Western Washington reaches first Elite Eight since 2000 | Division II women's basketball
Corinn Waltrip scored 29 points as the Western Washington women earned a berth in the NCAA Division II Elite Eight with a 75-58 victory...
Special to The Seattle Times
BELLINGHAM — Corinn Waltrip scored 29 points as the Western Washington women earned a berth in the NCAA Division II Elite Eight with a 75-58 victory over Simon Fraser in the West Region final Tuesday night.
The Vikings (28-3) will play South Region champion Nova Southeastern (23-8) at 4 p.m. Tuesday in San Antonio, Texas.
The fifth-ranked Vikings last went to the Elite Eight in 2000.
Waltrip was 10 of 15 and made 5 of 9 three-pointers.
"It's unreal," Waltrip said of reaching the Elite Eight. "We've been working so hard for this our entire career, the whole year. ... We've had a great season, and every win from here on out is icing on the cake. It's a great feeling to know that we're in the top eight in the country."
Simon Fraser (25-6) and senior forward Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe controlled the first half, but Waltrip, a senior guard, kept Western Washington close and gave the Vikings a 32-30 advantage at halftime by scoring seven points in a 9-1 run.
"I think that (final two minutes) was the turning point for us," Western Washington coach Carmen Dolfo said. "We picked up our defense and got aggressive."
The Clan limited Western senior forward Britt Harris, the West Region Player of the Year, to two points and one rebound in the first half.
On the other end of the court, Raincock-Ekunwe, the Great Northwest Athletic Conference player of the year, dominated the Vikings' posts with 17 points and five rebounds in the first half.
"She's always a tough player to go against," said Harris, a product of Marysville-Pilchuck. "She's great, super athletic. We just kept rotating people on her, trying to keep fresh legs."
Western Washington owned the second half as the Vikings held Raincock-Ekunwe to just two points and used a 15-2 run midway through the half to put away the Clan.
"We tried to be more physical on (Raincock-Ekunwe)," Dolfo said. "We kept trying to rotate people on her. Our posts did an amazing job of stepping up and really wanting to battle."
Harris finished with 11 points. Western Washington senior guard Trishi Williams had 11 points and seven rebounds.
The Vikings shot 54.2 percent (26 of 48) from the floor, including 8 of 16 three-pointers.