Western Washington University women’s basketball team lost their 10-game winning streak on Thursday night in their game against Central Washington University at Sam Carver Gymnasium. The final score was 68-76.
The last three games for the Vikings were postponed due to health and safety protocols, and Thursday’s game was the second game this season with a “no fan policy.” Fans won’t be allowed to attend indoor sporting events at Carver Gym through Jan. 23.
The team lost their senior guard, Dani Iwami, after she suffered a knee injury just moments into the start of the game. Iwami held 10th place for the most 3-pointers made in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference as well as 14th place for most assists.
Senior guard Monique Fierke said this week has been emotionally exhausting as the team has been fighting with administration to get the regulations to meet athletes’ desires while also losing Iwami to the injury.
Despite losing Iwami, Western still had a higher 3-point percentage of 31.8% to Central’s 26.3%.
“While we don’t know the full extent of the injury to Dani, that was really tough for us,” head coach Carmen Dolfo said. “She is the heart of our team, in addition to being a really great leader and player. She is such a wonderful person, and it was hard to see that happen to her.”
Western had more rebounds compared to Central, but the Vikings also turned the ball over more times resulting in 25 points for their opponent. Central dominated the game, bettering the Vikings in both shooting and free throw percentages.
The Vikings never led in the game and constantly had to fight back as Central led at the end of each quarter.
With about three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, senior guard Emma Duff scored a layup, putting Western within two points of Central, 66-68.
Going into the game, Duff was seventh in scoring average in the GNAC, averaging 14 points per game and tied for fourth in rebounds with an average of seven-and-a-half rebounds per game. Duff ended the game with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Sophomore center Carley Zaragoza, who was second in the GNAC for field goal percentage heading into Thursday’s game, was six-for-nine shooting from the field, scoring 13 points.
Junior guard Mollie Olson scored 11 points and had four rebounds.
“Second half, we really stepped it up, and we never gave up,” Olson said. “So I think we need to take that and use it in our next game we play.”
With the Jan. 13 loss, the Vikings are now third in the GNAC standings with a conference record of 2-1, an overall record of 10-1 and a home record of 3-1.
“We were prepared for last night and played extremely hard,” Dolfo said. “I am proud of how we battled back in the second half, especially with our defense. Central is a good team, and they gave us a great challenge. We will learn from that and prepare for our upcoming road games.”
Saturday’s game against Northwest Nazarene University was postponed due to safety and health protocols within the NNU program. The Vikings women’s basketball team travels to play their next game on Thursday, Jan. 20, at 7:00 p.m. against the current No. 1 team in the GNAC, University of Alaska Anchorage.
You can watch the Vikings at home again on Feb. 3 where they will take on Seattle Pacific University at 7:00 p.m. in Carver Gym.
“We’ve had a great season playing primarily on the road,” Dolfo said. “So I think we just continue to do what we’ve been doing and that is focus on our defense and how that leads to our offense. The GNAC is very tough with lots of good teams, and we'll have to prepare for every game knowing we are going to get each team's best shot.”
Taras McCurdie (he/him) is one of two copy editors for The Front this quarter. He is an aspiring sports journalist entering his final year at Western Washington University (WWU). Outside of school, you can find him freelancing for local newspapers, playing on the WWU club tennis team or running on the treadmill at the Rec Center. When chilling at night, he listens to throwback slow jams and ’90s hip-hop. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.