Jan. 23, 2010
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -
JOE SUNNEN - THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
When senior Ashley Fenimore decided to transfer to Western Washington University last year after spending three seasons at rival Central Washington, the Vikings' women's basketball team had a pretty good idea what it was getting.
"She's the type of player who does a lot of stuff behind the scenes," senior Jessica Summers said of Fenimore before the season began. "She'll do something like make a great pass or push the ball up the floor or tip a ball that allows somebody else to make a play. The stats don't always show how much she does."
Sixteen games into the season and Summers' assessment of Fenimore seems to fit the feisty point guard to the letter. After sitting out last season as per Great Northwest Athletic Conference transfer rules, she's made an immediate impact.
Fenimore is one of three Vikings to start every game this season and is tied for the team lead with 3.7 assists per game. Her 23 steals also rank second on the team. Most important, however, is WWU's impressive 14-2 mark this season and perfect 5-0 record in the conference play.
The Vikings host No.18 Seattle Pacific University on Saturday, Jan. 23 at Carver Gym.
"I was on the bench last year and had to sit and watch so it's great to be a part of this now," Fenimore said after Western upset Alaska-Anchorage two weeks ago.
While much of Fenimore's impact doesn't always show up in the box score, one thing the Vikings would like to see more of from her is scoring. She's averaging a solid six points per game, but WWU is a much more dangerous team when she's taking shots.
So much so that the Vikings have started doing things in practice to encourage her to shoot - call it the Fenimore Provision.
"We keep stats now in practice of how many times she shoots," WWU coach Carmen Dolfo said. "She has to shoot eight times and take two lay-ins. The girl can score. She just thinks that everybody else can score so she likes to pass."
Western saw the Fenimore Provision start to pay dividends in its win over then No. 8 Alaska Anchorage. Fenimore more than tripled her scoring average in that game, leading the Vikings with 17 points on 5 for 9 shooting including three 3-pointers.
That WWU cruised to a 78-58 blowout win with the help of Fenimore's efforts shouldn't be a surprise. Dolfo knew she had that in her all along.
"They took Amanda (Dunbar) out by putting two hands on her wherever she went and they doubled Jessica (Summers)," Dolfo said. "That really left Ashley open so it was great to see her really step up and shoot."
Fenimore can thank practice for that. If she doesn't hit her daily quota of jumpers she has some extra running to do.
"Every practice if I don't shoot eight shots, I have to run so that's been a point of emphasis," Fenimore said. "I've run a couple of times. I haven't made it every day."
It's likely WWU could start relying on Fenimore's offense even more in the coming weeks. The Vikings recently lost Summers, their leading scorer, indefinitely because of a partially torn plantar fasciitis in her right foot. That means more of the scoring load will fall to everyone else.
As WWU learned in its win over UAA, Fenimore is more than capable of picking up some of that burden.
"We knew going in they were going to try and shut down Jessica and Amanda," Fenimore said after that game. "It was just my turn to step up."