FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 23, 2022

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

Western Washington University Advance to National Championship Game with 74-68 Victory

The Western Washington University women’s basketball team will play for the NCAA Division II National Championship after defeating top-seeded North Georgia 74-68 Wednesday evening in the national semifinal at Bill Harris Arena in the Birmingham CrossPlex.

Playing in its third national semifinal, the No. 5 seed Vikings will play for the first national title in the 51-year history of the illustrious program Friday evening against No. 3 Glenville State (34-1). The title game will tip-off at 7 pm CT/5 pm PT in Birmingham and televised on the CBS Sports Network.

The Vikings again had to fight from behind facing an early deficit for the second time in Alabama. After trailing by 12 points in Monday’s quarterfinal win over Valdosta State, WWU erased an eight-point first-quarter deficit while recording the six-point victory. After trailing 23-19 following the first quarter, WWU out-scored the Nighthawks 55-45 over the final three quarters of the contest.

The Vikings (25-5) were led by 19 points on 7-for-10 shooting by sophomore Brooke Walling (5 rebounds, 5 steals, 2 assists) and 18 points and nine rebounds by senior Emma Duff (2 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks). WWU’s balanced offensive and defensive effort featured all 11 active players seeing action on the court and 10 players scoring points. Junior guard Avery Dykstra contributed nine points and three assists and junior forward Katrina Gimmaka provided eight crucial first-half points on 4-for-7 shooting.

North Georgia (29-4) was led by a game-high 28 points from guard Caroline Margin and 17 points and eight rebounds by WBCA National Player of the Year Julianne Sutton.

WWU’s defense limited UNG to its fourth-lowest shooting performance of the season (.352, 19-for-54) and only 4-for-16 shooting from beyond the arc. North Georgia scored 26 of 68 points from the free throw line (36-for-34). The Vikings and Nighthawks were even in rebounding with 38 apiece.

The Vikings shot 44.3-percent from the field (27-for-61), but were just 3-for-22 from three-point range. Going to the charity stripe 10 fewer times than UNG, WWU was 17-for-24 (.708) from the free throw line.

THE MOMENT THAT MATTERED:

The Vikings went on an 11-2 run, which included a 9-0 spurt, immediately following halftime to build an eight-point lead at 48-40. That early run would hold as the Vikings would lead for the remainder of the game, growing the cushion to as many as 12 points in the fourth quarter.

FIRST HALF RECAP:

The Vikings and Nighthawks played an even first half of play with six lead changes and eight tie scores, with UNG taking a one-point lead into the half 38-37. WWU was called for 12 fouls (compared to 6 for UNG), including two early fouls against Brooke Walling that helped fuel a 7-0 first-quarter run and an eight-point lead (19-11). WWU was steady throughout the second quarter out-scoring UNG 18-15, opening the period on a 12-6 run to take a 31-29 lead.

Western grabbed a 37-36 lead with 44-seconds left in the half on three-point play by Carley Zaragoza, but UNG hit a pair of free throws (14-for-18 in the half) to take a one-point lead through the first 20 minutes.

Katrina Gimmaka led the Vikings with eight points on 4-for-6 shooting in 10 minutes and Emma Duff, Gracie Castaneda and Zaragoza each contributed five points.

QUOTES FROM HEAD COACH CARMEN DOLFO:

“It’s something you dream of (playing in the national championship game). This team is just special. They care for each other, play for each other and sacrifice for each other and we’ve had a lot of ups and downs. They’ve stuck together through the whole thing. I’m so excited and so excited to get to do it with them.”

“My team just dialed in, they played amazing defense and I’m just so proud.”

        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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