The Western Washington University Vikings men’s basketball team played against Concordia University Irvine Eagles at Sam Carver Gymnasium on Friday, Nov. 19 for their first home game, winning 87-77.
The game began with the jump ball being tipped by the Vikings and falling into the hands of the Eagles. The first basket of the game was a three-pointer made by the Eagles, but immediately the Vikings fired back with a breakaway basket for two points.
The Eagles held an early lead that was quickly cut short by Western junior guard Daniel Hornbuckle and junior guard Lucas Holden scoring multiple three-pointers. The Vikings began to pull away, a 22-point lead.
The game went into halftime with a Western lead of 49-31.
Going into the second half the Eagles were putting up a fight, closing the gap with a 6-0 string of points, giving the Vikings only a four-point lead.
“It’s all about staying calm and being able to be reliable for your teammates for moments when they get a little spacey, frazzled and getting a little rushed,” junior forward Jalen Green said. “You just gotta be able to stay calm as a senior and a captain and be able to deliver in clutch moments.”
Western senior forward Luke Lovelady scored the first points of the half with a layup, 26 seconds into the half.
Wayne Arnold, Concordia junior guard, quickly followed Lovelady with a quick score of his own at the 21st minute of the game.
Hornbuckle caught a missed Concordia shot, which led to a score by fifth-year guard R.J. Secrest at the 22nd minute.
Senior guard D’Angelo Minnis hit a layup after juking multiple Concordia defenders in the 24th minute. A timeout was taken at 15:26 left of the half, with a 59-40 Western lead.
Arnold missed a slam dunk attempt, clanging the ball off the rim at the 25th minute.
With the ball in the air, Lovelady took down a Concordia defender trying to leap for the ball. Lovelady got called for the foul at the 25th minute.
After a timeout, Concordia exploded out of the break with six unanswered points, before Minnis broke the streak with a layup at the 27th minute.
Minnis worked his way through to the key when he passed it to Western senior forward Dakota Ayala for a score from close. Ayala was a perfect five-for-five on field goal attempts and tied the team lead in rebounds with six.
Concordia Redshirt junior forward Kayle Knuckles made up for his teammate’s earlier miss and hit a slam dunk at the 29th minute.
Concordia called a timeout with 3:45 left of the half; Vikings led 75-67.
The desperation showed for Concordia, who exploded out of the timeout, sprinting up the court and passing with intensity.
Knuckles quickly scores first out of the timeout with a three-pointer.
The game finished with a score of 87-77.
Five of Western’s athletes scored points in the double digits. The top scorer was Green with a total of 18 points, followed closely by Hornbuckle and Minnis with 14 points each.
In addition to points, Green led the team in rebounds with six and four blocks.
“It feels really good after a year of COVID-19,” Green said. “We had a great crowd and fan support; it’s always a great atmosphere.”
Henry Burns is a Public Relations student and reporter for The Front. His work focuses on local sports. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.