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Western’s hot perimeter shooting lifts Vikings to GNAC finals

Dykstra pours in 24 points, Walling nears triple-double in 75-60 win over Alaska Anchorage

Western Washington University's Riley Dykstra, left, and Brooke Walling celebrate after a timeout is called Friday, March 8 in the Vikings' 75-60 win over Alaska Anchorage in the GNAC tournament semifinals in Ellensburg. (Photo courtesy of Jacob Thompson/Central Washington University Athletics)
By Mathew Callaghan Sports Intern

Western Washington University women’s basketball traveled to Ellensburg and defeated Alaska Anchorage, 75-60, in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference tournament semifinals on Saturday, March 8. 

The No. 2-seeded Vikings (22-6) will now advance to the GNAC final where they hope to capture their second league title in a row. Western will face either No. 1 MSU Billings (25-5) or No. 4 Central Washington (19-11) at 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 9. 

Senior forward Brooke Walling was one assist away from recording the first triple-double of her career with 12 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Meanwhile, junior guard Riley Dykstra missed only one 3-pointer, shooting 8-for-9 from deep, en route to a game-high 24 points. Dykstra set a new GNAC record for 3-pointers in a tournament game, passing the Vikings’ Corinn Waltrip’s seven in 2011. 

“My teammates have so much faith in me and that makes me catch-ready [to shoot],” Dykstra said. “Once I get rolling, it’s all because of them because they find me so well.” 

Senior guard Stephanie Peterson added 17 points and sophomore guard Mason Oberg finished with nine, helping the Vikings walk away with a 15-point victory.  

Western’s Riley Dykstra celebrates one of her eight 3-pointers. Dykstra broke the single-game GNAC tournament record with the flurry of triples. (Photo courtesy of Jacob Thompson/Central Washington University Athletics)

As a team, Western shot 52.8% overall and connected on 53.9% of its 3-pointers (14 of 26). Alaska Anchorage’s offense shot 38.5% from the field and 36.8% from beyond the arc (7 of 19).  

For the Seawolves, Senya Roubin led the team with 16 points, while sophomore guard Elaina Mack had 12 points, all on 3-pointers.

Walling said previous losses to Alaska Anchorage were extra motivation Saturday.

“Going into this game, we really wanted to win, and I think we took the mistakes we made in those last two games and focused on making a change this time around,” Walling said.

Alaska Anchorage beat Western in both their matchups during the regular season. Those losses accounted for half of the Vikings’ total losses at the hands of conference opponents. In total, Western accrued seven more rebounds and nine more assists but had five more turnovers than Alaska Anchorage.  

“I was really proud of these guys,” Western head coach Carmen Dolfo said. “We just stayed calm with it and Riley did such a good job of catching, ready [to shoot]. Brooke and team did a really good job of finding her. They moved the ball, they played together, and they stuck to our gameplan.” 

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