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Dani Iwami provides spark to push Western ahead

Mollie Olson maneuvers her way inside the paint. Olson scored 14 points on the night, continuing her hot streak. // Courtesy of Christian Serwold

By Nathan Schumock

The Western Washington University women’s basketball team defeated the Seattle Pacific University Falcons 58-50 Friday, March 5, in a hard-fought defensive matchup at Sam Carver Gymnasium.

Western remains undefeated halfway through their shortened season as they move to 3-0 following the victory.

Both teams got off to a meager start, turning the ball over six times each in the first quarter. This led to a low-scoring 13-6 lead for Western at the period’s end.

Vikings junior guard, Mollie Olson, said in order to clean up the turnovers, Western needs to slow down the pace of their offense and be more patient with their looks at the basket.

Western's defense held steady while their offense sputtered, holding the Falcons to 2-11 shooting in the first quarter.

“Our defense was the [main] factor tonight, because our offense was definitely not flowing,” said Carmen Dolfo, Western’s head women’s basketball coach.

Olson and senior guard Emma Duff’s offensive contributions kept them afloat in the first half. In the first two quarters, Olson contributed 10 points and shot a perfect 3-3 from the field and 2-2 from the free-throw line. Duff lit up the second quarter, scoring seven of Western’s 14 points.

Dolfo said SPU did a good job of taking Western’s post players out of the game, causing Western to adjust their scheme.

“It took us a long time to recognize that we needed to catch the ball ready to shoot and not just pounding it inside,” Dolfo said.

After the half, SPU went on a 9-3 run to pull within one point of Western’s lead, but senior guard Dani Iwami dropped two 3-pointers out of the sky to keep the Vikings ahead.

“We started to share the ball a lot better and play within a flow,” Iwami said. “Once we start playing with each other, we make really good things happen.”

When Western played SPU Jan. 11, 2020, Iwami had her season cut short due to a torn ACL. She said it was nice to be a part of the win this time around.

Iwami had a well-rounded game, putting up totals of 16 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists while adding 2 blocks and a steal.

“Dani plays with a smile,” Dolfo said. “She’s a competitor and she likes the ball in high pressure situations; she doesn’t shy away from that.”

SPU crawled back into the game in the fourth quarter behind the strong play of junior guard Rachel Berg, who scored 10 points in the quarter. Western was able to match her play, as they found a groove offensively.

Dolfo said they were able to create more shots in the fourth by moving the ball more consistently, keeping the defense on their toes.

Western had foul trouble all game, with most of the calls falling in SPU’s favor. Dolfo said they need to work on being physical with their opponents so they can get to the stripe more often than the other team.

Next weekend, Western will play their final two games against the Central Washington University Wildcats who are yet to play a game this year. The Vikings will travel to Ellensburg Friday, March 12, then return home for their final game at Carver Gym Saturday, March 13.


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