WWU plays Simon Fraser for GNAC championship Saturday

WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM Katie Colard
WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM
Katie Colard
WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM

March 8, 2014

LACEY, Wash. - Having reached the title game every year since the tournament began, Western Washington University meets Simon Fraser University for the championship of the fourth annual Great Northwest Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Tournament on Saturday (7:30 p.m.) at Marcus Pavilion of host Saint Martin's University

The GNAC tournament champion earns an automatic berth at the NCAA Division II West Regional on March 14-15, 17, at a site to be determined.

The contest can be heard on KBAI Radio (930 AM - kbai930.com) with Doug Lange handling the play-by-play. A video stream and live stats are also available at wwuvikings.com.

WWU, the No.2 seed, is the defending champion, defeating Simon Fraser, 60-40 last year. The Vikings lost to Alaska Anchorage in each of the first two tourneys, 68-67 in 2011 and 67-52 in 2012.

WWU, 18-9 overall, reached the final with an 81-71 win over Saint Martin's on Friday after receiving a first-round bye.

Simon Fraser, the No.4 seed, beat No.5 Seattle Pacific, 87-79, in the opening round Wednesday, and upset No.1 seed Montana State Billings, 85-74, in Friday's other semifinal.

The Vikings earned a first-round bye with a 72-63 win over Simon Fraser on March 1. They lost to the Clan, 62-58, on Dec. 7 at Burnaby, B.C.

WWU has won 15 of its last 19 games following a 3-5 start. The Vikings, victorious in seven of their last eight contests, have won nine of 11 meetings with Simon Fraser since it joined the NCAA II ranks.

Besides taking the GNAC tourney title last year, WWU also won the GNAC regular-season and West Regional championships and reached the national semifinals.

WWU finished 9-2 at Carver Gym this season, having a 26-game home court victory string, tied for the second longest in school history, snapped on Jan. 30 by Montana State Billings.

WWU leads the GNAC in field-goal percentage at 46.3, 3-point percentage at 36.7 and blocked shots per game at 5.0. The blocked shots figure ranks 11th nationally in NCAA Division II and the field-goal percentage is 13th.

WWU ranked No.9 in the third NCAA II West Region rating released Wednesday. Montana State Billings was No.1, followed by Cal Poly Pomona No.2, Simon Fraser No.3, Chico State No.4, Alaska Anchorage No.5, Seattle Pacific No.6, Cal State Dominguez Hills No.7, UC San Diego No.8 and Academy of Art No.10.

COLARD 14TH NATIONALLY IN 3-POINTERS: Junior point guard Katie Colard, a first-team GNAC all-star, ranks 14th nationally and tops the GNAC in 3-point makes per game at 2.9. She is scoring at a team-leading 14.2 clip on 40.5 percent (77-of-190) 3-point accuracy.

Colard, who scored a game-high 23 points in the semifinal win over Saint Martin's, tied a school record with eight treys and had a career-high 26 points at Northwest Nazarene on Feb. 6. She hit six threes against NNU at Carver Gym on Jan. 11, and has made five treys in two other games this season.

Colard leads the team in double-figure scoring games with 20 and is second in assists at 2.4 and in free-throw shooting at 82.9 percent (63-of-76), She has made a 3-pointer in every game this season and is working on a 32-game streak overall.

HILL DOUBLE-DOUBLES: Senior center Sarah Hill, a second-team GNAC all-star, has had four double-doubles in the last six games and six overall this season. She also has been within one point or one rebound of a double-double on five other occasions.

Hill is averaging 10.2 points and leads the team in rebounds at 9.0 per game and in blocked shots with 50. She grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds against Simon Fraser on March 1.

Hill had a career-best 18 points and 16 rebounds at Western Oregon on Jan. 16 when she earned GNAC Player of the Week honors for Jan. 12-18.

DONALDSON ENJOYING GREAT SECOND HALF: Over the last 16 games, junior forward Sydney Donaldson has averaged 12.4 points on 56.6 percent (82-of-145) floor accuracy and 7.8 rebounds. In the first 11 games this season, she averaged 5.0 points on 30.1 percent (22-of-73) shooting and 4.5 rebounds. Overall, Donaldson is averaging 9.4 points and is second on the team in rebounds at 6.4 and blocks with 41.

Donaldson, who was the GNAC Player of the Week for Jan. 5-11, scored a career-high 22 points versus Alaska Fairbanks on Jan. 25 and grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds against Northwest Nazarene on Jan. 11. She has had three double-doubles this season.

WHITE MAKES THE POINT: Junior point guard Jenni White, who received GNAC all-star honorable mention, is averaging 10.4 points. She paces the Vikings in assists (4.7, 128) and steals (2.1, 56), and is second in 3-point accuracy at 38.8 percent (31-of-80).

White has scored double-figures 17 times this season.

T-N-T STANDOUT FROSH: Two freshmen, forward Tia Briggs and guard Taylor Peacocke, have made major contributions this season for WWU.

Peacocke is averaging 10.9 points, hitting 84.1 percent 74-of-88) of her free throws. She has had 17 double-figure point performances.

Briggs is averaging 9.7 points on team-leading 53.7 percent (108-of-201) floor accuracy. She has scored double figures in eight of the last 12 games and 15 times overall this season.

DOLFO COUNTING DOWN TO 500: WWU head coach Carmen Dolfo, who has a 493-182 record (73.0 percent) in 23 years directing the Vikings, needs just eight more wins to become the first four-year collegiate coach in the state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest (Idaho, Oregon and Washington) to record 500 victories at an institution or universities in those states.

Dolfo Milestone Victories:

No.100 12/01/95, 80-57 vs. Whitworth, Carver Gym
No.200 02/03/00, 76-59 vs. Alaska Anchorage, Carver Gym
No.300 02/24/05, 93-60 at Central Washington, Ellensburg
No.400 11/20/10, 58-24 vs. San Francisco State, Seattle
No.500

WWU AT GNAC TOURNAMENT:

2011
Defeated Montana State Billings, 76-49
Lost to Alaska Anchorage, 68-67
2012
Defeated Northwest Nazarene, 66-54
Lost to Alaska Anchorage, 67-52
2013
Defeated Northwest Nazarene, 60-49
Defeated Simon Fraser, 60-40
2014
Defeated Saint Martin's, 81-71

SIMON FRASER: The Clan, 19-8 overall, has won 11 of its last 14 games. It tied for third in the conference standings at 12-6. Three returning starters for coach Bruce Langford (12th year, 324-78) from last year's 25-6 team are GNAC first-team all-star 6-1 junior forward Erin Chambers (22.4 ppg-ranks 8th nat., 4.4 rpg), 5-6 junior guard Katie Lowen (11.2 ppg) and 6-2 senior forward Chelsea Reist (7.0 ppg). Three other talented returnees are 5-6 senior guard Marie-Line Petit (7.8 ppg), 6-1 sophomore forward Meg Wilson (7.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 66.1 FG Pct.) and 6-5 senior forward Rebecca Langmead (7.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg). SFU is eighth nationally in 3-point percentage defense at 25.1. WWU holds a 42-33 series advantage, winning nine of the last 11 meetings. The Vikings split the two regular-season meetings, losing 62-58 at Burnaby, B.C., on Dec. 7, and winning 72-63 at Bellingham on March 1.

BORDER BATTLE: WWU has won nine of 11 meetings with Simon Fraser since the Clan joined the NCAA II ranks following a 62-58 loss at Burnaby, B.C., on Dec. 7. The two schools had not met the previous 11 seasons after the Vikings posted a slight advantage, 33-30, in the first 27 years of the series which began in 1971-72. During that stretch, SFU had an 8-7 edge over WWU in regional/district/conference championships

UPCOMING GAMES:

GNAC Tournament - Marcus Pavilion - Lacey, WA(host Saint Martin's University)

Wednesday, March 5 Game 1 #3 Alaska Anchorage (19-8) 48 vs. #6 Saint Martin's 58 Game 2 #4 Simon Fraser 87 vs. #5 Seattle Pacific (18-9) 79

Friday, March 7 Game 3 #2 Western Washington 81 vs. Saint Martin's (18-11) 71 Game 4 #1 Montana State Billings (23-7) 74 vs. Simon Fraser 85

Saturday, March 8 Game 5 Western Washington (18-9) vs. Simon Fraser (19-8) - 7:30 p.m.#

NCAA Division II West Regional - (Site to be determined), March 14-15, 17

*Great Northwest Athletic Conference contest #broadcast on KBAI Radio (930 AM) and on internet at wwuvikings.com %broadcast on KPUG Radio (1170 AM) and on internet at wwuvikings.com

FAMILY TIES: Two members of this year's team have fathers who played men's basketball at WWU. They are Tia Briggs (Ed - WWU's career leader in blocked shots with 183) and Kiana Gandy (Joe). Sarah Hill's sister, Celeste, was an All-America hoop player for the Vikings, being inducted into the WWU Athletic Hall of Fame last year, and Katie Colard, had a sister, Kelly, who played basketball at WWU, and a brother, Kevin, who competed in football for the Vikings.

THREE-DOT NOTES: Forward Marcel Pounds, who made her fifth start of the campaign against Simon Fraser on March 1, has made 7-of-8 field goals over the last four games ... Earlier this season, the Vikings had a 26-game home court winning streak snapped with a pair of losses at Carver Gym. The string was the second longest in school history and just three shy of the WWU record ... Hill has 565 points and 558 rebounds during her three-year career. Colard has 804 points and Donaldson 622 points and 414 rebounds ... Donaldson and Hill were both named to the GNAC preseason all-conference team ... Two of WWU's losses have been in overtime and six have been by less than 10 points ... WWU won its own Goodrich Classic title for the 15th time in the 17-year history of the tourney with wins over Pacific Lutheran, 84-46, and Northwest, 83-44. That ran its Goodrich Classic victory string to 12, with wins in 31 of 34 games overall. Three WWU players were all-tournament picks. Briggs was named Most Valuable Player, and was joined by Hill and White.

VIKINGS THIRD IN GNAC COACHES POLL: WWU received three of 10 first-place votes and was picked to place third in the GNAC coaches' preseason poll. The Vikings previously won GNAC championships in 2002, 2006, 2011 (regular season) and 2013 (regular season and tournament). Montana State Billings was No.1 with six first-place votes and Seattle Pacific second with one first-place vote.

HOME COURT DOMINANCE: The Vikings are 447-74 (85.8 percent) in 42 seasons at Carver Gym. Their longest home court win streak was 29 from 1983 to 1986.

COACH DOLFO: Carmen Dolfo, who was the CaptainU Division II National Coach of the Year last season, is in her 23rd year as head coach at WWU. She has a 493-182 (73.0 percent) record and ranks No.9 among active NCAA II coaches in winning percentage and No.12 in victories. Her winning percentage in NCAA II all-time ranks No.21 and her victory total No.26. Dolfo's teams have reached post-season play 21 times and have won 20 or more games 17 times. She was named GNAC Coach of the Year in 2004, 2006, 2011 and 2013; Northwest small college Coach of the Year in 2000 and Pacific Northwest Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in 1995 and 1996. Dolfo has coached 13 All-Americans (includes honorable mention) and 48 conference all-stars during her tenure. She was the top Viking assistant for four seasons (95-28, 77.2) and earned All-America honors as a player at WWU.

TRADITION OF SUCCESS: With 925 victories (317 losses, 74.5 percent) in its 43-year history, WWU is one of just a handful of colleges in all divisions of the NCAA to reach the 900-plateau... The Vikings have made 41 post-season appearances, including one stretch of 28 straight, with two national semifinal and three quarterfinal finishes ... They have made 14 West Regional appearances in their 15 seasons as a NCAA II member, and also have had 31 20-win seasons ... WWU has had 22 winning streaks of 10 or more games with its longest being 21 ... Former WWU coach Lynda Goodrich is a member of the NAIA National Hall of Fame. She coached WWU for 19 seasons, winning more than 400 games (411-127, 76.4 percent). Another Viking NAIA Hall of Famer is forward Jo Metzger (1977-81), who earned first-team All-America honors in 1980 and 1981 ... WWU has had 13 first, second or third-team All-Americans.

A LOOK BACK AT 2012-13: Last year, WWU finished 29-4 and reached the semifinals at the NCAA II National Championships after winning the West Regional title and both the Great Northwest Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament crowns.

COLLEGIATE FIRST: WWU was the first college in the country to boast two 400-win women's basketball coaches. Lynda Goodrich, who retired last May after 26 years as the school's director of athletics, posted 411 victories from 1971 to 1990, and current coach Carmen Dolfo is in her 23rd season with 493.

ON THE WEB: All Viking home games are being video streamed live and are available at www.stretchinternet.com. For up-to-date statistics, box scores of every game, records, stories, etc., see the WWU Athletics web page at www.wwuvikings.com. Up-to-date league standings and statistics can be found on the Great Northwest Athletic Conference web page at www.gnacsports.com

RADIO BROADCASTS: Selected WWU games are being broadcast this season on KBAI Radio (930 AM) or KPUG (1170 AM) with Doug Lange handling the play-by-play and Mark Scholten providing the color commentary. They also can be heard on the internet at www.wwuvikings.com.

ROOT SPORTS: WWU's home game with Simon Fraser on Sat., March 1 was televised live on ROOT Sports (Comcast Channel 30). ROOT Sports is the home of the Seattle Mariners, Seattle Seahawks and Portland Timbers, among numerous other professional and collegiate sports teams in the Pacific Northwest. Its scope covers Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska, and the ROOT SPORTS regional networks combine to reach nine million homes across 18 states.

PROBABLE WESTERN STARTERS & TOP RESERVES:

F Marcel Pounds, 5-8, **Jr.., Bonney Lake, WA/Bonney Lake
F Sydney Donaldson, 6-0, **Jr., Edmonds, WA/Edmonds-Woodway
C Sarah Hill, 6-3, **Sr., Richmond,VA/Lloyd C.Bird/ Maryland-Baltimore County
G Jenni White, 5-5, **Jr., Spokane, WA/East Valley
G Katie Colard, 5-9, **Jr., McCleary, WA/Elma

F Tia Briggs, 6-1, Fr., Tacoma, WA/Wilson F Taylor Peacocke, 5-9, Fr., Kenmore, WA/Inglemoor/Sacramento State F Kiana Gandy,5-10, R-Fr., Des Moines, WA/Mount Rainier F Rachel Albert, 5-10, Fr., Bellingham, WA/Sehome *letters won

MOST RECENT GAME SUMMARIES:

March 1 - WWU 72, Simon Fraser 63 at Bellingham, WA

Hill celebrated Senior Day with 13 points and a career-high 18 rebounds as WWU concluded its regular season with a 72-63 victory over Simon Fraser in a regionally televised GNAC game at Carver Gym. White scored a team-high 14 points for WWU, which improved to 17-9 overall and 13-5 in the GNAC. The Vikings, who have won six of their last seven games, clinched at least a tie for second in the conference standings. SFU fell to 17-8 overall and 12-6 in the GNAC, and will enter the conference tourney as the No.4 seed. The Clan, No.3 in this week's NCAA Division II West Region ranking, was led by the 23 points of Erin Chambers, the GNAC's leading scorer who was 8-of-22 from the field. The score was tied at 62-62 after Chambers fed Rebecca Langmead for a layin with 2:27 left. But Hill got a 3-point play off a putback, then found Donaldson for a layin, putting WWU up by five, 67-62, with 1:22 to go. Chambers then fouled out on a charging call, and the Vikings iced the victory by making 5-of-6 free throws in the final minute. Briggs had 13 points and seven rebounds off the bench for WWU, and Donaldson added 12 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots as the Vikings notched 12 blocks as a team, just three off the school record. Hill, the lone Viking senior, had her fourth double-double in the last five contests, grabbing 10 of her rebounds at the offensive end. WWU hit five of its first six shots to jump to a 10-0 lead a little over three minutes into the game, and held a 16-6 advantage with 11:50 left in the first half, but SFU used a run of 12 straight points to grab an 18-16 lead with 6:56 remaining. The Vikings held a 32-28 advantage at halftime.

March 7 - WWU 81, Saint Martin's 71 at Lacey, Wash. (GNAC semifinal)

Colard scored a game-high 23 points and White added 15 points and tied a career high with nine assists as WWU held off host Saint Martin's for an 81-71 semifinal victory at the GNAC Tournament being held at Marcus Pavilion. Donaldson had 17 points and Peacocke came off the bench with 10 for the defending champion Vikings, the No.2 seed who improved to 18-9. Saint Martin's, the No.6 seed, ended its season at 18-11. Megan Wiedeman had 17 points and a game-high 15 rebounds for the Saints, who also got 17 points from Chelsea Haskey. WWU, which never trailed in the contest, built an 18-point lead, 42-24, with two minutes left in the opening half and led by 15, 44-29, at halftime. But Saint Martin's outscored the Vikings, 17-4, in the first 5:44 of the second half to close the margin to two, 48-46. WWU used an 11-5 run with Colard scoring five points for a 59-51 advantage with 8:19 to go and led by 12, 68-56, with 4:41 remaining. The closest the Saints got after that was five on two occasions, the last at 72-67 with 1:20 left before the Vikings made seven of their last eight free throws. WWU shot 58.1 percent (18-of-31) from the field in the first half, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range. The Vikings made 23-of-30 free throws (76.7 percent) in the game, hitting 19-of-24 in the second half. White had eight of her assists in the first half.