WWU Vikings

Viks find success beyond the arc

Look closely at the Western Washington University women’s basketball team’s stats and you’ll notice that the Vikings’ 3-point attempts per game have decreased over the past four years leading into the 2014-15 season. After shooting from beyond the arc an average of about 19 times a game in the 2010-11 season, the Vikings only shot 14 times a game from deep last year.

This season the trend is starting to reverse and for good reason. The Vikings are shooting roughly 15 3s a game in the early season and they’re doing it at a 39.2 percent clip, which ranks 17th among NCAA Division II schools.

The 39.2 percent is about 3 percent higher than WWU has shot the past four seasons, when the Vikings hovered around 36 percent. The increased efficiency has helped the Vikings to a 77.5 points per game average, 31st in Division II.

While several players have contributed to the 3-point success, it’s been senior guard Katie Colard leading the way. Colard is shooting a career-best 47.4 percent from 3, which ranks 21st in Division II.

She shoots a lot of 3s too, as nearly three-quarters of her shots come from beyond the arc.

While Colard’s point per game is just a touch down from last season — 14.7 to 14.3 — her increased efficiency from deep — 39.4 to 47.4 — is certainly helping the Vikings.

Colard also passed 1,000 career points on Thursday, Jan. 1, and it was, of course, done from 3-point range. She was the 23rd Viking in history to hit the mark.

The presence of a low post this season is no doubt helping, as junior post Kayla Bernsen is back to full strength after missing last season with a knee injury. Bernsen is averaging 12.8 points and seven rebounds per game.

Whereas last year’s post players Sarah Hill and Sydney Donaldson typically preferred the high post, Bernsen’s ability to play down low is helping Colard get open.

Sophomore Taylor Peacocke’s improved scoring — from 11 points per game last season to 14 this season — has also helped space the floor.

The Vikings haven’t yet benefited in the win column, as they stand at 6-5, including 0-2 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, but they’ve also faced some of the toughest competition in the NCAA.

WWU’s five losses include two ranked teams in No. 4 West Texas A&M and No. 19 Seattle Pacific along with two teams which have consistently received votes but just missed the Top 25 — Humbolt State and Simon Fraser.

The Vikings are hoping the hot 3-point shooting continues now that GNAC play is in full swing, and that it brings some wins with it as well.