When it comes to women’s basketball showdowns in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, they don’t get much bigger than those between UAA and Western Washington the past couple of seasons.
The rivals met in the past two GNAC tournament title games, with both championships going UAA’s way. But things went Western Washington’s way Thursday in a 70-60 win over UAA in front of a spirited crowd at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex. It was the Vikings’ first win against UAA in their last six tries.
“Western is super talented,” said UAA’s Alysa Horn, who led all scorers with a career-high 26 points. “It exposed our weaknesses, just like any loss will. We definitely had to earn everything we got.”
Ranked 20th among NCAA Division II teams, Western Washington (9-2, 3-0 GNAC) used a distinct size advantage to outrebound UAA 41-31.
The Vikings, led by 16 points from Britt Harris, can also shoot. They nailed eight 3-pointers and shot 44.1 percent to UAA’s 34 percent.
UAA (7-3, 1-1 GNAC), fell behind quickly and never led. The Seawolves’ first four shots came from beyond the arc, but only one of them found the basket. When Western Washington sharpshooter Katie Colard (13 points) made the third of her three treys less than five minutes in, the Vikings led 12-3.
“The game plan was not to let her get an attempt at the 3-point line,” UAA coach Ryan McCarthy said. “We didn’t do that and we had some miscommunications on defense that gave her some looks. They weren’t all wide open, but when you have a shooter like that and she hits one, she’s gonna hit a couple more, probably.”
UAA answered with a 9-4 run that included six points off the bench from Alli Madison and pulled UAA to within 16-14 midway through the first half, but that was as close as the Seawolves got. Madison, a sophomore, finished with a career-high 14 points, leading all first-half scorers with 11.
“We were a little shorthanded, so I knew I had to come prepared to play,” Madison said. “I just tried to focus and do what the coach wanted to do, run the game plan and make buckets.”
Because of injuries, UAA was without Mariesha Harris and only got 12 minutes from Sasha King. The two guards both failed to start for the first time this season and left a noticeable hole in UAA’s attack.
“When you’re playing a team like Western Washington, you gotta be at 100 percent and obviously we weren’t,” McCarthy said. “I was proud of our effort tonight, but there were some things, especially on the rebounding end, that for whatever reason we didn’t execute tonight.”
Even so, UAA was somehow within a hot shooting streak of making it a close game. The Seawolves trailed by as many as 17, but were within eight when Jessica Madison (11 points) buried a 3-pointer with 6:39 remaining in the game.
Western Washington, which got 13 points from Corinn Waltrip and 10 from Sydney Donaldson, always had an answer for a UAA run, usually in the form of some hot shooting.
During one sequence early in the second half, Western Washington’s Marcel Pounds put together a nine-point run all on her own, scoring three points on three consecutive possessions. She sandwiched a pair of 3-pointers around an old-fashioned 3-point play in which she made a free throw after being fouled while making a layup. Pounds’ efforts put the Vikings up 54-39 with just more than 11 minutes remaining.
“We were lucky,” said Western Washington coach Carmen Dolfo, who is in her 22nd season at the helm for the Vikings. “I thought (UAA) played great for some of the things they had to go through. I mean Horn played amazing and they just play so hard and scrappy and, you know, they’re just a good team.”
Things don’t get any easier for the Seawolves, who will host ninth-ranked Simon Fraser on Saturday.
WESTERN WASHINGTON (70) — Hill 2-4 0-1 5, Harris 6-12 4-6 16, Waltrip 4-13 3-4 13, Williams 1-7 0-2 2, Colard 4-8 2-2 13, Benner 0-0 0-0 0, White 0-0 0-0 0, Pounds 3-3 1-3 9, Bernsen 1-5 0-0 2, Hathaway 0-0 0-0 0, Donaldson 5-7 0-0 10. Totals 26-59 10-18 70.
UAA (60) — Horn 9-18 5-5 26, Hutchins 0-2 0-0 0, Buchanan 2-6 2-2 6, J. Madison 2-5 5-6 11, Burns 0-4 1-2 1, A. Madison 4-12 5-6 14, King 0-3 2-2 2, Martin 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-50 20-23 60.
Western Washington 36 34 — 70
UAA 29 31 — 60
3-point goals — WWU 8-17 (Colard 3-5, Pounds 2-2, Waltrip 2-7, Hill 1-2, Williams 0-1), UAA 6-20 (Horn 3-5, J. Madison 2-5, A. Madison 1-1, Burns 0-4, Hutchins 0-1, King 0-1). Rebounds — WWU 41 (4 players with six), UAA 31 (Horn 8). Total fouls — WWU 14, UAA 14. Fouled out — Bernsen. Technical fouls — Western Washington team, J. Madison. Assists — WWU 21 (Williams 6), UAA 10 (Hutchins 3). Turnovers — WWU 14 (Colard 5), UAA 14 (Buchanan 3, A. Madison 3). Steals — WWU 9 (Williams 4), UAA 6 (A. Madison 2). Blocked shots — WWU 3, UAA 2 (Horn 2). Officials — Mott, Lujan, Johnson. A — 648.
By JEREMY PETERS