The Vikings’ men’s basketball team earned their seventh straight win on Thursday, Jan. 16 following an 82-66 rout of the Concordia University Cavaliers at Sam Carver Gymnasium.
Following the win, the Vikings improved to 11-4 overall and 6-1 against Great Northwest Athletic Conference opponents, good enough to remain in second place.
Concordia’s head coach, Rodrick Rhodes, was ejected from the contest following his second technical foul early in the second half. With assistant coach Rock Allen at the helm, the Cavaliers mounted a late game comeback, but the Vikings held on.
Jalen Green led the team with a monstrous effort. The sophomore forward recorded career-highs with 24 points, 13 rebounds and 10 made free throws; leading the team in each category. Green also recorded a steal and three blocks.
Vikings’ head coach Tony Dominguez shared high praise for Green in a post-game interview, “He’s been playing really under control. The way we start and the size that we have, either he or Trevor [Jasinsky] has a mismatch.”
“We need to continue to milk that, because guys will guard him and then we can find other guys,” said Dominguez.
Senior forward Cameron Retherford led the Vikings with four blocks, all of which galvanized his teammates and the crowd.
“Big blocks always get us energized,” Retherford said. “It’s a big momentum swing. I knew one of those games was going to come since I haven’t had too many blocks this season.
Western leads the Great Northwest Athletic Conference with 5.1 team blocks per game, which they reinforced by totaling 11 on the evening, a season-high for the team.
“This team couldn’t compete with us talentwise and that was pretty obvious,” Retherford said.
Frustration by Concordia’s players led to late fouls that helped Western seal the game at the free throw line.
Western held the lead for just over 36 of the 40-minute contest, tallying as high as a 22-point advantage midway through the second half. Scoring efforts from senior forward Siaan Rojas (16), freshman guard D’Angelo Minnis (11) and senior forward Cameron Rutherford (11) helped seal the victory.
Both teams were extremely physical defensively and Concordia placed heavy emphasis on double-teams to try and trap the Vikings’ shooters. Despite this, Green had no problem picking apart his opponents’ defensive strategy.
“When you’re getting double-teamed, they’re coming at you fast,” Green said. “If you slow down and have teammates you can trust, like I do, it’s not a problem.”
The Vikings did just that, both eluding double-teams and drawing fouls. Western converted on 78% of their whopping 50 free throw opportunities, marking the most attempts by a Western team in any GNAC match up.
Western still managed to get easy buckets throughout the contest, scoring 32 of their 82 points on drives to the basket while Concordia had only 14.
Retherford, similarly to Green, said that a patient offense and allowing for shots to come to them was key in defeating the Cavaliers.
The Vikings managed to hold Concordia to just 29.4 percent shooting overall and 25.8 percent from 3-point range. Even though Western had six more turnovers and shot just 17.6 percent from the 3-point arc, the Vikings’ 42.6 percent shooting overall was enough of an advantage to emerge victorious.
On Thursday, Jan. 23 Western begins a four-game road trip with a match against Seattle Pacific University who lead the GNAC with an 8-0 conference record and are tied with the Vikings at 12-4 overall. The Falcons won 12 in a row after starting the season 0-4. Two days later on Saturday, Jan. 25 the Vikings head to Lacey to take on in-state opponent Saint Martin’s University.