Junior forward Cameron Retherford's points and rebounds double-double against the Wolves was a big part of the Vikings' 10-point win. // Photo by Emily Porter
By Mitch Farley
The men’s basketball team won its second-to-last regular season game against No. 4 Western Oregon University on Thursday, Feb. 28. The Vikings are currently tied for fifth place with two other teams in the league, and only the top six teams will move on to the postseason.
The win was critical for the Vikings’ standings, as they are currently tied with Montana State University Billings and Simon Fraser University. Each team has a 9-10 in-conference record. As with most critical games, emotions were high. The Wolves’ coach was given a warning for arguing with the referees within a few minutes of the game beginning.
Junior guard Tucker Eenigenburg led the way for the Vikings on offense with 20 points. He also pulled down eight rebounds.
“I crashed the boards, got some big offensive rebounds and just played my role,” Eenigenburg said.
Starting senior guard Tyler Payne played only 15 minutes of the game. Head coach Tony Dominguez said Payne got into foul trouble early on. Payne had four fouls on the night. His time at point guard was supplemented by redshirt freshman RJ Secrest. Secrest rose to the occasion, scoring 11 points.
“We’ve had a lot of confidence in him, he’s young. Tonight it was his turn,” Dominguez said.
Junior forward Trevor Jasinsky also commended Secrest on his performance.
“He grew up tonight. He went out there and played confident. You could tell there wasn’t a doubt in his mind, and we all saw that confidence and rode with it,” Jasinsky said.
The game got off to a slow start, but quickly heated up. With about 10 minutes remaining in the first half, the Wolves tried to push down the court quickly after a 3-pointer from redshirt junior guard Leif Anderson, but Jasinsky sprinted back to make a block.
After that Jasinsky got a steal at mid court and fed the ball to Eenigenburg on the baseline for a 3-pointer. On the Vikings’ next possession Eenigenburg hit another 3-pointer, giving them a five-point lead.
Jasinsky said that was a clear turning point in the game and the momentum definitely shifted in their favor after that. The Vikings proceeded to go on an 11-point run, a lead they would keep for the remainder of the night.
It was a whistle-sensitive night and junior center Cameron Retherford took advantage of it, driving into the key near the end of the first half for a monstrous slam dunk and drawing a foul for the and-1. A few plays later Retherford swatted a layup from a Wolves’ guard so hard the ball flew into the bleachers. Retherford had a game-high 11 rebounds.
“[Jasinsky] and [Retherford] did a great job on the glass. [Retherford] stepped up and was attacking the glass really well,” Eenigenburg said.
The Vikings are looking towards their next game on Saturday, March 2. It’s the last game in the regular season and will double as senior night. The game is against Concordia University at 7 p.m. in Sam Carver Gymnasium. The outcome of the game will play a large part in determining whether the Vikings make it into the GNAC tournament, which they will be hosting this year.
“The mindset is just now or never,” Jasinsky said. “[Because] we know we belong in [postseason]. We know once we get in there, we can be the most dangerous team, especially at home. We know that no team wants to see us then.”
This game brief was updated with more information on Saturday, March 2. For more coverage on Western athletics follow @WFSportsLive on Twitter.