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Western women beat rival Central

Photo: KPUG

Western women beat rival Central

BELLINGHAM, Wash. – Forward Sydney Donaldson (Jr., Edmonds/Edmonds-Woodway) scored a career-high 21 points and made a series of key plays in the dying moments as Western Washington University defeated Central Washington University, 71-64, in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference women’s basketball game Thursday at Sam Carver Gymnasium on the WWU campus.

WWU improved to 6-6 overall and 2-2 in the GNAC with its 23rd consecutive home victory. Guard Katie Colard (Jr., McCleary/Elma) added 16 points for the Vikings, making all 11 of her free throws.

CWU fell to 5-8 overall and 0-5 in the GNAC with its fifth straight loss. Guard Jessica VanDyke led the Wildcats with 17 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Forward Courtney Johnson added 14 points.

The second half featured eight ties and eight lead changes before Donaldson gave the Vikings the lead for good, 62-60, on a layin with 1:54 to play, then fed Sarah Hill (Sr., Richmond, VA/Lloyd C. Bird) for another layin to push the margin to four with 56 seconds left.

Donaldson then blocked a VanDyke post up at the other end, leading to a pair of Colard free throws that essentially put the game out of reach at 66-60 with 40 seconds left.

Donaldson, who was 8-of-10 from the field, also had a team-high nine rebounds and game-highs of five assists and five blocked shots.

Guard Jenni White (Jr., Spokane/East Valley) added 10 points for WWU, which shot 48.1 percent (25-of-52) from the field, and 79.2 percent (19-of-24) on free throws. Central shot 37.2 percent (23-of-61) from the floor, but did have a 39-31 advantage in rebounds.

WWU held a 21-10 lead just prior to the midway point of the first half. The Wildcats chipped away at the gap and eventually took a 31-30 lead on two VanDyke free throws with 51.7 seconds left in the half, but the Vikings held a 32-31 halftime lead.

The WWU home winning streak is the second-longest in school history and six short of the school record of 29. The Vikings’ last home loss was 75-55 to No.8 ranked Alaska Anchorage on Jan. 14, 2012.

It was WWU’s 12th straight victory over the Wildcats. The Vikings hold an all-time series advantage of 85-10.

WWU entertains nationally No.18-ranked Northwest Nazarene University on Saturday (5:15 p.m.) in a GNAC counter.

-WWU-