No.11 Vikings edge No.7 Simon Fraser, 59-57, in battle of GNAC unbeatens

WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM Britt Harris and Jenni White
WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM
Britt Harris and Jenni White
WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM

Jan. 12, 2013

Box Score

BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Center Britt Harris (Sr., Marysville/Marysville-Pilchuck) scored on a layup at the buzzer to lift Western Washington University to a 59-57 victory over Simon Fraser University in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference women's basketball contest Saturday featuring two nationally ranked foes at Sam Carver Gymnasium on the WWU campus.

Harris had 14 points, 12 in the second half, to help the Vikings, ranked No.11 in this week's USA Today Sports/ESPN NCAA Division II Top 25 Poll, improve to 11-2 overall and 5-0 in the GNAC with their fifth straight triumph.

Simon Fraser, No.7 nationally, had an eight-game winning streak snapped and fell to 11-2 overall and 4-1 in conference play.

Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe, who leads NCAA II nationally in field goal percentage (68.4) and is second in rebounds (12.8), had 14 points and 21 rebounds for the Clan. That improved her GNAC record for double-doubles to 52.

The score was tied at 53-53 entering the final minute before the two teams, who went scoreless the first 3:55 of the game, combined to score on five consecutive possessions.

Forward Sarah Hill (Jr., Richmond, VA) put the Vikings in front with a layin with 53.5 seconds left, but Raincock-Ekunwe answered on a post- up to even the score at 55-55 with 41.4 to play.

Harris then hit a jumper from the right baseline with 13.8 seconds remaining, but Raincock responded again with a reverse layup with 5.1 left.

The Vikings did not take a time out, and guard Corinn Waltrip (Sr., Tigard, OR) raced up the middle of the floor, and while stumbling as she reached the foul line, fed Harris for a right-side layup as time expired.

Forward Trishi Williams (Sr., Mabton) had 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists for WWU. Williams tied the game at 53-53 on a fastbreak layin with 1:53 to play, and assisted on WWU's first two field goals of the final minute.

Guard Katie Colard (So., McCleary/Elma) had 11 points for the Vikings, and Hill added 10.

Guard Kristina Collins scored 13 points for SFU, and forward Erin Chambers contributed 11.

SFU had a 29-23 lead at halftime. The Clan held WWU scoreless for more than six minutes to start the contest before Jenni White (So., Spokane/East Valley) hit a 3-pointer, and SFU eventually opened up a 19-12 lead, the biggest of the game, with 5:16 left in the half.

The Vikings are now 7-0 at home this season and have won their last 11 Carver Gym contests overall.

It was the sixth straight series win for WWU, which holds a 39-31 advantage.

WWU continues a three-game home stand with GNAC counters against Seattle Pacific on Thursday (7 p.m.), Jan. 17, and Montana State Billings on Saturday (7 p.m.), Jan. 19.

Western's seniors produce buzzer-beating win over Simon Fraser

By DAVID RASBACH -- THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

Western Washington University women's basketball coach Carmen Dolfo knew she didn't need to set up a play in the closing seconds - with four seniors in her lineup, the best thing was to just let them play.

And play they did.

After giving up a game-tying bucket with 5.1 seconds left on the game clock Saturday, Jan. 12, in a battle between the final two remaining unbeaten teams in Great Northwest Athletic Conference play, Western senior center Britt Harris picked herself up off the Sam Carver Gymnasium Court and sprinted toward the Vikings' basket. Fellow senior guard Corinn Waltrip quickly brought the ball up the court, stumbled near the foul line and fed Harris for a lay-in at the buzzer, as No. 11 Western beat No. 7 Simon Fraser 59-57.

"We didn't set anything up," Harris said of the play. "I just saw there were a few more seconds on the clock, and I ran as hard as I could. I saw Corinn working the ball up the court, and she got it to me. It was just amazing."

Not bad for a play that "just happened," according to Harris, who finished with a team-high 14 points and seven rebounds.

Nothing was set up during a Simon Fraser timeout with 8 seconds remaining in regulation and Western clinging to a 57-55 lead, which Harris also provided on a short, baseline jumper off a beautiful one-touch pass from Trishi Williams with 13.8 seconds to play.

Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe erased the advantage after the timeout, when she took advantage of Harris' fall on a pass into the post on right side from Meg Wilson. Raincock-Ekunwe turned and drove to the bucket to tie the game with 5.1 seconds remaining.

But there was no way, Dolfo said, that she was going to take a timeout to set up a response.

"I had my seniors on the court," Dolfo said. "They know what they're supposed to do. ... There was no way I wanted a timeout there to give them a chance to set up defensively."

The Vikings' seniors and Dolfo certainly looked brilliant after that decision.

Of course, a last-second win always looks good. With the win, No. 11 Western (11-2, 5-0 GNAC) is the lone remaining unbeaten team in conference play, as the Vikings stretched their win streak to five straight.

"They're a good team," Dolfo said. "We got lucky to get this one, especially after the way we played in the first half."

The first half was indeed one that the Vikings would like to forget, as they had more turnovers (14) than field goals (nine).

The result was a 29-23 halftime deficit.

"I don't know why, but we came out tentative," Dolfo said.

But that started to change early in the second half.

A 3-pointer from Katie Colard - her third of the game - with 16:55 to play, ignited an 11-0 Western run over the next three-plus minutes to turn a 34-28 deficit into a 39-34 lead.

After Collard's 3-pointer, Western did a good job of working the ball into the post. Harris scored six points during the run off assists from Waltrip, Colard and Williams, and fellow post Kayla Bernsen added another bucket off a good feed from Waltrip, who finished with a team-high seven assists.

Harris repeatedly did a good job of getting behind Raincock-Ekunwe to provide an open target and a clear path the basket.

"I had to stop playing like a wuss," said Harris, who scored 12 points in the second half. "In the first half, I was giving in to them. During the second half I started to fight for it a little more."

The Clan (11-2, 4-1) answered the challenge from Harris and the Vikings, though, as Simon Fraser slowly surged back and reclaimed the lead at 51-49 on a 3-pointer from Kia Van Laare with 5:01 to play and increased the lead to four points on a pair of Raincock-Ekunwe free throws 58 seconds later.

It was Western's turn to come back, and the Vikings responded with a pair of free throws from Sarah Hill and a Williams steal and lay-up on consecutive possessions to knot the score at 53 with 1:50 to play.

The game was tied again at 55 with 41.4 seconds to play after Hill and Raincock-Ekunwe traded points in the paint.

The Vikings regained the lead when Williams received a cross-court pass and whipped it to Harris for her short jumper, setting up Raincock-Ekunwe's game-tying basket at the other end and eventually Waltrip's and Harris' last-second heroics.

"I thought Corinn was going to take it the entire way, but they picked her up," Dolfo said of the game-winning play. "She made a real heads-up play finding Britt. ... It was amazing watching Britt go down at the other end of the court, pick herself up and get down the court that fast. She showed some real determination."

Harris was joined in double figures by Williams with 12, Colard with 11 and Hill with 10. Williams also pulled down a team-high eight rebounds.

Raincock-Ekunwe, who entered the game second in the conference in scoring at 16.4 points per game, was relatively quiet offensively through most of the game, as her two buckets in the final minute gave her 14 for the game. But where she certainly was not silent was on the glass, where she improved upon her conference leading 12.8 rebounds per game by pulling down 21 on Saturday. She improved her GNAC record to 52 games recording a double-double.

"I couldn't believe it - (Clan coach) Bruce (Langford) came up to me and said, 'You did a pretty good job on Nayo,'" Dolfo said. "I was like, 'Really?' She is so big and so active on the boards, she's tough to stop. She just killed us on the boards."

Despite the big night from the Clan's standout senior forward, WWU only lost the rebounding battle 33-32.

The Vikings also won the battle in the paint 34-26.

"I think we played together as a team inside," Harris said. "Sarah and Trishi and Kayla, we all worked together and battled, and it worked out well for us."