Choppy Waters Deliver Vikings To Championships Final
Western Washington's Brooke Walling led the Vikings to the GNAC Championships final at home with 10 points as WWU defeated Seattle Pacific 58-53.
Western Washington's Brooke Walling led the Vikings to the GNAC Championships final at home with 10 points as WWU defeated Seattle Pacific 58-53.

Friday, March 3, 2023

BELLINGHAM, Wash. – Western Washington sent the Viking faithful home happy with a 58-53 win over Seattle Pacific to advance to the finals of the GNAC Championships.

Nothing came easy for the Vikings in front of a raucous home crowd as they traded the lead back and forth with the Falcons until the final two minutes of the game. Freshman guard Mason Oberg handed the Vikings the final lead of the game with a three-pointer to make the score 55-53. Oberg finished the night with nine points, one assist and one steal. She went 3 for 6 from the field and 3 for 4 from three-point range.

Junior forward Brooke Walling led Western Washington to victory with 10 points on 3 of 4 from the field and 4 of 7 from the free-throw line. She also tallied totals of nine rebounds, two assists and a steal.

The first half proved to be a defensive battle, with Western Washington heading into halftime with a 27-24 lead. Neither team was able to make the most of their opportunities but the Vikings held the narrow advantage, shooting 29.6% from the field and 12.5% from three-point range. Seattle Pacific sophomore guard Hunter Beirne led all scorers through the first 20 minutes with eight points.

The third quarter yielded little separation as well, though Seattle Pacific was able to capture the lead by the end of the quarter to hold a 43-40 advantage going into the final 10 minutes. Both Natalie Hoff and Maya Hoff were valuable contributors down the stretch, working the play down low and grabbing offensive rebounds. Seattle Pacific finished the game pulling in 11 offensive boards while Western Washington had six.

Natalie Hoff finished the night with nine points, three rebounds, and assist and a steal while shooting 2 for 5 from the field and 5 for 6 from the free-throw line. Maya Hoff finished with eight points, four rebounds two steals, two blocks and an assist.

Western Washington did not have one scorer in the double digits until the final minute of the game but kept pace with a full team effort that resulted in eight Vikings with points on the scoresheet. Of those eight players, three finished with nine points.

The Dykstra sisters were two of those who played a key role for WWU and finished on nine points. Riley Dykstra finished the game 3 for 6 from the field while Avery Dykstra finished 3 for 8 from the field. As a team, Western Washington finished the game shooting 39.% from the field and 33.3% from long range.

Ashley Alter played some of her best basketball for Seattle Pacific in the second half, finishing the night leading all scorers with 14 points as she battled to keep the Falcons in the fight until the very end. She also added five rebounds and an assist while shooting 5 for 15 from the field and 4 for 4 from the free-throw line.

Western Washington will face No. 2 seed Montana State Billings in the GNAC Championships final tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. in Bellingham.