By Walker Sacon
Trey Drechsel finished with 32 points and 17 rebounds as the Western men’s basketball team opened their conference season with a win over Concordia at Sam Carver Gymnasium on Thursday, Nov. 30.
The Vikings shot 57.6 percent from the field, outrebounded Concordia 50-25 and never trailed in the 99-72 win.
Head coach Tony Dominguez said opening Great Northwest Athletic Conference play with a win was important for the team.
“We don’t feel like we’ve been at our best. Tonight was a great opportunity, because it was the first game in league, to start anew,” Dominguez said.
Junior center Logan Schilder said the win was huge for the team coming off of two preseason losses.
The Vikings held Concordia’s leading scorer, junior point guard Jarrett Gray, to 11 points on 4-11 shooting in 38 minutes.
Western got off to a slow start before Schilder slammed home a lob pass from sophomore forward Daulton Hommes to which gave the team early momentum, triggering a 6-0 run.
Hommes said Drechsel’s performance helped the team get over the slow start offensively.
“We were a little bit rushed on offense and then, when Trey started getting hot, we kind of settled down,” Hommes said.
Drechsel scored 21 in the first half and hit three-out-of-four of Western’s 3-pointers in the period. His 32 points eclipsed his previous career scoring high of 27 against Concordia last January.
The Vikings’ second leading scorer, senior forward Deandre Dickson was limited to two points in five minutes in the first half by two early fouls. Dickson finished with nine points.
Dickson’s foul trouble forced the Vikings to play with smaller lineups, often using Hommes and sophomore guard Trevor Jasinsky on the interior.
Dominguez said the team decided to stick with the smaller lineups’ after getting into foul trouble and finding that their play was more cohesive on Thursday.
Schilder said the team has practiced playing with smaller lineups and is confident in their bench-play.
“Our starting lineup is huge, but we have so many different rotations. You can take anyone out of the starting lineup and sub in a smaller guy and we’re still going to be bigger than most teams,” Schilder said.
Drechsel said the increase in energy was partially due to an increase in trash talk from Concordia’s players.
Schilder, who finished with four blocks, agreed that the trash talk fueled the team’s play.
“That makes it so much more fun with the atmosphere that we have. Fans are great and when the other team starts talking it feels like real college basketball,” Schilder said.
Siaan Rojas had 11 points for the Vikings in 15 minutes off the bench.
Senior guard Blake Fernandez left the game with a right shoulder injury in the first half. Dominguez said he didn’t know the extent of the injury after the game and that the team would know more the next morning.
The Vikings play No. 13 Western Oregon University at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 2 at Carver. The matchup features the last two GNAC champions in a rematch of last year’s championship game.