BELLINGHAM - Western Washington University's Taylor Peacocke made her way back to the locker room, passing the Vikings' former athletic director of 26 years, Lynda Goodrich, in the dimly-lit hallway in the back of Sam Carver Gymnasium.
WWU's women's basketball coach, Carmen Dolfo, stopped the freshman guard and gestured toward Goodrich.
"She's your scholarship fund," said Dolfo to Peacocke, pointing at Goodrich.
A laugh preceded Peacocke and Goodrich sharing a moment together, with the long-time AD offering some final praise.
"I liked that 3," Goodrich said.
So did everyone else in Carver Gym, as Peacocke's 15 second-half points helped lead the Vikings past the University of Alaska Anchorage 76-70 on Thursday, Jan. 23.
Peacocke finished with a game-high 17 points, and none were more important than a pair of back-to-back 3-pointers she hit to give WWU (10-6 overall) a 69-67 lead with 2:32 left in the tightly-fought Great Northwest Athletic Conference battle.
"I just got hot," Peacocke said. "I knew I was going to hit that second shot."
The Seawolves evened the game up at 69-69 after Peacocke's second 3, but a putback layup by Sarah Hill off her own miss gave WWU a 71-69 lead that it wouldn't relinquish.
UAA's Alli Madison missed a late free throw that would have tied the game, and Peacocke brought the lead back to three, 73-70, after a pair of free throws. Jenni White iced the game with her fifth steal, and she proceeded to hit both her free throws on the other end.
The win was WWU's fifth in a row in conference play, and it now sits in a tie atop the conference with a 6-2 record.
And while the win was by no means easy, it certainly is keeping with a theme for a Vikings' squad that has found ways to win games late.
"They showed great composure the last five minutes," Dolfo said. "We got down eight; I felt like Taylor hit some huge shots. ... I felt like the last five minutes we did the right thing. We were in the moment."
Peacocke added: "We're really good at getting ourselves in a hole, but it shows how much heart this team has."
Freshman post Tia Briggs finished with 16 points and five rebounds. Sarah Hill added 13 and nine; White finished with 12 points and three assists and Katie Colard tossed in 11 of her own.
Madison and Jenna Buchanan led the Seawolves with 15 apiece, although neither player shot the ball particularly well from the field. Combined, the two finished just 12-for-32 shooting. As a team, UAA finished 28 of 75 from the floor (37.3 percent) against WWU going 26 of 62 (42 percent).
The first half featured UAA jumping out to a quick 7-2 lead. The Vikings answered back by going on a 10-2 run, with much of the damage being done by Briggs finding the soft spot in the Seawolves' zone defense. White's defensive pressure led to three early steals that all became transition layups for the junior guard, helping the Vikings curb UAA's relentless effort on the offensive glass.
"It's like we are standing there trying to outjump them," said Peacocke of the Seawolves' 18 offensive rebounds. "We had to decide."
Briggs' putback layup off a White miss at the end of the first half gave WWU a 38-36 lead heading into the half.
"Tia really kept us in it in the first half," said Dolfo of Briggs, who finished the first half with 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting.
After the two teams traded baskets to start the second half, Buchanan hit three consecutive 3-pointers and a pair of free throws to give the Seawolves their largest lead of the game at 50-43. Madison and Kylie Burns hit consecutive layups on UAA's following possessions, stretching its lead to nine, 54-45.
A pair of free throws by Briggs and White kept the game close, but Buchanan again found ways to breakdown the Vikings' defense with two mid-range jumpers.
White hit a pair of free throws in the next possession, preceding Peacocke's outburst in the final 7:50 of the game.
UAA came in the highest scoring team in the GNAC, averaging 87.5 points per game while forcing on average 17 turnovers. WWU answered by turning the ball over just 14 times while causing 16 of their own.
"Everything for them is in transition - everything," Dolfo said. "You don't want to get in that type of game ... and that was the goal."
WWU hosts the University of Alaska Fairbanks at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 25, at Sam Carver Gymnasium.
Reach Alex Bigelow at email@example.com or call 360-715-2238. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for other Whatcom County sports updates.
WESTERN WASHINGTON 76, ALASKA ANCHORAGE 70
ALASKA ANCHORAGE (12-4, 5-3 GNAC)
Madison,Alli 7-18 1-2 15; Buchanan,Jenna 5-14 2-2 15; Robertson,Kiki 5-8 3-3 13; Burns,Kylie 4-10 2-2 10; Madison,Jessica 2-7 0-0 6; Craft,Emily 3-10 0-1 6; Davis,Christina 1-4 0-0 3; Wright,KeKe 1-1 0-0 2; Devine,Alysha 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 28-75 8-10 70.
WESTERN WASHINGTON (10-6, 6-2 GNAC)
Peacocke,Taylor 6-9 2-2 17; Briggs,Tia 7-13 2-4 16; Hill,Sarah 4-8 5-7 13; White,Jenni 3-9 6-6 12; Colard,Katie 4-11 0-0 11; Donaldson,Sydney 2-8 3-4 7; Gandy,Kiana 0-1 0-0 0; Pounds,Marcel 0-3 0-0 0; Albert,Rachel 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-62 18-23 76.
Half: WWU 38, AA 36
3-point goals--Alaska Anchorage 6-17 (Buchanan,Jenna 3-6; Madison,Jessica 2-5; Davis,Christina 1-1; Burns,Kylie 0-2; Robertson,Kiki 0-1; Madison,Alli 0-2), Western Washington 6-18 (Peacocke,Taylor 3-3; Colard,Katie 3-10; White,Jenni 0-3; Pounds,Marcel 0-2). Fouled out--Alaska Anchorage-None, Western Washington-None. Rebounds--Alaska Anchorage 44 (Burns,Kylie 12), Western Washington 41 (Hill,Sarah 9). Assists--Alaska Anchorage 14 (Madison,Alli 6), Western Washington 13 (Donaldson,Sydney 3; White,Jenni 3). Total fouls--Alaska Anchorage 18, Western Washington 13. Technical fouls--Alaska Anchorage-None, Western Washington-None. A-358