2004-05 REVIEW: No building year required for Western
April 25, 2005
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - As has been its trademark, the Western Washington University women's basketball team found a way to get things done in the 2004-05 season.
The Vikings had their struggles, but their record didn't reflect it, as they posted a sparkling 24-5 record and were ranked 19th in the final USA Today/ESPN NCAA Division II Top 25. Western was second in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference at 15-3, and reached the NCAA II National Tournament for the seventh consecutive year, getting to the regional semifinals.
Despite ranking 33rd nationally in scoring at 73.6 points a game, Western went through a midseason offensive slump in which it fell short of 60 points five times in a span of 10 games, something that hadn't occurred in more than two games in any season since 1998-99. But it was a reflection of the determination shown throughout the season that they won four of those five contests, and overall in that stretch were 8-2, giving up just 57.3 points a game.
Leading the way for the Vikings was junior forward Tina Donahue (Stanwood), who was named an honorable mention Kodak/WBCA All-American. Donahue averaged a team-high 14.1 points a game, ranking 13th nationally in free throw percentage, hitting 86.7 percent (124-of-143) and twice making 21 straight attempts, and also contributing 6.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists. She was also a first-team WBCA and second-team Daktronics, Inc. all-West Region selection and a second-team all-GNAC pick.
Guard Jodi Gerald (Puyallup/Cascade Christian), the lone senior on the squad, averaged 13.0 points, a team-high 8.1 rebounds, and 2.4 assists, earning first-team GNAC honors. She was also the top 3-point shooting threat, hitting 51-of-139 (36.7 percent), tying a school record for three pointers in a game without a miss by going 6-of-6 at Central Washington, and for consecutive successful trey attempts overall with nine. Gerald averaged just 8.7 points through the first 12 games, but 16.1 over the last 17, and she also grabbed an average of 9.9 rebounds in the last 10 contests.
Western's other double-figure scorer was junior center Courtney Clapp (Kirkland/Juanita), a transfer from Santa Rosa CC, who averaged 12.6 points and 4.7 rebounds while shooting 48.4 percent (138-of-285) from the field and 75.7 percent (87-of-115) on free throws. Clapp earned all-tournament recognition at regionals, posting season-highs of 32 points and 12 rebounds and hitting her only two 3-pointers of the year in an 82-74 overtime victory over Cal State Dominguez Hills in the opening round, then having 23 points in the season-ending loss to Chico State in the regional semifinals.
Completing the starting lineup were junior guard Samantha Hubbard (Carbonado/White River) and sophomore forward Krystal Robinson (Kent/Kentridge). Hubbard averaged 4.4 points and team-bests of 3.9 assists and 1.8 steals. Robinson wasn't cleared to practice after recovering from a knee injury until two days before the start of the regular season, and didn't move into the starting lineup until midway through the campaign. Even so, she averaged 6.7 points and 3.3 rebounds, and ranked 14th nationally in blocked shots at 2.5 a game, blocking seven on three occasions and having a streak of 21 games with at least one swat.
Off the bench, sophomore guard Devin Dykstra (Sumas/Nooksack Valley) was the top scoring threat, averaging 7.4 points a game, hitting 45.7 percent on 3-pointers (21-of-46) and 83.0 percent on free throws (88-of-106).
In the front court, junior Stephanie Dressel (Gig Harbor) and sophomore Arielle White (Kent/Spanaway Lake) provided depth in the posts. White, who started 10 games, averaged 3.4 points and 3.1 rebounds. Dressel, who started the first four games of the year, averaged 2.5 points and 2.1 rebounds.
Another key contributor off the bench was freshman forward Liz McCarrell (Ferndale). McCarrell averaged 4.7 points and shot a team-best 52.2 percent (48-of-92) from the field.
Completing the roster were three more freshmen. Guard Angela Burt (Bellingham) played in all but one game, averaging 2.6 points and 1.0 assists. Guard Elyse Hartman (Eagle River, AK/Chugiak) and center Gretchen Gottfried (Salem, OR/Selfridge) each averaged 1.7 points, Hartman playing 27 games and Gottfried 21.
Western ranked sixth nationally in rebound margin (9.4), was 22nd in free throw percentage (75.1) and 24th in scoring margin (11.8). The Vikings never lost back-to-back games, and after a season-opening 88-78 overtime loss at Montana State-Billings, ran off 15 consecutive victories, the longest winning streak in 21 years and matching the second longest in school history.
Western was also 12-1 at home, with the lone loss coming against GNAC champion Seattle Pacific, which eventually reached the NCAA II championship game. Western coach Carmen Dolfo (14 years, 302-111), who returned to the sidelines after taking a sabbatical the previous season, earned her 300th career victory with a 90-63 triumph at Central Washington on Feb. 24.
The Vikings have never missed the post-season as an NCAA member, and played in national competition for a school-record eighth consecutive time, having reached the NAIA Division I National Tournament in 1998.
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