Kelsey Rogers, Mollie Olson propelled team to victory
The Western Washington University women’s basketball team defeated the Saint Martin’s University Saints 83-74 Saturday, Feb. 27, in their first home game at Sam Carver Gymnasium in 368 days.
Thanks to large contributions from senior forward Kelsey Rogers and junior guard Mollie Olson, the Vikings have now won back-to-back games, moving their record to 2-0 with only four games left to play in the shortened season.
It was Western’s first home game since Feb. 25, 2020, and Carmen Dolfo, Western’s head women’s basketball coach, said it felt great to get back out there.
“My players are so excited, you see smiles on their faces,” Dolfo said. “I think they’re just really enjoying it.”
The game started off close in the first quarter, with the lead bouncing back-and-forth between either team. Western began to pull away in the second quarter, exploding onto a 16-2 run.
Olson attributed the scoring onslaught to their coach’s motivation.
“She said that we need to play hard because we only get six games, and why take a break when you have such limited time,” Olson said.
Olson has stuffed the stat sheet over the past two games, pouring in averages of 16 points, 5 rebounds and 3.5 assists. She scored 17 points in their first victory over Saint Martin’s the night prior on Friday, Feb. 26, setting a new career-high.
Olsen received the Great Northwest Athletic Conference women’s basketball player of the week for her performance over the last two games.
“Everyone is just confident and having fun,” Olson said. “I think that’s why we’re playing well. We’re just relaxed.”
Rogers was a menace down low in the paint, bullying her way to double-double which included a team-high 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Rogers said it wasn’t part of the game plan to get her more touches down low, and their guards made her life easy by giving her good looks at the basket.
Senior guard Emma Duff also contributed 14 points, and the Vikings received welcome help off the bench: Junior forward Katrina Gimmaka added 10 points on 4-8 shooting and senior guard Gracie Castaneda lit it up from outside with three 3-pointers.
“One of my favorite things about our team is just the balance,” Rogers said. “You can take out one person and everyone else will step up.”
The Vikings had a hard time slowing down Saint Martin’s junior guard, Claire Dingus, in the first half. However, Dolfo said she was satisfied with the effort her team put toward stopping Dingus later in the game.
“In the second half we wanted to dictate where she went a little bit more, and I think they did a good job of that,” Dolfo said.
Saint Martin’s was down just four points with two minutes remaining, but a steal and score on the other end by Olson put a nail in the Saints’ coffin.
Western returns to Carver Gyn Friday, March 5, to take on 7-5 Seattle Pacific University. They will then travel to Seattle the following day, March 6, to play them again. Seattle Pacific, along with Saint Martin’s, were two of only four universities in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference to opt-in to the conference season on Nov. 13, 2020. Seattle Pacific began playing games Jan. 11, which is why they already have 12 games under their belt.
No fans are allowed to be admitted to the games. However, you can catch all of the basketball team’s games via Western’s YouTube livestream.
Dolfo said for the next game they need to work on being more active on the boards and create a little more movement offensively, along with stronger defense.
“We get six games, so we need to work hard in every moment,” Dolfo said. “Everything we get to do is precious.”