MONMOUTH, Ore. – After capping Senior Night with a dominating win over Alaska Fairbanks back in February of 2020, the Western Oregon University women’s basketball team is set to return to the court this year when they begin the 2021-22 season in early November.
The Wolves went 6-21 overall and 3-17 in GNAC play during the 2019-20 season. WOU picked up a big double-overtime win over Western Washington at home that season and concluded the year with a dominating 37-point win over Alaska Fairbanks. Down the stretch, WOU played several close games including the rematch with Western Washington in Bellingham (four-point game), overtime at Montana State Billings, two-point game against Seattle Pacific and three-point game against Saint Martin’s.
Top-scorer Keyonna Jones concluded her career at WOU during the 2019-20 season leading the team in points per game (11), shot 44 percent from the field and added 79 rebounds, 65 assists and 20 steals in 25 games. Shariah Green also finished up her career that season and averaged 10.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, shot 46 percent from the field and added 11 blocks in 27 games. The next two scorers from that year are back in Tresai McCarver and Cali McClave. McCarver averaged 8.7 points and 3.9 rebounds, along with 71 assists, 30 steals and connected on 23 three-pointers in 27 games. McClave played right away as a true freshman and averaged 6.4 points and 3.4 rebounds, along with 38 steals and made 30 three-pointers.
Meadow Aragon is back after a true freshman campaign as well in which she played in 27 games, averaging 4.3 points and 4.1 rebounds, along with 22 blocks, 19 steals and shot 45 percent from the field. Amber Winkler returns after playing in 27 games and averaging 4.1 points and 4.3 rebounds, along with 50 blocks, 34 assists and 14 steals. Alexis Wright is back after seeing time in 26 games, tallying 3.1 points per game and pulled down 33 rebounds, three blocks and shot 49 percent from the field. Kaelin Williams-Kennedy is back this year as well, as she was on the team in 2019-20, but was a redshirt season.
Joining this year’s team will be a big group of freshmen including Erika Glenn, Caitlin Wheeler, Ana McClave, Madisyn Clark, Kylee Arzner, Kilyn Dawkins and Averi Young. Transfer Jewel “Princy” Paaluhi-Caulk joins the team after playing for Concordia (OR) her first season. Other transfers include Casandra White who played her first two seasons and Peninsula CC and Makenna Gambee who will play as a graduate student after playing four seasons at Hawaii Pacific.
An exhibition contest will get the season going in Monmouth on Nov. 2 against Lewis & Clark. The regular season will begin 10 days later when WOU will face Hawaii Pacific in a neutral site game on Nov. 12 in Lacey, Wash. The teams have played three times since 2011 with Hawaii Pacific holding a 2-1 edge. The last two meetings were in Monmouth during the 2012-13 season with WOU winning the first game by 12 and Hawaii Pacific coming back for a four-point win two days later. Hawaii Pacific went 10-18 during the 2019-20 season and then went 3-9 during the shortened 2020-21 season. Gambee will face her former team in Hawaii Pacific after playing her first four seasons with the Sharks. She also played volleyball at Hawaii Pacific.
It will be a short road trip after that on Nov. 14 when WOU will travel to Salem to face Willamette. WOU is 2-1 in the series since 2006, winning the past two meetings. The last game came in 2013-14 with WOU winning by 25. The last meeting in Salem was in 2012 with the Wolves taking the 18-point victory. Willamette went 1-24 in 2019-20 and then 0-4 in 2020-21.
WOU will play their first regular season home games in the middle of November when they host a two-day tournament on Nov. 19 and 20 inside NPE Gym. WOU will face Chico State on Friday and Sonoma State on Saturday in regional matchups. Saint Martin’s will also compete in the tournament against the two teams. Since 2001, Chico State is 8-0 against WOU, with the last few meetings going right down to the end. During the 2019-20 season, playing in a neutral site game, Chico State held on for a four-point win. In 2016-17, WOU played at Chico State and fell just short by three points. Chico State went 18-11 in 2019-20, advancing to the CCAA Tournament. The Wolves are 2-1 against Sonoma State since 2000 winning the most recent meeting in 2019-20 on the road by eight points. Sonoma State ended up going 15-13 during the 2019-20 season.
During the Thanksgiving week, WOU will travel down to Texas to face Texas A&M Kingsville on Nov. 24 and Texas A&M International on Nov. 26. This will be the first time WOU has faced Texas A&M-Kingsville since at least 2000. The Javelinas went 4-20 during the 2019-20 season and went 8-8 during the 2020-21 season. The Wolves will close the trip in Laredo against the Dustdevils. The teams met for the first time during the 2019-20 season when Texas A&M International traveled to Monmouth and picked up the nine-point win. The Dustdevils went 11-17 during the 2019-20 season and 11-5 in 2020-21 making the conference tournament. Both Texas A&M Kingsville and Texas A&M International competed in the Lone Star Conference.
The first GNAC games of the season arrive in early December when WOU hosts Alaska Fairbanks on Dec. 2 and Alaska Anchorage on Dec. 4. WOU nearly claimed both games against the Nanooks in 2019-20, winning by 37 points in Monmouth and then falling just short in overtime on the road. Since 2000, WOU is 15-5 at home and 7-13 on the road in the series. Alaska Fairbanks went 7-22 and 2-18 in GNAC play during the 2019-20 season and are picked to finish 10th in the GNAC Preseason Poll. WOU will close the week facing Alaska Anchorage. The Seawolves won both meetings in 2019-20 and have won 33 straight meetings in the series. Since 2000, WOU is 3-17 both at home and on the road in the series as the Seawolves have been one of the top teams in the nation over the past several years. Alaska Anchorage won the GNAC in 2019-20 after going 31-2 and 19-1 in GNAC play and are picked to win the GNAC in the Preseason Poll this year. The Seawolves went 3-0 during the 2020-21 season.
WOU will face Corban at home on Dec. 11. The Wolves have gone 6-4 in the series since 2000 and have won four straight games. The teams played a wild game in 2019-20 in Monmouth with WOU coming back for the three-point win. Corban went 18-12 in 2019-20 and then went 7-6 during the 2020-21 season.
The Wolves close the non-conference portion of their schedule on Dec. 20 playing an exhibition contest at Division I Seattle. Before Seattle made the move to Division I, WOU and Seattle played several times from 2000 until 2008 with Seattle going 9-7 during those games. Seattle has won the past six games in the meeting and the last time the teams played was in 2007-08.
WOU closes the 2021 year with a game on Dec. 30 back in GNAC play at Western Washington. The Wolves then open the new year on Jan. 1 at Simon Fraser. WOU stayed right with Western Washington in 2019-20 as the teams split the season series. WOU won the first meeting in Monmouth by three points in double overtime and then the meeting in Bellingham the Vikings held on by four points. Since 2001, the Wolves are 4-16 at home and 1-19 on the road in the series. Western Washington went 22-9 and 14-6 in GNAC play during the 2019-20 season to finish third. In 2020-21 they went 6-0 and are picked to finish second in the GNAC Preseason Poll. The Wolves close the trip at Simon Fraser as SFU won both meetings in 2019-20. Since 2011, the Wolves have gone 3-7 at home and 2-8 on the road. Simon Fraser went 18-13 and 13-7 in GNAC play during the 2019-20 season to tie for fourth. SFU was picked to finish fourth in the GNAC Preseason Poll.
WOU returns home for three straight starting on Jan. 8 against Saint Martin’s. The Saints won both meetings in 2019-20 and have won three straight in the series. The game in Monmouth was a close three-point contest. Since 2011, WOU is 6-14 at home and 4-16 on the road in the series. Saint Martin’s went 14-13 and 9-11 in GNAC play during the 2019-20 season to tie for sixth and were picked to finish sixth in the GNAC Preseason Poll.
WOU closes the homestand against Montana State Billings on Jan. 13 and Seattle Pacific on Jan. 15. WOU and Montana State Billings split the 2019-20 series with each winning at home. The Wolves nearly swept the season series, taking the ‘Jackets to overtime in Billings. Since 2001, WOU is 4-13 at home and 3-13 on the road in the series. Montana State Billings went 14-16 and 9-11 in GNAC play to tie for sixth in 2019-20 and are picked to finish seventh in the GNAC Preseason Poll. The Yellowjackets went 5-3 during the 2020-21 season. WOU and Seattle Pacific played an exciting second meeting in 2019-20 in Monmouth that saw the Falcons hang on by two points to take both meetings. Since 2001, WOU is 3-17 at home and 0-21 on the road in the series. The Falcons went 8-20 and 6-14 in GNAC play in 2019-20 and are picked to finish eighth in the GNAC Preseason Poll. They went 7-7 during the 2020-21 season.
WOU closes the first half of the GNAC schedule on Jan. 20 at Northwest Nazarene and Jan. 22 at Central Washington. The Nighthawks won both meetings in 2019-20 and have won seven straight in the series. Since 2001, WOU is 6-13 at home and 5-14 on the road in the series. Northwest Nazarene went 22-7 and 17-3 in GNAC play in 2019-20 to finish second and are picked to finish third in the GNAC Preseason Poll. They went 7-7 during the 2020-21 season. Central Washington took both meetings in 2019-20 as since 2001, WOU is 8-12 at home and 4-16 on the road in the series. The Wildcats went 19-11 and 13-7 in GNAC play to tie for fourth in 2019-20 and are picked to finish fifth in the GNAC Preseason Poll. Central Washington went 0-2 during the 2020-21 season.
The second half of the GNAC season starts towards the end of January when WOU hosts Simon Fraser on Jan. 27 and Western Washington on Jan. 29. Three straight on the road open February at Saint Martin’s on Feb. 5, Seattle Pacific on Feb. 10 and Montana State Billings on Feb. 12. The final two home games of the regular season arrive on Feb. 17 against Central Washington and Feb. 19 against Northwest Nazarene. WOU completes the regular season in Alaska on Feb. 24 at Alaska Anchorage and Feb. 26 at Alaska Fairbanks. The GNAC Championships will take place on Mar. 3-5 in Lacey, Wash.