Matchup: Western Washington University vs. Northwest Nazarene University
When: 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 6, at NNU.
How to watch:Link to the live stream can be found here.
Records:WWU (11-8, Great Northwest Athletic Conference 7-4)
NNU (12-7, 5-6 GNAC)
The Vikings, after winning six consecutive games to gain share of first place in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, have lost two in a row as they enter their matchup with Northwest Nazarene University. The most recent loss - a 68-62 defeat to Seattle Pacific University at SPU - saw WWU shoot just 36.8 percent from the field (21 of 57), a surprising outcome given coach Carmen Dolfo and her squad lead the GNAC in shooting percentage (45.1 percent). And while the Vikings' offense has mustered just 63 and 62 points, respectively, in their past two games, junior guard Katie Colard has scored in double figures in 10 of her past 12 games, including a 20-point outburst against NNU when the two teams last played on Jan. 11 in a 81-66 WWU win. Senior 6-foot-3 center Sarah Hill has provided a nice inside-outside compliment to Colard over the past few games, as well, averaging 12.9 points per game and 6.14 rebounds per game over her past seven contests.
Like the Vikings, the Crusader's have had their struggles of late. NNU, after entering its matchup with WWU on Jan. 11 the No. 18-ranked Division II women's basketball team, has lost three of its last five games, with its most recent loss coming to one of the four teams tied for second in the GNAC standings, the University of Alaska-Anchorage. The Crusaders are led by senior Megan Hingston (16.1 points per game) and and sophomore Taylor Simmons (14.1). As an offense, NNU likes to run and score in the high 70's, ranking second in the conference in average points per game with 76.5. And when the Crusaders score at least 70 points in a game, they are 11-3 this season vs. 2-4 when they are kept below that mark. It should pose a difficult matchup for a WWU defense that is holding its opponents to 65.6 points per game this season.
Key to the game:
The Vikings simply go as they rebound. During their six-game winning streak, the Vikings were outrebounding their opponents by an average of 9.3 boards per game. During their two-game losing streak, WWU is getting being outworked on the glass by an average of six rebounds per game. NNU comes in the second-ranked rebounding team in the conference, but the last time these two teams met that matter little when WWU beat the Crusaders on the glass 42-33. Whoever wins the rebounding battle will be on their way to a good conference win.
Reach Alex Bigelow at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-715-2238. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for other Whatcom County sports updates. Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2014/01/23/3436619/sports-blog-preview-of-wwu-vs.html#storylink=cpy