FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 21, 2022

MEDIA CONTACT:
Jeff Evans
Western Washington University Athletic Department
Jeff.Evans@wwu.edu
(360) 650-6800
https://wwuvikings.com/

Vikings Advance to Final Four with Win over Valdosta State

The Western Washington University women’s basketball team has advanced to the Final Four in the NCAA Division II Championships with a 58-58 national quarterfinal victory over Valdosta State Monday evening at the Birmingham CrossPlex.

The No. 5 seed Vikings (24-5) overcame a 13-1 deficit to start the game and played tough defense down the stretch for the three-point victory over the No. 4 seed Lady Blazers (26-6). Western never led by more than four points in the game, but out-scored VSU 34-18 in the paint and held a decisive 39-26 rebounding advantage to advance to Wednesday’s Final Four.

Sophomore forward Brooke Walling led four Vikings in double-figure scoring with a 14-point, 11-rebound double-double on 7-for-13 shooting. Junior guard Mollie Olson added 11 points in 24 minutes and senior guard Emma Duff and freshman guard Riley Dykstra each contributed 10 points. Junior guard Avery Dykstra led the Vikings with five assists and Olson also had five steals and a blocked shot.

WWU moves on to play No. 1 seed North Georgia in the national semifinal round Wednesday with tip-off scheduled for 8:30 pm CT/6:30 pm PT in Bill Harris Arena. No. 2 Grand Valley State will face No. 3 Glenville State in the first semifinal Wednesday at 5 pm CT/3 pm PT. The games will be televised on the CBS Sports Network.

After trailing 13-1 in the first six minutes of the contest and facing their second-largest deficit of the season, the Vikings climbed back into the game to trail 19-12 through the first quarter. WWU then out-scored VSU 21-12 in the second quarter to take a 33-31 lead into halftime.

A defensive battle headlined the remainder of the game, with three tie scores and the largest point differential being a four-point WWU lead. The Vikings broke a 50-50 tie with just over five minutes remaining with a 4-0 run on back-to-back baskets by Walling and Dykstra. Valdosta State answered with a basket, but the Blazers only missed free throw of the game (18-for-19) kept the Vikings ahead by one point at 54-53 with 1:12 left. Dykstra hit a key three-pointer with 51-seconds remaining and then converted one-of-two free throws with four seconds on the clock to cushion the lead to three points.

Needing a three-pointer to tie, WWU’s defensive pressure forced a bad pass and turnover to record the three-point victory.

WWU shot 42.6-percent for the game (23-for-54), were 6-for-18 from beyond the arc (33.3%) and 6-for-12 from the free throw line. WWU’s defense limited Valdosta State to 17-for-50 shooting (34.0%), well below its season field goal percentage and the fifth-lowest shooting performance of the season. The Vikings suffocating defense was even tougher in the second half, limiting VSU to 6-for-24 shooting.

Nicole Heyn led the Blazers with 18 points on 7-for-11 shooting and also grabbed seven rebounds. Taylor Searcey added 12 points in 25 minutes in a reserve role.

 

        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
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