By Jordan Stone
It was a statement victory for Western’s women’s basketball team Thursday, Jan. 9 at Sam Carver Gymnasium, where the Vikings dominated the Saint Martin’s University Saints from start to finish.
A stifling defensive effort was the key to the Vikings’ 93-47 rout of the Saints. The Vikings recorded 10 steals and nine blocks, while limiting SMU to just a 21.2 shooting percentage for the game. This was the Vikings’ second consecutive blowout victory after beating Concordia University 88-41 on Jan. 4. With the win over Saint Martin’s, the Vikings improved their record to 3-2 in conference play and 9-4 overall.
Early in the third quarter, senior guard Lexie Bland put to rest any hope of a Saints comeback when her defensive prowess gave the Vikings a boost of momentum. Following a foul by senior center Anna Schwecke, Bland stole the inbound pass for an easy layup. Bland continued to dominate when she stole the Saints’ next inbound pass, her third steal of the night, and drilled a three-point shot from the corner. The basket put the Vikings up 55-27 with just over seven minutes left in the third quarter.
“It changed the intensity of the game on our end,” Bland said. “I think it just showed how much our defense means to us.”
Bland wasn’t the only Viking who contributed on the defensive end. Dani Iwami matched a game high with three steals in just the first quarter, while Mollie Olson filled up the defensive stat sheet with four blocks and a steal.
That defense proved to be the spark for the Vikings’ offensive explosion. They scored a season high of 93 points on 53.3% shooting from the field, including 42.3% from the three-point arc.
“Our defense gets our offense going,” head coach Carmen Dolfo said. “Our players just shared the ball so well. I felt they did a really good job of finding the open person.”
It was a balanced offensive attack for the Vikings, who saw five players get into double digits, with 10 of 11 players scoring in the game. Schwecke and Madison Coleman, the leading scorers for the team, both scored 14 points. Both Bland and Kelsey Rogers had 10 points for the night, with Katrina Gimmaka contributing 11.
The Vikings were able to move the basketball effectively. Twenty-nine of their 40 made baskets came off of an assist. Olson led the Vikings in that category with seven.
“Our whole team is just so even,” said Schwecke, who had four assists of her own. “I trust every single player, so for us to share the ball like that is really exciting.”
The Vikings hit the road next week to face rival Central Washington University on Thursday, before continuing on to take on Northwest Nazarene University on Saturday. Central is 3-3 in conference play, while Northwest Nazarene is second in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference standings at 5-1.