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Bellingham
Thursday, May 13, 2021

Vikings collapse, look forward to playoff clinching game

Western still sits in the sixth position in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference following a 58-51 loss to Seattle Pacific University Thursday night at the Royal Brougham Pavilion in Seattle.

Western has two scenarios to clinch the no. 6 seed in the GNAC Tournament. The first is to win against Saint Martin’s University on Saturday, Feb. 27. The second scenario is that if Saint Martin’s beats the Vikings, Western can still clinch the no. 6 seed if Northwest Nazarene University loses to University of Alaska, and Central Washington University beats University of Alaska-Anchorage.

Western’s offense struggled without team captain Ricardo Maxwell, one of its leading scorers. Maxwell, who averages 16.1 points per game, was out with a concussion

Maxwell’s absence forced changes to the starting rotation, redshirt freshman Trey Drechsel said.

“We learned about [Maxwell] on Tuesday so we had switch the game plan up. I had been playing power forward [but] played point guard today. It was a little change of pace for everybody,” Drechsel said. “I think we handled it well. We just didn’t make some plays when we needed it.”

Maxwell hoped to be cleared for the regular season finale against Saint Martin’s this Saturday. Maxwell said he was feeling okay but is still experiencing spotty headaches.

“I try to lead them on and off the court,” Maxwell said. “It was a good, hard-fought battle by our team.”

Seattle Pacific took the lead in the beginning and never let go. The Falcons had a double-digit lead just after the midway point of the first half.

Drechsel scored Western’s first eight points of the game. He led the team with a game high 15 points and eight rebounds.

“They are a good team … They play really well together so that is what we were preparing for,” Drechsel said.

The Seattle Pacific defense held Western to just 21 points in the first half. Western’s shooting ability wavered,  shooting only 29 percent from the field and going 2-12 from three-point range.

The Vikings were held scoreless in the last four minutes of the first half. The Falcons took their biggest lead of the game, ending on an 8-0 run. The score at the half was 33-21.

Western battled back in the second half when Drechsel hit a three-pointer to pull within one. Only 10 minutes remained in the second half.

The Viking offense bounced back in the second half, going 13-28 from the field and 4-8 from three-point range but could not staunch the Falcons momentum.

With only a little over a minute remaining, Kyle Impero hit another three-point shot to bring Western within a single possession at 54-51. The Vikings defense tightened, forcing Seattle Pacific into taking a difficult three point shot. In the ensuing scramble, Seattle Pacific came up with the offensive rebound and forced a Western foul.

With under 30 seconds to play the Falcons were able to seal the deal two free throws.

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