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Western women’s basketball team throttles Saint Martin’s

After leading at the end of each quarter, and in addition to it being senior night, the Vikings win their last home game of the regular season

Senior guard Gracie Castaneda (#22) shooting the ball against Saint Martin’s University at Carver Gym, Bellingham, Wash. on Feb. 22, 2022. Castaneda, along with seniors Dani Iwami and Emma Duff were celebrated before the game for senior night. // Courtesy of Christian Serwold

Western Washington University women’s basketball team improves to 18-3 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference with a 33-point win over Saint Martin’s University at Sam Carver Gymnasium on Tuesday night. The final score was 81-48. 

This was a makeup game from Jan. 1 that was postponed due to health and safety protocols within the SMU program. 

In the first quarter, Western started out strong, shooting 10-19 in field goals and 2-4 in 3-pointers. The Vikings led 23-14 at the end of the first quarter with junior forward Katrina Gimmaka scoring 10 points and shooting 5-7 from the field. 

During the second quarter Western continued their strong defense, only allowing Saint Martin’s to score two points while the Vikings added 16 points, resulting in a 23-point lead and ending the half leading 39-16. 

Gimmaka had 12 points in the first half and was 6-9 from the field. Freshman guard Riley Dykstra scored eight points and was 3-5 for field goals and 2-2 on 3-pointers. And senior guard Emma Duff added seven points while shooting 3-6 from the field and 1-2 for 3-pointers. 

Junior forward Katrina Gimmaka (#20) shooting the ball against Saint Martin’s University at Carver Gym, Bellingham, Wash. on Feb. 22, 2022. She scored 18 points, shot 8-14 from the field, had nine rebounds and was 2-2 on free throws. // Courtesy of Eric Becker

“I think we knew Saint Martin’s was still a good team,” Duff said about the adjustments the team made at halftime. “We just had to make sure that our defense was still locked down like it was in the first half.”

Women’s head coach Carmen Dolfo said they knew SMU was going to make a comeback, but the team needed to focus on playing really great defense in the first five minutes in the third quarter so that it didn’t allow the opponent to get that confidence to come back. 

SMU had a higher field goal percentage than Western in the third quarter shooting 55.56% from the field to the Viking’s 26.32%. Western shot 63.64% from the free throw line with Duff scoring all four of her free throws after Saint Martin’s senior guard Tierney DeDonatis received two consecutive technical fouls and was ejected with about 33 seconds remaining in the third quarter. 

The fourth quarter was dominated by the Vikings as they shot 9-14 from the field and 5-9 in 3-pointers. 

With just less than two minutes left in the game, the Vikings had the biggest lead of the night beating SMU by 36 points, 79-43. A few moments later, they would have another 36-point lead dominating Saint Martin’s 81-45.  

The game would end with Western winning 81-48. They had 40 rebounds to SMU’s 27, the Vikings scored 21 points off turnovers to SMU’s 10 and Western scored 38 points in the paint to SMU’s 30.   

Gimmaka ended with 18 points, nine rebounds and two steals while Dykstra added 10 points and got five rebounds. 

Going into the game, Duff was sixth in scoring average in the GNAC, averaging 15.5 points per game. She was also eighth in rebounds averaging seven rebounds per game, seventh in blocked shots and fourth in free throw percentage. Duff ended the game with 16 points, seven rebounds and was 4-4 from the free throw line. 

Sophomore center Carley Zaragoza was first in the GNAC coming into this game for field goal percentage, averaging 58.4%. She ended the game scoring nine points, shooting 4-9 from the field and getting three rebounds. 

“I thought we played really good defense tonight,” Dolfo said. “The big thing we did was we shared the basketball. We didn’t panic. We just really were confident with the ball and found the open person.” 

Women’s basketball win against Saint Martin’s on senior night  BODY 2

 Senior guard Emma Duff (#12) shooting the ball in the paint against Saint Martin’s University at Carver Gym, Bellingham, Wash. on Feb. 22, 2022. The Vikings won their last home game of the regular season 81-48.  // Courtesy of Michael Potash

This was the last home game of the regular season, and the Vikings celebrated three senior guards: Dani Iwami, Emma Duff and Gracie Castaneda.

“This wasn’t obviously how I wanted to spend my senior night,” Iwami said, referring to the season-ending leg injury she suffered in Western’s loss to Central Washington University on Jan. 13. “But it’s more about the journey, and I’m so grateful I’ve been able to be a part of this program for five years. I like all the memories, all the wins, all the ups and downs [and] every bit of it. It’s special and I’m really grateful for today,” she said. 

Duff said it was an exciting game as the team shared the ball very well and that when the team starts flowing, they are really hard to stop.

Of the 81 points made by the Vikings, every player on the team scored.  

“We’ve been through so much together,” Castaneda said. “And it’s just so special we all celebrate each other’s accomplishments and successes. We’re always there for each other, [and] we’re so excited. And tonight was just one of those good nights.” 

The Vikings play their last game of the regular season against Simon Fraser University on Saturday, Feb. 26, in Burnaby, British Columbia.  

“I think this was a good game before we have to go up there,” Duff said. “Simon is playing well right now. So having this game under our belt I think is a good thing going into Saturday.”

Taras McCurdie

Taras McCurdie is an aspiring sports journalist who writes for the Front. He is a news/editorial major with a focus in sports reporting. He writes about WWU athletics and other sporting opportunities in the area. Outside of journalism, you can find him 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. 


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