One of the most exciting plays in basketball is a last-second shot with the game’s outcome on the line. The Western Washington women’s team had two of those last week at Sam Carver Gymnasium, making both, as the Vikings earned Red Lion Hotels Great Northwest Athletic Conference Team of the Week honors.
Forward Sydney Donaldson nailed the game winner at the buzzer in WWU’s 70-69 victory over Northwest Nazarene on Thursday, Feb. 5, while center Kayla Bernsen was the hero with a put-back at 1.3 seconds in the Vikings’ 62-61 win over Central Washington on Saturday, Feb. 7.
The two one-point victories were WWU’s closest conference clashes of the season and, more importantly, positioned them one-half game out of second place in the GNAC standings with just five games remaining before the conference tournament.
After long road trips to Alaska and Montana the previous two weeks, WWU (15-7, 9-4 GNAC) was just glad to be playing at home.
Against NNU, the Vikings led by 11 with 5:30 to go. But the Crusaders came back with 12 straight points to lead 69-68 with less than two minutes remaining.
With two seconds left. Donaldson received an inbound pass from Katie Colard and drained a 16-foot shot from the left side of the key for the victory.
Less than 48 hours later, the Vikings were going against state-rival Central Washington.
WWU found itself trailing by 10 points with 13 minutes left. The Vikings made a run and tied the game with three minutes remaining.
Down by one, 61-60, Colard drove the lane and was fouled with three seconds left. She hit her first free throw, but missed the second only to have Bernsen grab the rebound and score. A desperation half-court shot by Central fell short.
Bernsen, who missed all of last season with an ACL tear, was the Vikings leading scorer in the two games with 19 points in each victory while also grabbing 14 rebounds. Colard added 28 points and Jenni White contributed 20 points and 10 assists.
WWU makes its final road trip of the regular season this week, beginning with a game at Saint Martin’s on Wednesday that will be televised regionally on ROOT Sports.