Western men’s basketball remains unblemished in GNAC play
By Tyler Urke
It was a tale of two halves for the Western men’s basketball team, as it raced out to a 24-point lead in the first half only to give most of it back to the Yellowjackets in the second.
“I think when you get up by 24 there’s a tendency to coast a little bit,” junior guard Trey Drechsel said. “We knew they were going to make a run.”
But the Vikings shot a blistering 59 percent from the field and held on to earn a 100-91 road victory over Montana State University Billings on Saturday, Jan. 13. Western rattled off its eighth consecutive win and improved to 13-3 overall and 8-0 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
Drechsel was on fire all night as he went for a game-high 26 points and added eight rebounds, five steals, five assists and a block. He was 8 for 11 from the field and a perfect 9 for 9 from the free-throw line.
“My teammates found me in good spots all night,” Drechsel said. “I got two quick buckets and that put me in a rhythm.”
Six Vikings finished in double figures including starters sophomore forward Daulton Hommes with 17 points and senior forward Deandre Dickson with 16 points.
Western’s bench play ignited a 28-12 run in the final nine minutes of the first half. Redshirt junior guard/forward Siaan Rojas led all bench scorers with 13 points, but the Vikings also got contributions from sophomore forward Trevor Jasinsky with 12 points and senior guard Brett Kingma with 10 points.
Rojas was huge at the end of the game as he drained 4 of 5 free throws down the stretch after starting 1 for 4.
“Siaan could be the best player on any team in the GNAC,” Drechsel said.
It’s no surprise that the team picked in the preseason coaches poll by seven of 11 coaches to repeat as GNAC champion has a star-studded roster. MSUB’s head coach Jamie Stevens noted Western’s talent in his postgame interview.
“It was good for us to measure ourselves against them,” Stevens said. “That’s a team that can win a national championship.”
Despite allowing the Yellowjackets to make a comeback in the second half, Western head coach Tony Dominguez said he was proud of his team’s approach to the game.
“I felt as though our guys were mentally focused,” Dominguez said. “They were very efficient and played with great energy.”
Western’s next test will be an Alaskan doubleheader against the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the University of Alaska Anchorage on Jan. 18 and 20.