Defense leads Vikings to fourth straight win
Western men’s basketball has won its fourth game in a row and five out of its last six after beating Montana State University Billings.
Starting the game with a pass to center Blake Bowen for three, the Vikings went on a 21-9 run and never let up in their 79-64 victory over the Yellowjackets on Thursday, Jan. 28.
The Yellowjackets were held to 34.9 percent from the floor, had 20 turnovers and never led in the game. Senior guard Kyle Impero led the Vikings in points, rebounds and assists with a 17-10-5 stat line.
“We’re all clicking well,” Impero said. “The energy is good which is really nice. We’re not losing, and we’re just picking up where we left off from the last game.”
The Vikings lost earlier in the month at MSUB by two points. This time they led through most of the game by an average margin of at least 10 points.
With a now 14-7 record, head coach Tony Dominguez credited a sense of purpose to their recent success.
“I know everyone’s thinking it’s corny but we’ve been working on why we’re doing what we’re doing and what we are playing for,” Dominguez said. “I think them answering that question for themselves has helped them realize their potential.”
In the first half, the Vikings made an 11-5 run to start the game and then senior forward Colby Mitchell subbed in as the sixth man and got a lay-up for his first shot. With that bucket, Mitchell scored six of his 10 total points for the game in a few minutes to make it a 19-9 difference.
Averaging about six steals a half, the defense of the Vikings created a lot of shots in transition and opened up the offense. The score finished at 42-31 at the half and the crowd cheered for the Western Hip Hop Dance Team during the break.
The two teams were about even in scoring to start the second half and the lead was cut to 10 points. In response, sophomore forward Evan Scholten hit back to back three-point shots, followed by freshman guard Trey Drechsel hitting another three and finally junior forward Jeffrey Parker hitting three as well. Parker was then fouled to make it a four-point play. In a matter of four possessions, the Vikings widened the gap from 50-40 to 63-42.
The next game the Vikings play will be at home against the University of Alaska Anchorage on Feb. 4. Alaska Anchorage is currently second in the conference with a 9-2 record. Last time the two teams played, Western lost by three points on the road.
“They play small and they shoot a lot of threes,” Dominguez said. “So we want to defend the threes, rebound and just continue to play with that passion that we’ve been playing with.”