points of his own, going 6 for 8 from the field, including 3 for 4 from beyond the arc. Daulton Hommes played all 20 minutes of the second half and scored 11 points in the half, making 4 of 5 shots from the field.

"Taylor (Stafford) and Jeffrey (Parker) came out in rhythm and really sparked us,” WWU head coach Tony Dominguez said. “At the start of the second half we knew Anchorage would key on them, so we wanted to get Daulton (Hommes) more involved. We called plays for him and he responded."

As a team, the Vikings went 30 for 32 from the free-throw line against UAA.

"We hit a stretch where we lost a few games after a great start and doubt starts to set in," Dominguez said. "To change that, you have to focus and dial in. We did that in some good stretches and took a good step forward. I am proud of the guys for the way they practiced all week and competed."

Stafford now ranks third in the conference in scoring with 22.5 points per game and Parker has 17.2 points per game which ranks sixth. Their combined 39.7 points per game is the best of any duo of teammates in the conference.

Western Washington, which is undefeated in road games this year, will go to Oregon next week to play Concordia on Thursday and then play at Western Oregon on Saturday.