The women’s championship in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference proved to be a tough battle, with the Western women’s basketball team falling to University of Alaska Anchorage in the second half.
The final score ended at 79-70 Saturday, March 4, at the Marcus Pavilion in Lacey.
The Vikings finished second in both the regular season and GNAC tournament behind Alaska Anchorage in both.
Western held a 33-31 lead going into halftime, but couldn’t hang on in the second half as Alaska Anchorage closed the gap and took the lead.
Senior guard Taylor Peacocke said the game was decided by defense.
“That’s a great team,” Peacocke said. “It came down to turnovers. We didn’t get the stops we needed to.”
“We gave them too many second chances. We had a lot of unforced errors and we lost possessions.”
Senior forward Tia Briggs also emphasized the role defense played in the end score.
“We had a few too many defensive breakdowns which they capitalized on,” Briggs said. “They’re a good team.”
Alaska Anchorage scored 18 points off turnovers while forcing a total of 16.
The Vikings found themselves in two different 10-point deficits throughout the game, and then one of 13 points in the fourth quarter.
Senior forward Kiana Gandy led the team with two blocks on defense, but it wasn’t enough to hold off the Seawolves’ attack.
“We gave them too many second chances,” Gandy said. “We had a lot of unforced errors and we lost possessions.”
Peacocke led the Vikings offense, scoring a team-high 22 points. Gandy contributed 15 points, while Briggs scored 14.
Senior guard Jessica Valley led the team with eight rebounds.
Peacocke’s performance proved to be record setting, since she not only broke the GNAC single-season record for points scored, but also put together the first ever 700-point season in GNAC women’s basketball history.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Peacocke said. “I’m definitely proud of what I’ve done. I’ve put a lot of work in and my team has done a great job of getting me the ball.”
With the GNAC championship loss, the Vikings officially wrapped up their conference play, finishing with a 25-5 overall record.
The Vikings were selected as the third seed in the NCAA Division II West Regional. They will play sixth seed Cal State East Bay at noon Friday, March 10, in Anchorage, Alaska.
“We just have to stay focused and get ready for the next one,” Peacocke said.
The postseason doesn’t guarantee a next game to any team, which is something the Vikings are aware of.
“We have to go in with the confidence that we’re going to win, and the determination we have to win in order to keep going,” Briggs said.