No.8 Vikings win seventh straight, edge MSU Billings 78-76

WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM Corinn Waltrip
WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM
Corinn Waltrip
WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM

Jan. 19, 2013

Box Score

BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Guard Corinn Waltrip (Sr., Tigard, OR) scored a game and career-high 24 points as nationally ranked Western Washington University held off a late Montana State University Billings rally and claimed a 78-76 victory in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference women's basketball contest Saturday at Sam Carver Gymnasium on the WWU campus.

The Vikings, rated No.8 in this week's USA Today Sports/ESPN NCAA Division II Top 25 Poll, improved to 13-2 overall and remained atop the GNAC at 7-0 after their seventh consecutive victory.

MSUB fell to 11-5 overall and 5-3 in conference play. Guard Bobbi Knudsen led the Yellowjackets with 21 points and center Kayleen Goggins added 20.

A Waltrip 3-pointer gave WWU a 74-65 lead with 4:20 remaining, before MSUB fought back, pulling to within two, 74-72, on a basket by Knudsen with 1:53 remaining.

Waltrip then hit four free throws in the final 1:15 to put the game out of reach, the Yellowjackets only closing the gap to two on a layup at the buzzer by Janiel Olson, who had 13 points and 12 rebounds.

It was the second time in the half the Vikings narrowly maintained the lead after an MSUB rally. WWU had been ahead 64-53, its biggest advantage of the game, with 11:20 left before the Yellowjackets ran off 10 straight points, eight of them by Goggins, to narrow the margin to one, 64-63, with 7:43 to go.

Waltrip was 7-of-14 from the field, including 6-of-11 on 3-pointers, and was also 4-of-5 on free throws.

Forward Trishi Williams (Sr., Mabton) had 11 points for WWU, and forward Sarah Hill (Jr., Richmond, VA/Lloyd C. Bird) added 10 on 5-of-7 field-goal shooting. The Vikings had a 40-35 advantage in rebounds, with Sydney Donaldson (So., Edmonds/Edmonds-Woodway) grabbing a game-high 13.

Western trailed only once, 12-11, seven minutes into the game, and held a 44-41 lead at halftime.

The Vikings are 9-0 at home this season and have won 13 straight at Carver Gym over the last two campaigns.

WWU next is on the road for two GNAC contests, traveling to Central Washington on Thursday, Jan. 24 (7 p.m.) and Northwest Nazarene on Saturday, Jan. 26 (7 p.m.).

Viking women win up and down game

by Dave Rasbach, Bellingham Herald Sports Editor

The Great Northwest Athletic Conference schedule maker certainly made things difficult on the Western Washington University women's basketball team the past eight days.

But then again, the Vikings haven't been making things very easy on themselves, either.

Though Western didn't get off to the sluggish first-half start that caused them trouble during the first two outings in a three-game homestand Saturday, July 19, against Montana State Billings, the Vikings still suffered through numerous peaks and valleys.

The good news was they still played well enough to get the same result they did in the first two games. Corinn Waltrip scored a game-high 24 points and Sydney Donaldson had a nice game off the bench with eight points and 13 rebounds to help WWU hold on for a 78-76 victory over the scrappy Yellowjackets.

The win capped off a home-stand sweep for Western (13-2, 7-0 GNAC), as the Vikings beat all three of their closest GNAC pursuers in eight days.

"I think it shows that we're a team that when we're on top of our game can play with anyone," Waltrip said. "What we still have to work on is our consistency. We need to play an entire game like we're capable of."

After slouching out of the gates against Simon Fraser and Seattle Pacific, when they went a combined 17 for 52 (32.7 percent) from the floor in the first half, the Vikings certainly looked ready to go on Saturday.

WWU connected on 18 of its of its 35 first-half shot attempts Saturday - a sparkling 51.4 percent. The result was 44 first-half points - just one fewer than their combined total against Simon Fraser and Seattle Pacific.

And WWU only turned the ball over five times in the half.

"We did a good job coming out ready to play tonight, and that was good to see," Western coach Carmen Dolfo said. "But we weren't getting the consistency we were looking for. ... It's frustrating because it's something we've really focused on. We knew consistency was going to be a problem for this team after last year. We're not just talking consistency from game to game - we're talking consistency over five minutes."

And by the end of Saturday's game, Dolfo and the rest of the Western bench must have felt like it was in a life raft in the middle of the ocean.

Every time they would surge ahead, the Yellowjackets would come back.

Now, some of the credit for that has to go to MSUB (11-5, 5-3), which entered the game with the conference's second-leading scorer in Bobbi Knudsen (18.2 points and a conference-high 6.7 assists per game).

"I thought Corinn eventually did a very good job containing her when we put her on her," Dolfo said. "She's really tough to stop. She can hit the three, she can drive, she can pull up and she's really good at passing. The minute you start to help, she'll kick it to somebody else, and they have some other very good players."

Western did a good job of keeping her from dishing, holding her to two assists, but she still scored 21 points to go with 20 from Kayleen Goggins.

"The thing I think happened is we let things bother us that we shouldn't have," Dolfo said. "We would lose focus when we didn't get a call or we missed a switch on defense of something, and we'd let that bother us, and they next thing you know, they're right back in it."

That trend started early, as MSUB erased a quick 8-0 Western lead out of the gate and stayed within seven points of the Vikings the rest of the first half.

Western went to the locker room up 44-41, but seemed to finally build a little breathing room with an 11-1 run that started when Waltrip fed Brit Harris for a short jumper with 14:21 to play. Waltrip followed with one of her six 3-pointers, before Trishi Williams hit back-to-back lay-ups and Sarah Hill capped off the run with a bucket off one of Jenni White's game-high seven assists to make it 64-53.

But the Western offense went silent the next four minutes, allowing the Yellowjackets to inch back in with a 10-0 run to make it 64-63 with 7:40 to play.

Another quick WWU burst stretched the lead to 74-65, but MSUB again scored seven straight to draw within two points, 74-72 with 1:41 to play.

"They're a very good team that is capable of scoring, but I think we also lost our focus," Waltrip said. "We just didn't play consistent basketball tonight."

But Waltrip was consistent from the free throw line when it mattered most, hitting four straight to give the Vikings a 78-72 lead in the final minute.

Williams (11 points) and Hill (10) joined Waltrip in double figures, while Williams had five assists and Waltrip four. Hill also had seven rebounds.

"I saw some really good things tonight," Dolfo said. "I thought Jenni came in and made some beautiful passes. Syd had another big game for us. Corinn shot with a lot of confidence tonight. We played very well at times, but we just didn't do it consistently. That's something we're going to need to do when we go on the road."

That time comes now, as Western will close out the first half of the GNAC season with trips to Central Washington on Thursday, Jan. 24, and Northwest Nazarene on Saturday, Jan. 26. In fact, seven of the Vikings' final 11 regular-season games will be away from Sam Carver Gymnasium.