Western Washington University women’s basketball opened the season with an impressive defensive display: a 70-47 home opener win over Cal State Dominguez Hills at Carver Gymnasium on Friday, Nov. 10.
The Vikings showed off their clean fundamentals with 23 assists on 29 made field goals, holding Cal State to 24% shooting. Junior Riley Dykstra led the passing clinic with a career-high eight assists to one turnover.
Western jumped out to a 10-0 lead and didn’t allow the Toros to make a field goal for the first seven minutes of the game.
After nine first-quarter points from sophomore Mason Oberg, four assists from Riley Dykstra and a near-buzzer-beating layup from senior Brooke Walling, the Vikings were up 24-6 at the end of the first quarter.
Mason Oberg sinks a 3-pointer, scoring the first points of the season for the Vikings. Oberg led the scoring with 16 points. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)
The Vikings held Cal State to 1-of-16 shooting from the field in the first period. The Vikings’ stifling defense persisted in the second quarter, but their offense went ice-cold. Each team traded missed shots and turnovers for much of the first quarter.
By halftime, the Vikings’ 18-point lead had been cut in half. The Vikings shot 2-of-12 from the field and lost the quarter 13-4, making the halftime score 28-19.
“We were on our heels, and we played cautious,” Western head coach Carmen Dolfo said about the lackluster second quarter. “We didn’t play up-tempo, and I think we are a much better team when we play up-tempo.”
At the break, the Vikings attempted to steal the momentum back.
Olivia Wikstrom watches her shot bounce in, and bounce out of the basket. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)
“We got really determined at halftime, and we really wanted to come out the way we did in the first quarter,” Dykstra said.
The Vikings’ offense began to click, and they got multiple open shots to start the third quarter. Walling finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks. She had nine second-half points to boost her team.
Dolfo wanted her team to run in the second half and the Vikings were able to accomplish that, getting the lead back up to 48-33 by the end of the third quarter.
Western's Riley Dykstra passes to Stephanie Peterson during the first quarter. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)
Western pushed the lead to 21 after a tough 3-point play by Walling.
Soon after Walling's basket, the Vikings were able to increase their biggest lead to 26, finishing the game 70-47.
Last year, the Vikings led the Great Northwest Athletic Conference in field goal percentage allowed but went into this year without since-graduated two-time GNAC Defensive Player of the Year Avery Dykstra.
Dolfo wants her team to commit to team defense. That was on full display Friday night, as the Vikings had 12 blocks, eight steals, and only gave up 16 free throws on top of the low shooting percentage allowed.
Viking Riley Dykstra, left, and Jadyn Watts grab for the rebound. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)
Mason Oberg had a game-high 16 points and three Vikings finished with double figures.
Guard Riley Dykstra filled up the stat sheet with 11 points, eight assists, five rebounds and a plus-minus of 29. Dykstra praised her team's ability to find open space for her.
“We’re a super unselfish team,” she said. “I am always looking for the best shot, and I think that is why we were able to get so many open shots.”
The team has a short turnaround and plays at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11 against Cal State Los Angeles at Carver Gymnasium.