Late Comeback Falls Short in Women's Hoops 80-62 Loss at SPU

Feb. 10, 2018

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SEATTLE, Wash. - Western Washington University redshirt freshman guard Gracie Castaneda scored a career-high 21 points and made five 3-pointers, but the Vikings late comeback fell short in an 80-62 defeat Saturday evening in Great Northwest Athletic Conference action in Brougham Pavilion.

WWU pulled to within 5 points early in the 4th quarter at 60-55, but SPU finished with a 20-7 run over the final seven minutes of the game to record the 18-point victory.

The Vikings had their four-game winning streak snapped to fall to 11-13 overall and moved into a tie for 6th place in the GNAC with Concordia with a 7-9 league record. Seattle Pacific improved to 12-4 overall and clinched a spot in the GNAC Championships with a 12-4 league mark. The Falcons improved to 8-1 on their home court this season and swept the Vikings for just the second time in the last 10 seasons.

Castaneda (Arlington, WA) recorded her career-high in points by shooting 7-for-9 from the field and was 5-for-6 from 3-point range. Also scoring in double-digits for the Vikings were senior forward Hannah Stipanovich (St. Louis, MO/MSU Denver) and freshman forward Kelsey Rogers (Bothell, WA/Lynnwood). Stipanovich added a game-high-tying 8 rebounds.

Overall WWU shot 45.7% from the field (21-for-46) and were 9-for-20 from 3-point range (45.0%). The Vikings were out-rebounded 36-26 and made 16 turnovers in the game to lead to 17 SPU points.

Seattle Pacific had three players reach double-figures in scoring, led by 24 points from Jordan McPhee on 8-for-11 shooting. Courtney Hollander added 17 points on 7-for-15 shooting and Riley Evans had 12 points while making three 3-pointers. SPU shot 46.7% from the floor in the game (28-for-60), but heated up for a 61.5% clip in the second half (16-for-26). The Falcons made 7 of their 11 3-pointers in the second half, going 7-for-11 (62.6%) from beyond the arc over the final 20 minutes of the game.

The Vikings trailed 17-10 after the first quarter, with SPU using an 11-0 run to build its lead. Freshman guard Emma Duff (Tumwater, WA/Black Hills) hit an early 3-pointer to pull the game to a one-point margin at 6-5, but the Falcons then ran off 11 consecutive points over a 5-minute stretch to take a 17-5 lead. WWU scored the final 5 points of the quarter to cut the deficit to 7 points.

Western's defense limited SPU to 5-for-16 shooting in the 2nd quarter, and took the lead in the quarter before trailing 32-25 at the half. WWU cut the deficit to 3 points at 19-16 early in the quarter on back-to-back 3-pointers by Castaneda, part of an 11-2 run. A 5-0 SPU spurt grew the lead back to 8 points, but the Vikings went on a 9-0 run over a 2:39 stretch to pull ahead 25-24 on a Stipanovich layup with 3:20 remaining in the quarter. The Falcons responded with an 8-0 run to head into the half with a 7-point lead at 32-25. Hollander's 3-pointer at the 2:19 mark pulled SPU ahead and Lindsay Lee's 3-pointer with 5-seconds left in the half completed the run.

SPU opened the second half on a 14-6 run, building its lead to 15 points at 43-28. The Vikings wouldn't wilt though, going on a 9-3 run to cut the deficit to single-digits at 9 points 46-37. The Falcons ended the quarter with a 12-point lead at 56-44, shooting 7-for-12 in the period (58.3%).

The Vikings closed the gap to a 5-point margin at 60-55 with 7:25 remaining in the game, but SPU caught fire from beyond the arc to pull away over the final 7 minutes of the game. The Falcons closed out the game going on a 20-7 run, making 7 of 10 shots during the stretch with four 3-pointers.

The Vikings will play three of their four remaining regular-season games in Bellingham inside Carver Gym, beginning with key conference games against Central Washington on Thursday (5:15 pm) and Northwest Nazarene on Saturday (7 pm). Both games will be part of WWU basketball doubleheaders, with the men's team hosting Alaska Anchorage on Thursday at 7:30 pm and Alaska Fairbanks on Saturday at 3 pm. Saturday's game vs. NNU will be the annual PINK Night game to raise awareness for cancer research. Tickets for all WWU home games are available to purchase in person at the WWU Box Office at the Performing Arts Center and online via WWUVikings.com/Tickets.

Game Notes: Vikings are 7-9 (tie for 6th) in GNAC play with four conference games left...the top six teams in regular-season standings qualify for GNAC Championships...WWU had its season-high 4-game winning streak snapped...WWU is 3-8 on the road this season, including a 2-7 GNAC road record...Hannah Stipanovich is averaging 7.33 rebounds per game over her last 9 games...the 21 points by Gracie Castaneda marked the sixth 20-point game by a WWU player this season and fell one point short of matching the season-high 22 points by Stipanovich at Alaska Anchorage...Kelsey Rogers scored in double-digits for the fifth time this season (second time in last 3 games)...WWU was 11-for-14 from the free throw line and is now at 73.5% for the season (currently 6th in WWU single-season history).

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