By Jordan Stone
The Western women’s basketball team fought to the very last whistle but were no match for the University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championship game on Saturday, March 8, losing 89-68.
After the game, Western’s athletic director Steve Card was quick to praise the team and their efforts.
“Incredibly proud; we’re not done yet,” he said. “It’s been a great season and we are going to keep fighting all the way through.”
The Vikings’ season isn’t over, they were selected as the seventh seed in the West Regional. They will travel to Honolulu, Hawai‘i where they will have a rematch against two-seed Alaska Anchorage.
That fighting spirit instilled in all of Western’s athletic teams, but women’s basketball head coach Carmen Dolfo is the catalyst, Card said. Even with the Vikings down by over 20 and Anchorage dribbling out the clock, Dolfo was screaming at her players to keep fighting.
“We are a very competitive program,” Card said. “All of our teams fight until the end, but Carmen sets the bar for everyone else when it comes to that.”
Saturday’s championship game against the Vikings was circled on the calendar of Anchorage head coach Ryan McCarthy.
“This was a matchup that we were looking forward to because Western was the team that beat us in league,” he said during the postgame press conference. “We have a lot of respect for them. They are a very good team.”
The Vikings hung with Anchorage in the first quarter, trailing by six after the first period. The Seawolves, who only lost two games all year — one of which was to Western on Jan. 23 — started to pull away in the second quarter. Anchorage went into halftime leading 43-27.
The Vikings looked for a moment like they might get themselves back into the game. They put together a 13-4 run that cut the Seawolves lead to eight with under four minutes to go in the third quarter, but that was the closest the Vikings would get.
Anchorage pulled away to end the third quarter, never looking back and claiming the GNAC title for the fourth time in the last six years.
“It was kind of our night, offensively,” McCarthy said. “We hit some shots where it would be a busted play and threw up a left-handed hook shot and it would go in for us tonight.”
Junior guard Madison Coleman provided a spark for the Vikings off the bench, converting on her first three 3-point attempts. She finished the game as the Vikings’ third leading scorer with 10 points, behind Kelsey Rogers’ 14 and Lexie Bland’s 13.
After the Vikings’ semifinal win over Northwest Nazarene University, Dolfo was quick to compliment both Anchorage and their semifinal opponent Central Washington University while they waited to see who they would play in the final.
“They are both great teams,” Dolfo said. “They both have really good shooters and really good post play. They both play super hard.”
The Vikings hope they learned enough about Anchorage during Saturday’s final to come away with a different result at regionals.