CWU News

Williams' Triumphant Triple Helps Wildcats Vanquish Vikings

Senior guard Dom Williams hit a three-point shot in the waning seconds, as the Central Washington University men's basketball team (9-4, 4-2 Great Northwest Athletic Conference) defeated Western Washington University (9-7, 2-4 GNAC) 74-71 Wednesday in Nicholson Pavilion.

"We were looking to go with an on-ball screen because they had been switching," explained CWU head coach Greg Sparling of the last play. "If they did, we were going to roll down to Joseph [Stroud]. But they [the defender] went under and they had some miscommunication, and Dom stepped up and hit a big shot."  

Williams said, "I already knew, in the back of my head, that I was going to take the last shot and I knew it was going in. I told my team before, on that bench, that this shot's going in." 

Sparling added, "He was due. He's been due the last three games."

Williams demonstrated quite a bit of confidence for a player who had missed six of seven previous three-point attempts in the contest.

"My teammates told me to keep shooting," Williams pointed out. "They said, 'You're going to hit two big shots.' And two big shots came down. I hit a three before that one and the game winner. I like that feeling, to have the ball in my hands."

Williams ended the night with 13 points, while dishing out seven assists and grabbing five rebounds in the victory. He was one of three Wildcats in double figures. Stroud led the Wildcats with 20 points, to go along with a team-high seven rebounds and a game-high six blocked shots. Joey Roppo also contributed 17.

"I just tried to let it [the game] come to me," said Roppo. "I got a couple of good looks early. Then guys were finding me for threes in the second half, and I was knocking them down."

The Wildcat defense was also key the victory, as CWU held WWU to just seven field goals, on 29 shot attempts, in the second half (24.1 percent). The increased defensive intensity allowed CWU to quickly rally from a 45-34 halftime deficit. 

With the win, CWU improved to 6-1 at home this season, to the delight of the 2,475 fans that packed Nicholson Pavilion for the game.

"I thought the crowd gave us a lot of energy," Sparling acknowledged. "It was a heavyweight fight out there and, at the end of the day, I thought our guys executed the game plan well. Anytime you beat Western, it's a special win."

Williams added, "This game was huge, not just for the team but for the community and everybody who lives here in Ellensburg."

Saturday, CWU remains at home for its next GNAC game against Simon Fraser University. Tip off is set for 7 p.m. The nation's highest NCAA Division II team, the Clan is averaging 119.4 points per game heading into a contest Thursday at Northwest Nazarene University.

"We've got to come back to the gym tomorrow, put the work clothes on and get ready for Simon Fraser. Because, if we don't come ready to play, it will negate this big victory," said Sparling.

Roppo agreed, adding, "Every game in the GNAC is important. We can't take any nights off."