Vikings Prove Regional Mettle, Earn Team of the Week
Western Washington women's basketball rose to No. 2 in the D2SIDA West Region rankings after beating previous No. 2 Azusa Pacific and No. 3 Cal State San Marcos at the CSUSM Hoops Classic.
Western Washington women's basketball rose to No. 2 in the D2SIDA West Region rankings after beating previous No. 2 Azusa Pacific and No. 3 Cal State San Marcos at the CSUSM Hoops Classic.

Monday, November 22, 2021

PORTLAND, Ore. – In the inaugural D2SIDA West Region rankings, the Western Washington women’s basketball team slotted in at No. 4, only looking up at three projected conference champions – the GNAC’s Alaska Anchorage, the PacWest’s Azusa Pacific and the CCAA’s Cal State San Marcos. After defeating two of those teams this week, the Vikings are higher in the rankings this time around.

Western Washington recorded two key head-to-head wins at the CSUSM Hoops Classic, soundly defeating a national top-10 Azusa Pacific team by a score of 73-57 and knocking off Cal State San Marcos on their home floor, 78-73. For their 2-0 week against two preseason conference favorites, the Vikings were named the GNAC’s Team of the Week.

"It was a great team effort all weekend with so many players stepping up at different times,” head coach Carmen Dolfo said. “Our defense dictated our whole weekend, which led to success on both ends of the court. I am very proud of this team for battling through adversity with so many games on the road to open the season against very tough competition.”

Emma Duff led the way for the Vikings, averaging a double-double for the week with 20.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. Senior guard Dani Iwami averaged 10 points and four assists per game, while junior Mollie Olson chipped in 11 points per game.

Azusa Pacific entered the game ranked fifth in the WBCA Coaches Poll and seventh in the D2SIDA poll, but Western Washington left no doubt as to who was the better team. The Vikings won in the paint, as center Carley Zaragoza shot 7 of 12 from the field for 14 points. They won at the three-point line, holding the Cougars to just 3-for-19 shooting from behind the arc while Duff, Iwami and Monique Fierke each drained two triples for WWU.

Duff was everywhere, posting a double-double of 23 points and 13 rebounds. Duff was 8-for-17 from the field and 5 of 6 from the line. She scored 13 points in a third quarter in which the Vikings outscored APU 22-12 and gained control of the game after leading by six at the half. Led by Duff, the Vikings outrebounded Azusa Pacific 45-30, with Katrina Gimmaka (seven), Brooke Walling (six) and Zaragoza (five) also producing in that category.

Riding a high after that statement win, WWU had to manage their emotions to avoid a letdown game against Cal State San Marcos, who was ranked third in the West Region rankings, had won their opening two games and were playing in their home gym. The Vikings didn’t let off the gas, opening up a six-point lead after the first quarter and staying on top on their way to a five-point win.

Duff was Western Washington’s leading scorer once again. The senior guard had 18 points and was remarkably efficient, shooting 80 percent from the field. Walling had 13 points, including two three-pointers, and Walling and Duff grabbed eight rebounds apiece. Olson recorded 12 points, which included going 5-for-6 on free throw attempts. Iwami had a solid game at point guard with 10 points and five assists.

The Vikings shot over 50 percent from the field for the game, making 31 of 61 attempts, while CSUSM could only muster 39 percent shooting against the Vikings’ defense. Western Washington also had a rebounding advantage, pulling down 35 boards to the home team’s 32.

Up next, Western Washington has a two-game road trip to Colorado, facing Regis on Friday and Colorado Christian on Saturday. The Vikings now sit at No. 2 in the West Region rankings.