Matchup: Western Washington University (13-8, GNAC 9-4) vs. Saint Martin's (14-7, GNAC 8-4).
When: 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 13, at Sam Carver Gymnasium Last meeting:WWU defeated SMU 79-73 on Jan. 18.
Vikings update: After suffering consecutive losses to Montana State University-Billings and Seattle Pacific, WWU has countered that rough stretch by defeating both Northwest Nazarene University and Central Washington University on the road in consecutive games. Taken away from both of those contests is the amount of depth coach Carmen Dolfo has at her disposal on the offensive end. Junior Katie Colard scored a career-high 26 points in the 94-81 win over NNU, and freshman Tia Briggs followed that up with a career night against CWU, going for 19 points while three other players - Jenni White, Sydney Donaldson and Colard - also scored in double figures. The struggles on the glass have also been remedied, albeit in a small sample size, of late, as the Vikings outrebounded one of the best rebounding teams in the conference in NNU 37-32. If the Vikings continue to operate in such a diversified way on offense, their defense should be good enough to lift them to potentially sole possession of second place in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
Saints update: Saint Martin's is coming off consecutive wins over Western Oregon University, the University of Alaska-Anchorage and the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. Offensively, the Saints rank ninth (out of the 10 GNAC schools) in scoring with 66.8 points per game, but they are holding teams to a conference-best 60.8 points per game. In terms of scoring, that burden falls primarily on the shoulders of Chelsea Haskey and her 13.1 points per game. Angela Gelhar's 11.4 points per game has provided a solid 1-2 combo, but after those two the well dries up of sorts on the offensive end.
How the Vikings win: Saint Martin's plays a slower tempo, and likes to keep things in the 60's. The Saints are 1-7 in games where their opponents score 70-plus points, and WWU has scored at least 70 points 14 times this season. If the tempo suits the Vikings' running style, then they will walk away from Carver with a late-season conference win.
Reach Alex Bigelow at email@example.com or call 360-715-2238. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for other Whatcom County sports updates.