Western Wash. downs Simon Fraser
Waltrip has 19 points and seven assists as Vikings advance
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- Guard Corinn Waltrip scored a team-high 19 on 5-of-6 3-point shooting and added a game-high seven assists, helping Western Washington University defeat Simon Fraser University 73-60 in an opening-round Great Northwest Athletic Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament game Monday at Sam Carver Gymnasium on the WWU campus.
The Vikings, who are No.6 in the latest USA Today ESPN NCAA Division II Top 25 and No.1 in the most recent West Region rating, improved to 25-2 overall.
Western is the No.1 seed in the GNAC tourney after posting a 17-1 conference record, and will host a semifinal Wednesday. Western remained perfect in 12 home games this season, extending its winning streak at Carver Gym to 25, four short of the school record set 15 years ago.
Simon Fraser, the No.8 seed, completed its season 7-17. Sophomore center Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe, a first-team all-GNAC pick who leads the conference in points (18.6), field-goal percentage (61.2) and rebounds (11.9), had 25 points and 10 rebounds for the Clan, hitting 11-of-13 shots from the floor.
Western led by as much as 20 in the second half and had a 62-47 lead with just under nine minutes left before going scoreless for four-and-a-half minutes, enabling SFU to pull to within seven, 62-55 with less than five minutes to play. They got within seven a final time at 67-60 with 2:27 to go, but on both occasions, Waltrip hit 3-pointers to push the lead back to 10.
Center Lauren Hefflin had 18 points for Western on 9-of-13 field-goal shooting, helping the Vikings shoot 50.8 percent (31-of-61) from the floor. Forward Kristin Schramm added 12 points, all in the first half.
Western led by just eight, 29-21, with 3:30 left in the first half, but closed the half with a 12-2 charge, with Schramm scoring 10 of the points including a 3-pointer with two seconds left in the period, giving the Vikings a 41-23 lead at halftime.
Western guard Amanda Dunbar, the GNAC Player of the Year, had just five points, but did move into third place in GNAC career scoring with 1,625 points. She is fourth in Viking history in career scoring.
This if the first time that the GNAC has had a post-season tournament. The winner of the eight-team, single-elimination affair gains an automatic berth in the West Regional of the NCAA National Tournament as the GNAC champion.