By Jordan Stone
Senior guard Lexie Bland led the Vikings with solid all-around play to their second lopsided win over Concordia this season. Bland has now scored double digits in points for the eighth consecutive game, after putting up 13 points in the win over Concordia University on Thursday Jan. 30.
“Senior year, that’s what happens,” junior guard Emma Duff said, regarding Bland. “She has been doing it all for us and we are really lucky to have her.”
Being an all-around player is something that Bland said she takes pride in and her statistics back that up.
“I want to go out there and leave everything I have every game,” Bland said.
Over her last eight games, she has been averaging 1.5 steals and 3.8 assists along with 11.8 points. Over those eight games the Vikings have gone 7-1, the only loss to Central Washington University on Jan. 11.
Bland said that the key to their recent run of success has been attacking the basket and playing with confidence, as well as the belief in her ability to score on offense.
That belief infects the entire team. The Vikings’ 77-53 win over Concordia marked their fourth win in a row and eighth in a row at Sam Carver Gymnasium.
“Having our home crowd definitely helps a ton,” junior guard Gracie Castaneda said in a postgame interview on Western’s webcast. “The energy in the gym has been so great.”
The Vikings rode several strong performances, which is exactly how they want it to be. Over their last seven victories, the Vikings have had at least five different players contribute a minimum of five points, including ten different players against Concordia back on Jan. 4.
“We know that everyone on our team can score,” Duff said. “It can be anyone’s night, any given night.”
Junior forward Kelsey Rogers was one of many Vikings’ standouts, scoring 12 points to go along with seven rebounds. Freshman center Carley Zaragoza had her second straight impressive game, scoring 12 points, eight of which came from the free throw line.
Duff was spectacular on both ends of the floor for the Vikings. The junior guard scored 19 points in the first half on 7-of-10 shooting, including 3-of-4 from behind the 3-point line. She was held scoreless in the second half, but still finished with seven rebounds, a steal and a block.
“I think she just caught the ball ready to shoot,” head coach Carmen Dolfo said. “I think our team did a good job of finding her in the first half.”
The Vikings were solid once again on defense. Western managed 14 steals against Concordia, tied for their third-highest total of the year. Western previously set their season-high with 18 steals when they last played Concordia.
Anna Schwecke had an uncharacteristically quiet night Thursday, failing to score and sitting out the entire second half due to injury.
“She has got some feet issues,” Dolfo said. “We wanted to make sure she is rested for Saturday.”
The Vikings hope Thursday’s second half is the only time Schwecke misses as they approach the final part of their regular season schedule. Schwecke is the Vikings leader in points per game, rebounds per game, blocks per game and minutes per game.
Any significant missed time for Schwecke would be a huge blow as the Vikings look to make some noise in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Tournament.