CWU News

Wildcats Host Concordia and Western Oregon in Pivotal GNAC Games

The Central Washington University women's basketball team has just four games remaining in the regular season.  The Wildcats are at home for a pair of games this week against Concordia University (Ore.) and Western Oregon.

The top four teams in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference table have clinched a berth into the GNAC Championships.  Central Washington is currently fifth in the conference table with an 8-8 record.  Behind the Wildcats is Northwest Nazarene at 7-9.

"Every game is really important right now because we're in a position to control our own destiny as far as making the conference tournament," CWU Head Coach Jeff Harada said. "It's a great position to be in and I feel like we will play with the sense of urgency needed to accomplish that."

Concordia and Western Oregon are tied for last in the conference table with Saint Martin's with a GNAC record of 3-13.  Just outside the playoff bubble is Seattle Pacific.  The Falcons are 6-10 in conference, a game behind the Crusaders for the final playoff spot.

The Wildcats are a game and a half back from the fourth seeded Simon Fraser after the Clan's loss to Western Washington on Tuesday.

"As it stands now, we have the opportunity to possibly move up as high as the fourth seed or drop to the sixth seed," Harada added.  "Our goal is to finish as high as possible, but in the first round seeding really goes out the door because teams seeded three through six are pretty evenly matched.  Especially when each game is an elimination game, it's all about who's playing well at the time and who's better that day. "

Concordia makes its way to Ellensburg on Thursday (Feb. 18).  Away from home the Cavaliers have recorded just one win and a record of 1-8.  Their last win came on Feb. 6 against Alaska Fairbanks, 72-70.  When Central and Concordia faced off earlier this season the Wildcats recorded a 62-55 victory in Portland, Oregon.

Sierra Dean leads the Cavaliers in scoring, putting up 11.9 points per game.  Against conference opponents, Dean is averaging 11 points per game.

Bailey Cartwright leads the Cavaliers in rebounding, pulling down 5.2 rebounds per game.  Erin Higbie is averaging 4.5 boards per game.

Western Oregon must first go through Northwest Nazarene on Thursday before taking on the Wildcats on Saturday (Feb. 20).

The Wolves are averaging just 52.6 points per game, led by Jordan Mottershaw who averages 7.5 points per game.  Sydney Azorr is averaging 7.2 points per game for Western Oregon.

Emily Howey leads the rebounding effort for Western Oregon with 4.5 rebounds per game, while Azorr is averaging 4.3.

Western Oregon's last win came against Concordia on Feb. 9, 62-52.  The Wildcats held Western Oregon to just 37 points in a 52-37 victory earlier this season.

The Wildcats had a tough week in Alaska, but freshman Sadie Mensing posted a career high 13 points against Alaska Anchorage.

"Definitely impressed with the progress Sadie has made this year," Harada said.  "As a freshman from day one, she's persevered through the learning curve, both physically and mentally and has become one of our more consistent players in terms of her effort all year long. She impacts the game in ways that don't always show up on the stat sheet with a competitive spirit that can't be taught."

The Wildcats have three of their remaining four games in front of the hometown crowd in Nicholson Pavilion.

"It's nice to be home in front of our fans who have been great supporting us all season," Harada noted.  "I know the team wants to play well and I expect us to play with the emotion and fire needed to be at our best heading into March."

Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, while Saturday's game is slated to start at 4 p.m.  Saturday's game is also Pink Night.