WWU hosts Seattle Pacific on Thursday, MSU Billings on Saturday
Fans cheer on the men's basketball team during a recent home game in Carver Gymnasium. File photo by Dylan Koutsky | WWU Communications and Marketing intern
Unbeaten in five league games and all alone in first place, the Western Washington University women's basketball team completes a three-game home stand this week with Great Northwest Athletic Conference contests against Seattle Pacific University on Thursday, Jan. 17 (7 p.m.), and Montana State University Billings on Saturday, Jan. 19 (7 p.m.), at Sam Carver Gymnasium on the WWU campus.
A video stream and live stats for both contests are available at www.wwuvikings.com.
The Vikings, who have moved up 12 spots over the last two weeks and are ranked No.8 in the latest USA Today Sports/ESPN NCAA Division II Top 25 Poll, are 11-2 overall and lead the GNAC standings at 5-0. They are working on a five-game winning streak overall and have won 11 straight at home over the last two seasons.
Last week, WWU posted a 59-57 buzzer-beating win over No.7 Simon Fraser at Carver Gym where it has not lost in seven games this season.
The Vikings opened their campaign with six victories, all at home, before losing twice on the road in northern California. They began their current win streak with close decisions over two Top 25-ranked teams at the South Point Holiday Hoops Classic, prevailing against No.6 Washburn KS, 64-62, and No.15 Grand Canyon, 72-68 in overtime.
Two weeks ago, WWU swept a two-game road trip in Alaska for the second time in three seasons.
The Vikings are second in the GNAC in scoring defense (58.5), field-goal percentage defense (36.6), 3-point percentage (36.3), blocked shots (4.2) and assists (17.2).
Three seniors pace WWU, led by center Britt Harris, who is averaging a team-best 14.6 points per game, and is second in rebounding with a 5.5 average. She is shooting 55.0 percent (71-of-129) from the field, second in the GNAC.
Harris scored the winning basket against Simon Fraser, tying for game-high honors in points with 14. She has scored double-figure points in 11 of 13 games this season.
Forward Trishi Williams, who is averaging 10.7 points and 5.4 rebounds, leads the squad in both assists (3.6) and steals (2.6), and point guard Corinn Waltrip is averaging 9.5 points and is shooting 40.0 percent (22-of-55) from 3-point range.
Williams ranks third among conference leaders in floor accuracy at 52.3 percent (56-of-107) and is tied for third in steals.
Junior forward Sarah Hill, who made her first five career starts during Vikings' current victory string, leads the team in rebounds with a 6.9 average. Sophomore guard Katie Colard, who has started the last six games for WWU, is averaging 10.3 points over the last seven contests.
Seattle Pacific is 10-4 overall and 4-2 (fourth place) in league play, losing two of its last three games following a 9-2 start. The Falcons lead the GNAC in free-throw percentage (79.6) and 3-point percentage (38.1) and are second in scoring offense (74.7) and field-goal percentage (43.9).
SPU is led by second-team all-league 6-1 junior center Katie Benson (14.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg). Two other returning starters from last year's 17-10 team are 5-9 senior forward Rachel Murray (9.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg), a preseason all-conference pick, and 5-9 junior forward Aubree Callen (12.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg).
Another top player back for coach Julie Heisey (8th year, 170-48; overall 17 yrs., 332-167) is 5-7 sophomore guard Suzanna Ohlsen (4.2 apg, 50.0 3-pt. pct.).
WWU leads the series, 53-27, splitting a pair of home-and-home meetings in each of the last four seasons.
Montana State Billings is 11-3 overall and second in the conference at 5-1 (Jan. 17 at Simon Fraser), winning nine of its last 10 games after a 2-2 start.
The Yellowjackets, who lead the GNAC in offensive rebounds (16.6), are led by first-team all-league 5-8 junior guard Bobbi Knudsen, who tops the conference in assists (6.6 avg.) and is second in scoring (18.2).
Four starters return for coach Kevin Woodin (9th year, 144-96) from last year's 18-12 team. They are 5-10 sophomore forward Janiel Olson (9.1 ppg, 8.9 rpg), second among the league's blocked shot leaders at 2.7; 6-1 sophomore center Kayleen Goggins (11.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg) and 5-11 sophomore forward Quinn Peoples (8.3 ppg).
WWU leads the series, 16-9, winning the last seven meetings.