Bernsen leads Vikings to victory with defense
Making it the fifth win in a row, the Western women’s basketball team dominated defensively with a 60-43 victory over Seattle Pacific University on Feb. 11.
Senior center Kayla Bernsen led the team with 18 points, six rebounds, and six blocks.
Now 17-6 and 13-2 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and with five games left before the playoffs, the Vikings are ranked second in the conference and have a shot at the top seed in the GNAC Playoffs.
“I think we really had a gut check after we lost to Montana [State University Billings]. We know we should be winning these games,” Bernsen said. “I think we’ve had the potential to play like this and we can even do better.”
Both teams were neck-and-neck after the first half, with Western only up four. However, the Vikings shut down Seattle Pacific in the second half, allowing them to score only 14 points.
Leading the league in field goal percentage and ranked third in field goal percentage defense, the team is playing well offensively and defensively said head coach Carmen Dolfo.
“I think our players just got a little more determined,” Dolfo said. “[We] recognized where shooters were and I think Kayla did a great job in the center where she was able to block a lot of shots.”
Junior forward Rachel Albert also played well. She led the team in rebounds and was just one short of a double-double. She also went 5-6 from the field.
“She struggled a little bit to start with,” Dolfo said. “I was just really proud to see her turn it around. When Rachel scraps and hustles, every part of her game gets going … it was awesome to see.”
With the current schedule, Western’s chances of clinching the top seed in the GNAC championship are completely reliant on both its performance, as well as the performance of the University of Alaska-Anchorage, which leads the GNAC.
The second to last game of the season is against Alaska-Anchorage. The Alaskan university’s only loss this season came when it visited Western in early December.
“Games like this, that we’re really pushing, and we have dominant performances,” Bernsen said. “That gives us confidence when we go play the number one team in the nation.”
Western’s next game is against Saint Martin’s University on Feb. 13 at Whatcom Community College. It will be the second-to-last home game of the year.