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Friday, January 15, 2021

Senior Night success for women’s basketball

Teammates, fans and coaching staff pay tribute to seniors Anna Schwecke and Lexie Bland in 95-66 victory over Simon Fraser

Western guards Lexie Bland and Avery Dykstra sharing a hug before their game on Feb. 25. // Photo by Alix Condit

By Connor J. Benintendi

Western’s women’s basketball team throttled the Simon Fraser University Clan 95-66 Tuesday, Feb. 25 at Sam Carver Gymnasium during the team’s Senior Night. 

Following the win, the Vikings now hold sole ownership of third place in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, with a 13-6 in conference play and a 19-8 overall record.

The team’s two seniors, center Anna Schwecke and guard Lexie Bland, shared an embrace and received a standing ovation from the crowd when they checked out of the game for the final time on their home court. Western was up 91-61 at the time with just over a minute left to play in the fourth quarter. 

Western guard Mollie Olson (32) attempting a layup at senior night on Feb. 25. // Photo by Alix Condit

“It was really special,” Bland said. “Our whole team is close, so coming to the bench and getting to acknowledge everyone, it makes it even more special to share it with the group of people that I have.”

Western’s head coach Carmen Dolfo said the moment was bittersweet and knows they have plenty more basketball to play this year.

“Both of them work incredibly hard,” she said. “They’re great teammates and such amazing people. I think they love each other and I think they really love their team. They played a great game and it was a great way for them to finish their career in the gym, but they want to keep playing.”

Schwecke and Bland said the emotions of playing their final game at home hadn’t set in before the game started.

“It’s a weird feeling,” Schwecke said during a postgame interview. “Three years here went by pretty fast, so it’s definitely hitting now that it’s over.”

Schwecke also said she’s not worried about freshman center Carley Zaragoza’s ability to step into an elevated role for the 2021 season. Zaragoza played just under five minutes in the game but still managed eight points and three rebounds. 

“Carley [Zaragoza] is already killing it,” Schwecke said. “She’s an amazing player; she’s so strong and so composed. She’s going to do amazing.”

Both seniors contributed solid performances as Bland tallied 17 points, seven assists, four rebounds and two blocks, while Schwecke totaled 10 points, six rebounds and two steals. 

It was junior guard Emma Duff, though, who scored Western’s first eight points of the game and recorded an 11-point, 12-rebound double-double in the first half alone. Duff finished with a game-high 18 points, 15 rebounds and career-high six assists. She also nabbed two steals and two blocks. 

Junior forward Kelsey Rogers recorded her third-straight double-digit scoring effort with 14 points and five rebounds. Western saw all 11 of their active players score at least two points, with the only inactive Viking being red-shirt junior guard Dani Iwami. 

Simon Fraser scored the first two points of the game, but Western pulled ahead just before the two-minute mark in the first quarter and played with the lead for the remainder of the game. The Vikings controlled as high as a 33-point lead late in the third quarter.

Western erupted for a season-high 95 points, topping their per-game team average for the season by 20 points. The Vikings made 51.5% of their shots, while Simon Fraser converted on just 36.1%. 

The Vikings played suffocating defense, snatching 16 steals to Simon Fraser’s eight.  The Vikings also had nine blocks to the Clan’s four while pulling down 21 more rebounds.

Western will finish their season with an 11-1 home record. The team traveled to Billings, Montana, on Feb. 27 to close out the regular season, earning their first 20-win season since 2016-17. 

Next, the Vikings will play at Seattle Pacific University in the GNAC Championships which go from Thursday, March 5, to Saturday, March 7.

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