Vikings Upset No. 9 MSUB To Take GNAC Team Of The Week
Western Washington moved into a tie for first place in the conference standings and earned GNAC Team of the Week honors by taking two more wins, including a 76-68 victory over No. 9 MSUB last week.
Western Washington moved into a tie for first place in the conference standings and earned GNAC Team of the Week honors by taking two more wins, including a 76-68 victory over No. 9 MSUB last week.

Monday, January 29, 2024
by Thomas Lal

PORTLAND, Ore. –  The Western Washington women’s basketball team could not be denied last week, taking a victory over No. 9 Montana State Billings in a ranked battle and extending its win streak to seven games en route to GNAC Team of the Week honors.

The No. 17 Vikings kicked off a season-long four-game homestand last week with a strong 73-61 win over Seattle Pacific on Thursday before taking possibly their biggest win of the season so far with a 76-68 decision over the nationally-ranked Yellowjackets. The victory marked MSUB’s first loss of the conference slate and preserved WWU’s perfect 10-0 record in front of the Bellingham faithful heading into the second half of the GNAC schedule.

“I am proud of the way the team leaned on each other during the games last week,” head coach Carmen Dolfo said after her team moved into a tie for first in the GNAC standings with an 8-1 record (16-3 overall). “They played great defense and really shared the ball well. They are a group that is very much defined by ‘WE’ and rose to the occasion against two good teams. Any time you head into a big game like the one against a good team like Billings, you have high expectations. They worked hard improving from one day to the next and played a great game on Saturday. There is a lot of basketball left in the second half of the GNAC season, but I love this group and their ability to feed off each other.”

Western Washington’s first win of the week was set up by a robust defensive effort in the first quarter where they allowed the Falcons to shoot just 30% (9 of 30) from the field and 23.1% (3 of 13) from three-point range. Across the full 40 minutes, the Vikings shut down the SPU offense to 36.2% from the field and 30% from long range while forcing 16 turnovers on eight steals.

Senior guard Stephanie Peterson was a big part of the defensive effort across the week, starting her weekend with five steals and three blocks against SPU. Peterson proved to be a big presence on both sides of the ball, notching her first double-double of the season in the win with 15 points and 10 rebounds to go along with five assists. Senior forward Brooke Walling led all players with 20 points to go with six rebounds, four assists, two blocks and two steals of her own.

Junior guard Riley Dykstra and sophomore guard Mason Oberg made it a quartet of Vikings in double digits against SPU with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Dykstra also added three rebounds and two assists while Oberg picked up three assists, a steal and one rebound off the bench.

The Vikings set the tone early in their nationally-ranked showdown with the Yellowjackets, jumping out to a 24-15 lead in the first quarter where they shot 76.9% from the field, including a perfect 4 for 4 from beyond the three-point arc. Long-range shooting proved to be a strength for WWU throughout the tilt, as they racked up 10 three-pointers from six different players.

While the Yellowjackets pushed back in the second half, Western Washington weathered the storm to take a slim 34-30 lead into halftime. The third quarter had shades of the opening frame as the Vikings outscored MSUB 22-11 and survived another late push by the ‘Jackets to secure the win. The Vikings showed why they possess one of the top-ranked field goal percentage defenses in Division II as they held MSUB to just 38.3% from the field on the night.

Peterson proved to be a difference-maker once again on a night of balanced scoring for WWU. The Broomfield, Colo., native finished the contest with 10 points and was just shy of a double-double with nine rebounds. She also notched six assists, six steals and a block on the way to being named the GNAC Player of the Week. Walling led all players in scoring once again with 18 points to go along with eight rebounds, two assists and a steal while playing all but four minutes of the game.

It was Oberg who led the way from downtown, cashing in for four three-pointers on a night where she finished with 14 points and two assists. Junior forward Aspen Garrison and junior guard Maddy Grandbois picked up 11 points apiece to make it five Vikings in the double digits. Garrison went 5-9 from the field, adding five rebounds, an assist and a steal while Grandbois was a perfect 4 for 4 from the field and 2 for 2 from the free throw line to go along with two assists, two steals and a rebound.

Western Washington will be back in action with two games at home this week, hosting Alaska on Thursday and Alaska Anchorage on Saturday.

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