By Jordan Stone
The Western women’s basketball team put together yet another dominating performance Saturday, Jan. 25 at Sam Carver Gymnasium, pummeling last-place University of Alaska Fairbanks, 88-47. The highlight of the night was delivered by senior forward Anna Schwecke, who scored her 1,000th career point.
The milestone basket came with just over nine minutes remaining in the second quarter. Schwecke cut inside, evading a defender, when guard Lexie Bland found her an easy left-handed layup.
“[I’m] so proud of her,” head coach Carmen Dolfo said of Schwecke. “She is one of those tireless workers, and she is so humble and never complains. She is just a great girl.”
That humility was on display postgame, when Schwecke said that she didn’t even realize the milestone was coming up until her teammate, junior guard Emma Duff, mentioned it to her Friday.
Schwecke was able to add to her historic night by terrorizing Fairbanks defenders with 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting. She also shared a team-high of seven rebounds, along with two steals and three blocks. Schwecke leads the Great Northwest Athletic Conference in field-goal percentage, shooting a staggering 68.2% from the field, and is now second in scoring average with 15.6 points per game after Saturday’s game.
Schwecke wasn’t the only Viking front court player to turn in a big night. Freshman center Carley Zaragoza set new career highs in both points and rebounds Saturday. Before fouling out late in the fourth quarter, she put up 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting, with seven rebounds.
“[Carley] is honestly unstoppable when she wants to be,” Schwecke said. “As a freshman coming up, that was huge for her.”
The Vikings dominated many statistical categories Saturday. Perhaps the most impressive was points in the paint. The Vikings outscored Fairbanks 50-16 in that category, as well as out-rebounding them 53-32.
“It was a fight the whole time,” Zaragoza said. “It was a tough physical game. I went in and did what I was told to do which was crash [the boards] hard and play good defense.”
The Vikings were impressive yet again on defense, showing why they are one of the top defensive teams in the GNAC. Following Saturday’s game, the Vikings rank third in the GNAC in scoring defense. Western managed to force 19 Fairbanks turnovers, 13 of which came on Viking steals, and blocked six shots.
Western is 6-1 over its last seven games, including winning three straight. The Vikings managed to upset University of Alaska Anchorage, ranked fourth in the nation by the D2SIDA Media Poll, on Jan. 23 and beat Northwest Nazarene University (who sit second in the GNAC standings) on Jan. 18. Three of those six victories have been by at least 40 points.
The Vikings will look to build on their hot streak when they host Concordia University on Thursday, Jan. 30 before taking on Western Oregon University on Saturday, Feb. 1.
The Vikings blew out Concordia on Jan. 4, 88-41, but fell to current ninth place Western Oregon in heartbreaking fashion, losing 73-70 in double overtime back on Jan. 2.
“We have a little bit of revenge [planned] for Western Oregon,” Schwecke said. “This is going to be a big week for us.”
Coach Dolfo is expecting a couple of tough games for her team this week, but she offered simple expectations for the Vikings as they look to avenge their Jan. 2 loss to Western Oregon.
“Play more intensely, play better defense and play with more confidence,” she said.