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Cal State San Marcos ends WWU women’s season in regional semifinals

Vikings’ late comeback attempt falls short in 66-61 loss

Western Washington University sophomore Demi Dykstra guards a Cal State San Marcos ball-handler Saturday, March 16 during the Vikings' 62-56 loss in the NCAA II West Regional semifinals in Azusa, California. (Photo courtesy of WWU Athletics)
By Mathew Callaghan Sports Intern

Western women’s bid for a second NCAA Division II championship game appearance in three seasons ended with a 62-56 loss to Cal State San Marcos in the West Regional semifinals Saturday, March 16 in Azusa, California. 

The Vikings, who were making their fourth straight West Regional Tournament appearance, opened the tourney with a 66-61 win over Cal Poly Pomona on Friday, March 15. But they couldn’t keep that momentum churning Saturday.

Western’s cold shooting from long-range (19% on 4 of 21 shots) and from the field (33%) would be their demise. 

After heading into the final quarter tied at 44-44, Cal State went on a 14-3 scoring run to go up 58-47 with 4:39 left to play. Jumpers from Demi Dykstra, a layup from Brooke Walling and free throws from Olivia Wikstrom brought the Vikings back within four at 60-56.  

Western had a chance to make it a one-possession game but missed two back-to-back 3-pointers. With under 10 seconds left in the game, Cal State’s Ava Ranson was sent to the charity stripe where she put the game out of reach for good. Ranson ended with a game-high 23 points. 

Western’s Riley Dykstra shoots a 3-pointer over a Cal State San Marcos defender. (Photo courtesy of WWU Athletics)

Wetsern’s defense held strong for the most part, limiting Cal State San Marcos to 37.3% from the floor and 35.7% from distance. The Vikings also out-rebounded the Cougars 46-28. 

 Brooke Walling put up a team-high 19 points to go with 10 rebounds and four blocks. Junior guard Riley Dykstra scored 13 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out six assists. Freshman guard Demi Dykstra and junior forward Aspen Garrison each had nine points. 

The Cougars’ defense held the Vikings’ second-leading scorer, sophomore Mason Oberg, scoreless, along with all-Great Northwest Athletic Conference guard Stephanie Peterson. 

Walling and Peterson each played their final games as Vikings. 

“They are outstanding seniors,” Western head coach Carmen Dolfo said. “They have worked incredibly hard. They’re great leaders … They put their team first and they’re willing to do whatever it takes for us to be successful. So, I thoroughly enjoy coaching them. I think our team loves playing with them and they really are great, great women.”   

Western ends its season with a 26-5 overall record. The Vikings, who won their second straight GNAC Tournament championship, have reached the NCAA II Tournament in 20 of 25 possible seasons. 

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