March 16, 2013
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Tourney host Western Washington University broke open a tight game with a surge early in the second half and went on to claim a 70-50 triumph over Academy of Art University in game four of Saturday's opening round of the West Regional of the 2013 NCAA Division II Women's Basketball National Tournament at Sam Carver Gymnasium.
The Vikings, the No.1 seed in the West Region and ranked No.5 nationally in NCAA Division II, improved to 26-3 with its ninth straight victory and face Cal State Monterrey Bay in a regional semifinal Monday (5 p.m.).
Center Britt Harris (Sr., Marysville/Marysville-Pilchuck), the Daktronics West Region Player of the Year, had a game-high 15 points and 10 rebounds for WWU, which had all five starters score in double figures.
Academy of Art, the No.8 seed, had a nine-game winning streak snapped and concluded its season 23-9. Jordan Rogers had 11 points for the Urban Knights and Regina Camera added 10.
WWU, which trailed, 27-24, at halftime, opened second half by hitting five of their first six shots and holding the Urban Knights scoreless for nearly four minutes, enabling the Vikings to run off 12 straight points and take a 36-27 lead.
AAU rallied and was still down by just one, 39-38, with 14 minutes left, but WWU then broke the game open, going on a 21-4 charge over a 6:30 span to take a 60-42 lead with 6:12 to play.
"We got into a helter-skelter game in first half," said WWU coach Carmen Dolfo. "In the second half we calmed down and we played together. We turned the ball over less in the second half and we didn't give up second chances."
The first half featured five lead changes and two ties, with WWU holding the biggest advantage at five on two occasions in the first minutes. AAU held a three-point lead at halftime despite shooting just 28.6 percent (10-of-25) from the field.
Guard Corinn Waltrip (Sr., Tigard, OR) had 14 points for the Vikings. Guard Katie Colard (So., McCleary/Elma) had 12 points on four 3-pointers, forward Trishi Williams (Sr., Mabton) added 11 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, and forward Sarah Hill (Jr., Richmond, VA/Lloyd C. Bird) had 10 points, all of them in the second half.
WWU was 8-of-19 (42.1 percent) on 3-pointers, hitting 6-of-8 in the second half.
WESTERN WASHINGTON QUOTES
HEAD COACH Carmen Dolfo (On the game) I think we tried just to be calm. I think we came out with some jitters in the first half, we weren't playing together. We know why we're here is because we were together all year. We just need to calm down and realize we need to play defensively together and offensively together. The defense came out more aggressive and we started moving the ball, and things started going our way.
(On the halftime conversation I the locker room) Well, we couldn't get much worse. They moved the ball. I felt like we calmed down and said, `We have to play our game.
(On defensive adjustments) I think we weren't really talking to each other and we weren't listening to each other. Corinn was trying to make some calls and make some changes in what we were doing. Not sure we were hearing it or echoing or being part of it. We just got rattled. We came out the first five minutes rolling, and their run just rattled us. We couldn't settle ourselves down and listen to each other. We got on our own pages and we were trying to do it alone and we don't work that way very well.
(On playing Cal State Monterey Bay next) They're a really balance team have post players, they have shooters, they have drivers. We played them in the first round at San Diego last year, but they're quite a new team from that. They have a lot of balance, they're fighters and well coached.
Sarah Hill (On the start of the second half) We boxed out and that's what led us on the 12-0 run. We boxed out each time. We were going to do that. That was one of our goals and keys was boxing out. And we finally worked together and got the ball inside.
(On all 5 starters in double figures) It makes our scouting report a lot harder. It's not just us five. It's definitely our bench that makes us a different team. It's proof that even if someone is having an off night, someone has her back. That means a lot as a player.
Corinn Waltrip (On if she was ever comfortable with the lead) In playoffs can't ever get comfortable and complacent always have to keep working hard and always have to play like the score is tied. Carmen reminded us of that -- this week especially, because the last time we hosted, they got comfortable, were up about 20, and ended up losing to Seattle Pacific in the semifinals.
ACADEMY OF ART COACH LaNAY LARSON (On the game) In the first half we played some of the best defense we've played all year. I'm really proud of our effort. We forced 12 turnovers and eight steals, and that's a key for us.
(On the switch in momentum) We talked about runs. They weren't going to shoot the ball like they shot in the first half, and we gave them too many wide-open attempts. That put us in a hole to begin with, and we couldn't match their intensity and we couldn't match the intensity we had in the first half. Against a team like that on their home court, you can't go on like that.
(On their season and first NCAA Tournament) It doesn't take anything from the season we had. We had really lofty goals set at the beginning of season - conference championship and make it to the NCAAs. To accomplish that in our first year of eligibility is a big satep in the program. We ran out of gas tonight, but we definitely have a bright future. We turned the cor4ner really quick. I don't think anyone would have put Academy of Art in the NCAAs at the beginning of the season.
Western beats Academy of Art to advance to West Regional semifinals
By DAVID RASBACH -- THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
BELLINGHAM -- Though Western Washington women's basketball team was hosting the NCAA Division II West Regional for only the second time in the program's history, it marked the 14th time in the past 15 years that Vikings had qualified for the postseason tournament.
Academy of Art, on the other hand, advanced to the regional for the first time in its first year of eligibility.
But for most of the first 20 minutes Saturday, March 16, you would have been hard pressed to tell which team were the seasoned veterans and which were the rookies.
"I think we just tried to be calm, but I think came out with some jitters," WWU coach Carmen Dolfo said. "We weren't playing together. We know why we are here because we played together through the season, and we just weren't doing that in the first half. ... I think we all got on our own pages, and we don't work very well that way."
Once the Vikings did get on the same page in the second half, it was a sight to see.
Western opened the second half on a 12-0 run to erase a three-point halftime deficit then used a 13-0 run midway through the half to pull away to a 70-50 first-round victory.
By the time all the dust had settled, all five Western starters had scored in double figures, led by double-doubles from Britt Harris (15 points, 10 rebounds) and Trishi Williams (11 points, 11 rebounds).
"I think that (five starters in double figures) makes our scouting report a whole lot harder," said Sarah Hill, who recorded all 10 of her points in the second half and finished with seven rebounds. "And it's not just us five. It's definitely our bench that makes us a different team. It just proves that even if somebody is having an off night, somebody else will step up and have your back."
That challenge of finding a way to stop the Vikings next falls on Cal State Monterey, which beat Chico State 66-54 earlier Saturday, in a 5 p.m. regional semifinal on Monday, March 18, at Sam Carver Gymnasium.
The game will precede the WWU men's 7:30 p.m. regional semifinal against Cal State Bakersfield.
The other women's semifinal will feature Grand Canyon University against Simon Fraser at noon on Monday.
Though the Vikings (26-3) came out hot the first five minutes on Saturday, the rest of their first half was anything but artistic. They struggled to find any rhythm against the scrappy Urban Nights (23-9), who did an outstanding job of changing up defenses almost possession to possession to keep the Vikings off balance and unable to find the shots they were seeking.
"I think we're really talking to each other, or we weren't really listening to each other," Dolfo said. "I think Corinn (Waltrip) was trying to make some changes and trying to make some calls on what they were doing, and I'm not sure we were hearing it or echoing it or really being a part of it."
The result was a 10-for-28 shooting performance (35.7 percent) from the floor for Western, including a 2-for-11 showing from 3-point range.
Shooting wasn't the Vikings' only problem, though, as they turned the ball over 13 times in the first 20 minutes, leading to 14 points for Academy of Art.
The Urban Knights, weren't particularly effective shooting the ball early, either, hitting 10 of 35 (28.6 percent), but they did manage to corral nine offensive boards to score 10 second-chance points.
The result was Western faced a 27-24 deficit at halftime.
"We definitely didn't play our game in the first half," Harris said. "That wasn't how we expected to play."
But as out of sync as the Vikings looked in the first half, they came out in the second half in seemingly perfect harmony.
It started on their opening possession, when Waltrip found Katie Colard for an open 3-pointer to tie the game at 27.
A defensive stop at the other end led to a fast-break layup by Harris off an assist from Williams. Next possession saw Waltrip start the fast break with a rebound and a long pass to Williams.
"I felt we came out and boxed out, and that's what led us on that 12-0 run," Hill said. "We focused on boxing out each time. That was one of our goals was boxing out, and another one was using our bigs. I felt in the second half we worked together and got the ball inside."
And with them doing that, that opened up the outside, as Hill was able to hit a 3 with 17:16 to play, before Colard fed Waltrip for a layup and a 36-27 Vikings lead only 3:22 into the half.
"I think in the playoffs you can't ever get comfortable or complacent," Waltrip said. "You always have to keep working hard and play like the score is tied or you're down. ... Carm's reminded us, this week especially, last time Western hosted, they got comfortable. They were up by 20, and they ended up losing to Seattle Pacific in the semifinals. We know that we can't get comfortable."
Almost on cue, Academy of Art proved that point, whittling the Vikings' lead down to one with an 11-3 run of their own.
Western held off the charge, and Hill eventually scored on back-to-back possessions, including a 3-point play, to ignite a 13-0 Western run over a 2-minute, 43-second span midway through the half, allowing the Vikings to build a more "comfortable" 57-41 advantage with 9:20 to play.
Colard finished with 12 points, as she went 4 for 7 from 3-point range, while Waltrip tallied 14. Williams led the team with six assists and three steals, while Harris had three blocked shots.
With Saturday's win behind them, the Vikings now turn their attention toward advancing past the regional semifinals for the first time since 2000, when they advanced to the national semifinals.
But they know that task won't be easy against the Otters, and they can't afford another first half like they suffered through Saturday.
"We got to see them play Chico State," Dolfo said. "They're a really balanced team. They've got posts. They've got shooters. They've got drivers. We played them the first round down at San Diego last year (in the West Region, a game WWU won 65-58). They're new a different team from that. I think they've got a lot of balance. They're fighters and well coached. We're going to have turn around right now and get ready for Monterrey Bay. We've got a lot of work to do to get ourselves ready, but we're excited to play them."
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