CWU defense steps up to give Rinta first win over Western

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Austin Lane, Sports Editor

CWU Men’s Basketball secured their first win over the Western Washington University (WWU) Vikings in two years Saturday night with an 82-60 win in the Nicholson Pavilion.

The CWU defense came to play, allowing just 24 points to the Vikings in the first half of the contest. CWU also forced turnovers throughout the game, stealing the ball nine times. CWU outrebounded WWU 35-29 on the night, with junior forward Kevin Baker accounting for seven of those rebounds for the team. 

On offense it was junior guard Xavier Smith who had a breakout night, finishing with 25 points for the Wildcats. In the first half, freshman guard Micah Pollard hit back-to-back threes, playing a role in the Wildcats’ 21-3 run that gave them a 28-13 lead 14 minutes into the contest. 

CWU controlled the pace throughout the game, especially at the end. With a 67-44 lead and under 10 minutes on the clock, CWU’s offense shifted into a time management game plan, draining the play clock down on nearly every possession. That tactic worked for Rinta and the Wildcats as they cruised through the final minutes of the game, securing Rinta’s first win over WWU as the head coach for CWU.

“This is a special rivalry,” Rinta said. “It’s changed a little bit over the years since [Western has] dropped football… the community knows about it and everybody that’s been a part of this program knows about this rivalry and so that makes tonight a little bit extra special.”