WWU opens 2013-14 campaign at West Region Crossover Classic

WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM
WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM

WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM

Nov. 6, 2013

BELLINGHAM, Wash. - The Western Washington University women's basketball team opens its 2013-14 season this weekend at the West Region Crossover Classic being held at Fresno, Calif. The Vikings meet host Fresno Pacific University on Friday and Humboldt State University on Saturday. Both games tip-off at 5:30 p.m.

The Vikings split a pair of exhibition games on their home floor, losing 83-79 in overtime to Fraser Valley BC, ranked fourth nationally in the preseason poll of Canadian major colleges, and defeating Quest BC, 90-58.

With graduation claiming the top three scorers and a key returnee out because of a knee injury, WWU has a much different look from the veteran squad that reached the NCAA Division II national semifinals last season.

The Vikings were 29-4 in 2012-13, claiming both the Great Northwest Athletic Conference regular-season (17-1) and post-season tournament titles. They then won four NCAA II tournament games, claiming the West Regional title, before finally falling to eventual national champion Ashland OH, 66-54.

Just two starters return among six letter winners for the new-look Vikings, who will seek to carry on a tradition of excellence that has seen them reach the post-season for 40 of the program's 42 years and go to the NCAA tournament 14 times in 15 seasons as a DII member.

The two first-stringers back are 6-foot-3 senior center Sarah Hill (Richmond, VA/Lloyd C. Bird) and 5-9 junior guard Katie Colard (McCleary/Elma). Hill, who averaged 6.2 points and pulled down a team-leading 6.2 rebounds per game, will be an important leader as the team's only senior.

Colard averaged 7.6 points, hitting 60 shots and 32.1 percent from 3-point range. She is one of three juniors who saw extensive time in the rotation last year as sophomores. Sydney Donaldson (Edmonds/Edmonds-Woodway), a 6-0 forward, averaged 6.2 points and 4.2 rebounds while shooting 50.3 percent from the field and made six starts. Jenni White (Spokane/East Valley), a 5-5 guard, averaged 3.9 points and 1.7 assists, and averaged 7.5 points in the last four NCAA tournament contests.

Another player in the regular rotation last year, 6-3 junior center Kayla Bernsen (Moses Lake), will miss the season because of a knee injury suffered this summer.

Also returning after lettering last year are 5-9 sophomore Aleisha Hathaway (Spokane/Shadle Park) and 5-8 junior Marcel Pounds (Bonney Lake). Each averaged 1.8 points and 1.0 rebounds last year.

An indication of Western's youth is that the Vikings have six freshmen on the roster. Two of them, 5-10 Kiana Gandy (Des Moines/Mount Rainier) and 5-10 Jasmine McCleave (Renton/Holy Names Academy) redshirted last year. McCleave will not play this season because of a knee injury last spring.

Another redshirt freshman is 5-9 guard Taylor Peacocke (Kenmore/Inglemoor), who received a medical hardship after playing seven games at NCAA Division I Sacramento State. She was a second-team AP Class 4A all-State pick as a high school senior.

The two true freshmen are 5-10 forward Rachel Albert (Bellingham/Sehome) and 6-1 forward Tia Briggs (Tacoma/Wilson).

Albert was a first-team Class 2A all-state pick for the second straight year, Northwest Conference Most Valuable Player and Bellingham Herald Whatcom County Player of the Year as a senior at Bellingham's Sehome High, finishing her prep career with 1,116 points and over 1,000 rebounds.

Briggs was a second-team AP Class 3A all-state pick as a senior, scoring 1,036 career points at Tacoma's Wilson High.

The three WWU starters who completed their eligibility last season were center Britt Harris, a third-team Daktronics All-American and the Daktronics West Region Player of the Year; point guard Corinn Waltrip, a first-team Daktronics West Region and GNAC all-star, and guard Trishi Williams, a second-team GNAC all-star and GNAC Tournament MVP.

The Vikings were unbeaten in 16 home games last season and are working on a string of 20 overall. They make their first appearance at Carver Gym on Nov. 29 against Pacific Lutheran.

West Region Crossover Classic, Fresno, Calif. - host Fresno Pacific

Fri., Nov. 8
WWU vs. Fresno Pacific, 5:30 p.m.
Seattle Pacific vs. Humboldt State, 7:30 p.m.

Sat., Nov. 9 WWU vs. Humboldt State, 5:30 p.m. Seattle Pacific vs. Fresno Pacific, 7:30 p.m.

Live Stats and Live Video available at http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/fpu.portal

FRESNO PACIFIC, which is coming off a 4-21 season as a first-year NCAA II member, has a new coach in Lindsey Wilson, who headed the Eastern New Mexico program the last two years after five seasons as an assistant at NCAA I Texas-Arlington. The Sunbirds are led by 5-6 junior guard Keairra White, who averaged 18.2 points last year. FPU also has 5-10 sophomore forward Charde Stevens (8.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg) and 5-10 senior forward Breana Buczek (4.7 ppg). WWU has won both previous meetings with FPU, the last in 1999.

HUMBOLDT STATE returns two starters from last year's 10-18 team. Back for Lumberjack coach Joddie Gleason (10th year, 267-150) are 6-1 senior center Elle Anderson (6.9 ppg & 5.8 rpg) and 5-11 senior forward Kelly Kime (8.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg). WWU has not played HSU since 2006 and holds a 20-2 series advantage.

TOP 25 RANKING: WWU was ranked No.6 in the USA Today Preseason Top 25 and No.11 in the Division II Bulletin Preseason Top 25.

HOME COURT DOMINANCE: The Vikings are 437-72 (85.8 percent) in 41 seasons at Carver Gym. Their longest home court win streak was 29 from 1983 to 1986. WWU was 16-0 at home last season and is working on a 20-game home court victory string over the last two years.

COACH DOLFO: Carmen Dolfo, who was the CaptainU Division II National Coach of the Year last season, is beginning her 23rd year as head coach at WWU. She has a 475-173 (73.3 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 907 victories (308 losses, 74.7 percent) in its 42-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 40 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, now the Vikings' director of athletics, 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.

FAMILY TIES: Two members of this year's team have fathers who played men's basketball at WWU. They are Tia Briggs (Ed) and Kiana Gandy (Joe). Sarah Hill's sister, Celeste, was an All-America hoop player for the Vikings, 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: 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.

PRE-SEASON HONORS: Two Vikings - Donaldson and Hill - were named to the GNAC preseason all-conference team.

VIKINGS THIRD IN GNAC COACHES POLL: WWU received three of 10 first-place votes as it 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.

COLLEGIATE FIRST: WWU was the first college in the country to boast two 400-win women's basketball coaches. Lynda Goodrich, who recently retired 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 475.

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) 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.

PROBABLE WESTERN STARTERS & TOP RESERVES:

F Kiana Gandy,5-10, R-Fr., Des Moines, WA/Mount Rainier
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

G Marcel Pounds, 5-8, **Jr.., Bonney Lake, WA/Bonney Lake F Aleisha Hathaway, 5-9, *So., Spokane, WA/Shadle Park C Tia Briggs, 6-1, Fr., Tacoma, WA/Wilson F Rachel Albert, 5-10, Fr., Bellingham, WA/Sehome G Taylor Peacocke, 5-9, Fr., Kenmore, WA/Inglemoor/Sacramento State *letters won

MOST RECENT GAME SUMMARIES:

Oct. 27 - Fraser Valley BC 93, WWU 89 at Bellingham (Exhibition)

Colard scored a game-high 28 points for WWU, which fell 93-89 in overtime to University of Fraser Valley in an exhibition game at Carver Gym.

UFV, which was ranked No.4 nationally in the Canadian preseason poll, was led by center Sarah Wierks, who had a team-high 17 points and a game-high 15 rebounds, nine of them on the offensive boards. She scored six straight points in the overtime period to give the Cascades an 89-82 lead with 1:28 remaining.

WWU closed the deficit to two, 91-89, on a 3-pointer by Peacocke with 10 seconds to go. But UFV's Kaylie Sartori sealed the victory six seconds later with two free throws.

The Vikings trailed by two, 78-76, with 11 seconds remaining in regulation play, when White drove the length of the floor for a layup to send the game into overtime.

White finished with 10 points and game highs of six assists and four steals.

WWU's Gandy scored 12 points on 6-of-7 field-goal shooting, 10 in the second half.

She also grabbed eight rebounds.

Also scoring double figures for the Vikings was Donaldson, who had 14 points and a team-high nine rebounds.

UFV had five players score double figures, Besides Sarah Wierks, Nicole Wierks had 16, Courtney Bartel 15, Nataliia Gavryliuk 12 and Sartori 11.

Colard connected on 6-of-14 treys and was 6-of-6 on free throws.

WWU led by 12, 20-8, seven minutes into the game, the biggest lead by either team.

The Vikings held a 41-35 advantage at halftime.

Nov. 2 - WWU 90, Quest BC 58 at Bellingham (Exhibition)

Peacocke came off the bench to score a game-high 21 points and Hill had a double-double with 19 points and 15 rebounds as WWU rolled to a 90-58 victory over Quest University in an exhibition game at Carver Gym.

The Vikings also got 12 points off the bench from Hathaway. Quest, located in Squamish, B.C., was led by forward Mariam Baumann with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Abbey Piazza scored 12 points for the Kermodes and Aimee Johnston had 10.

The Vikings scored the first 13 points of the second half, six by Donaldson, for a 58-33 lead with 15:25 remaining on a jumper by Peacocke, who had 15 points in the period.

Trailing 19-18 after the first 10 minutes, WWU ran off 12 consecutive points for a 30-19 advantage with 6:34 to go in the opening half and led 45-33 at the intermission. Hill had 14 points and 10 rebounds in the first 20 minutes.

The Vikings made 26-of-30 free throws and had 12 steals in forcing 23 turnovers.