Western Washington University’s women’s basketball team can score from anywhere on the court and from any one of their five starters.
So even though senior forward Sydney Donaldson wasn’t very active in the offense for much of the game — she only had four of the team’s 57 shots heading into the final seconds — Vikings’ coach Carmen Dolfo called on the savvy veteran.
With just 1.8 seconds remaining and trailing Northwest Nazarene University by one, senior guard Katie Colard lobbed an inbound pass from under the WWU hoop to Donaldson, who had cut to her favorite spot — the elbow of the key.
Donaldson caught and fired from 15 feet out and all that remained was the swish of the net as the buzzer sounded, giving the Vikings a 70-69 Great Northwest Athletic Conference victory on Thursday, Feb. 5, at Sam Carver Gymnasium.
“It was awesome,” Dolfo said. “I think Katie did a great job getting her the ball. It’s a play we run often. I think she’s run it so many times, she did a great job. It was nice to see her with confidence. We called the play and she was ready for it. She wanted the ball.”
While a win is a win, it could have been much more convincing for the Vikings. Both in the first and second halves, WWU (14-7, 8-4 GNAC) went on big runs to gain even larger leads.
In the first half, the Vikings pulled to an early 14-4 lead. Then the Crusaders (5-16, 3-9) came storming back, going on a 16-2 run to take the lead, as the Vikings didn’t find a point for a six-minute span.
“We definitely let them back in the game,” sophomore forward Kiana Gandy said. “It was nothing they did that we didn’t already know that they do.”
The second half was a mirror image. The Vikings went on an 11-4 run to extend a two-point halftime lead to 12 points with 13 minutes remaining.
Northwest Nazarene forced it to the wire by going on a 12-0 run over the last five minutes of the game, taking a one-point lead with 1:30 to go.
“I think we played good defense and we moved the ball well. We just really got the ball moving and we were confident,” Dolfo said of the success early in halves. “Then they’d start making a run and in responding we played careful instead of confident like we were.”
With 15 seconds to go and the Vikings still trailing by one, Dolfo called a timeout. The play the Vikings ran was simple, get the ball to junior center Kayla Bernsen, who had a game-high 19 points, and have her attack the basket.
Despite contact going up for a short 5-footer, there was no foul called and the ball careened off the rim into the hands of a Crusader.
But the refs blew traveling as the fight for the ball went to the ground and it was perfectly setup for Donaldson’s heroics.
“It’s a huge confidence booster,” Gandy said. “We go over last minute stuff in practice a lot. It’s so reassuring knowing you can bring that over to the game and knowing what we’re doing in practice, we’re actually getting better at it.”
The Vikings hope to carry that confidence over to Saturday night’s game against Central Washington University at Sam Carver Gymnasium.
WESTERN WASHINGTON 70, NORTHWEST NAZARENE 69
NNU (5-16, 3-9 GNAC)
Simmons,Taylor 5-9 2-3 15; Logan,Ellie 4-11 6-6 14; Cryderman,Kate 6-10 0-0 12; Tubbs,Lexi 3-6 2-2 10; Swanson,Katie 5-8 0-2 10; Gall,CoCo 2-7 2-2 6; White,Cierra 1-2 0-0 2; Ferrenburg,Ellen 0-0 0-0 0; Schumann,Kayla 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-53 12-15 69.
WWU (14-7, 8-4 GNAC)
Bernsen,Kayla 7-10 5-5 19; Colard,Katie 4-12 0-0 12; Peacocke,Taylor 6-12 0-0 12; White,Jenni 4-9 0-0 11; Donaldson,Sydney 3-5 0-0 6; Briggs,Tia 2-5 0-0 4; Hathaway,Aleisha 1-2 0-0 3; Pounds,Marcel 1-3 0-0 3; Gandy,Kiana 0-0 0-0 0; Albert,Rachel 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-58 5-5 70.
Half: WWU 35, NNU 33
3-point field goals: Northwest Nazarene 5-11 (Simmons,Taylor 3-5; Tubbs,Lexi 2-4; Cryderman,Kate 0-1; Gall,CoCo 0-1), Western Washington 9-24 (Colard,Katie 4-12; White,Jenni 3-6; Hathaway,Aleisha 1-2; Pounds,Marcel 1-3; Peacocke,Taylor 0-1). Fouled out: Northwest Nazarene-None, Western Washington-None. Rebounds: Northwest Nazarene 29 (Tubbs,Lexi 13), Western Washington 29 (Bernsen,Kayla 8). Assists: Northwest Nazarene 15
(Simmons,Taylor 4), Western Washington 25 (White,Jenni 7). Total fouls: Northwest Nazarene 7, Western Washington 15. Technical fouls: Northwest Nazarene-None, Western Washington-None. A-401