LACEY, Wash. - The Western Washington University women's basketball team utilized a balanced offense with four players in double-figure scoring and never trailed on Thursday en route to earning its fourth consecutive win with a 79-51 victory against Saint Martin's University at Marcus Pavilion in Great Northwest Athletic Conference action.
The Vikings (11-12, 7-8 GNAC) moved into sole possession of 6th in the conference standings following Thursday night's GNAC games as WWU looks to claim one of the six spots in the GNAC Championships tournament. There are five conference games remaining on the regular-season schedule for WWU. The Saints dropped to 6-17 overall and 2-13 in GNAC play with the loss, falling to the Vikings for the second time during 2017-18.
WWU led wire-to-wire against the Saints after pulling ahead in the first quarter and led by as many as 30 points in the fourth quarter. After shooting a season-high 58.7% from the field last Saturday in a win over Concordia, the Vikings were 50.0% (28-of-56) against SMU.
Sophomore center Anna Schwecke (Evergreen, CO/Colorado-Colorado Springs) led WWU with 13 points while a trio of players finished with 12 points apiece. Sophomore guard Dani Iwami (Seal Beach, CA/Hawai'i Pacific), redshirt freshman guard Gracie Castaneda (Arlington, WA) and freshman guard Emma Duff (Tumwater, WA/Black Hills) each finished with 12 points. Iwami added a game-high 5 assists as well.
Senior forward Hannah Stipanovich (St. Louis, MO/Metro State) just missed a double-double with 9 points and 9 rebounds while junior guard Bobbi Westendorf (Auburn, WA/Tacoma CC) had 8 points and a career-high 11 rebounds.
The Vikings jumped to a 9-2 lead at the 7:23 mark in the first quarter, fueled by 8 points from Castaneda. Castaneda scored 5 points in the first 35 seconds of the game with a layup and 3-pointer to jumpstart a quarter during which the Vikings went 9-of-13 (69.2%) from the field.
The Saints responded from the early offense by WWU to tie the game at 9-9, but were unable to take the lead. WWU answered with a 12-0 spurt, concluded with 4 consecutive points from Westendorf, to lead 21-9 with 2:12 left in the quarter en route to a 28-16 lead at the end of the period.
The Vikings continued to build their lead in the second quarter, using a 10-2 run to open the period and lead 38-18 with 5:01 left. SMU held the Vikings to 4 points over the final 5 minutes of the quarter, but the Vikings still took a 42-26 advantage into halftime.
Schwecke and Iwami led WWU with 9 points apiece before halftime, while Castaneda had 8 points. WWU was led by Castaneda's 8 points and Schwecke's 7 points in the first quarter while Iwami helped guide WWU with 6 second-quarter points.
WWU never led by fewer than 14 points after the half on its way to the commanding victory. Duff and Stipanovich scored all of their points after halftime, with Duff going 5-of-7 from the field.
In finishing 28-of-56 (50.0%) from the floor, WWU went 10-of-20 (50.0%) from long range. Iwami was 4-of-6 from 3-point range while Castaneda, Duff and junior guard Amanda Lance (Buckley, WA/White River) each hit a pair of 3-pointers. The Vikings made 13-of-16 (81.3%) at the free throw line, led by Schwecke (5-of-6).
SMU went 19-of-55 (34.5%) from the field, marking the fifth consecutive game during which the WWU defense has held its opponent to under 35% from the floor. The Saints were 5-of-14 (35.7%) from 3-point range and were 8-of-13 (61.5%) at the free throw line.
Guard Saniah Simpson-Patu had 13 points and 5 rebounds to lead SMU while guard/forward Mercedes Victor added 12 points and 4 rebounds.
WWU returns to action on at Seattle Pacific (17-5, 11-4 GNAC) on Saturday evening (7 pm) in Brougham Pavilion. The game will stream live online via WWUVikings.com/Live.
Game Notes: Vikings are 7-8 (6th) in GNAC play with five conference games left...top six teams in regular-season standings qualify for GNAC Championships...WWU have a season-high win streak of 4 games with Thursday's victory...Vikings improved to 4-1 when shooting 50.0% or better from the field...improved to 7-0 when four or more Vikings finish in double-figure scoring...improved to 7-1 when scoring 70+ points...SMU was 34.5% from the field on Thursday as the WWU defense has held its opponent to under 35.0% in each of the last five games...WWU was 10-of-20 (50.0%) 3-point range, tied for the 2nd-most 3-pointers in a game and tied for 2nd-best 3-point percentage in a game by WWU...Bobbi Westendorf had a career-high 11 rebounds...Thursday's win was the 1,004th in program history.
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