KeyArena, already home to a pair of 20-point-per-game scorers in Sonics Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, will host another 20-point duo Saturday...
KeyArena, already home to a pair of 20-point-per-game scorers in Sonics Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, will host another 20-point duo Saturday.
But this pair gets its points in 40 minutes, not 48.
Western Washington guard Ryan Diggs, a 6-foot-2 senior from Victorville, Calif., entered the week averaging 24.3 points, and forward Grant Dykstra, a 6-4 senior from Lynden Christian High School, averaged 22.5.
They lead an offense that entered the week averaging 100.5 points per game. The Vikings, 7-1 and ranked No. 4 in NCAA Division II, bring their high-octane attack to KeyArena to face rival Central Washington at 7:30 p.m. in the “Showdown in the Sound.”
Few college teams feature two 20-point scorers, and through seven games this season, Dykstra and Diggs have a chance to be the first such pair at Western. Just five players in school history have averaged 20-plus, the last being Jared Stevenson in 2000.
“I can’t remember another time like this,” Western coach Brad Jackson said.
“We’ve been able to fast break a lot and get out and go. That gives us opportunities and we’ve been scoring in flurries. I don’t think we’ve been doing anything differently, except for guys are a year older and looking for each other more, but it’s obviously been working out very well.
Central Washington vs. Western Washington, Saturday, 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. at KeyArena.
The scoop: Showdown In The Sound. Men’s and women’s doubleheader played at KeyArena in Seattle.
“Probably the best part about it is how they’re both shooting for a high percentage and playing within the team concept. It’s been very exciting to watch.”
Both Diggs and Dykstra are doing much more than scoring. Both are averaging four assists and more than two steals, and Dykstra is pulling down 5.9 rebounds, second on the team.
“We have so many guys who can do so many things,” Dykstra said. “It can be good or bad at times, and sometimes guys can try to be too eager. But the good part of it is that any guy can step up and score. It doesn’t have to be me or Ryan and that’s a good asset to have.”
With Diggs hitting 53.9 percent and Dykstra 54.0 percent, opponents must try to cover both at all times. You can’t back off them; Diggs is shooting 55.2 percent from three-point range, and Dykstra 43.8. And don’t bother sending either of them to the free-throw line as Dykstra is converting 93.8 percent and Diggs 85.7 percent.
“Teams can’t focus on one of us,” said Diggs. “If teams try to stop one of us, the other is going to go off. He [Dykstra] opens up a lot for me and I open up a lot for him.”
Diggs and Dykstra may be creating so many opportunities for one another that each may break Stevenson’s school career scoring record of 1,728 points. Dykstra is seventh on the career list with 1,406 points, while Diggs is eighth with 1,352. They need to average 17.0 and 19.9 points per game, respectively, over the next 19 games to establish a new mark.
“It’s good to be recognized, and [the record] does add a little pressure, but it’s just a number,” Dykstra said. “If one of us gets it or both of us get it, it doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t matter unless we get a national championship.”
As Dykstra finished saying those last two words, Diggs passed by and asked him what he was talking about.
“The scoring record,” Dykstra replied.
“Oh, yeah,” Diggs said, pausing. “I want a ring.”
Other Western sports
Men’s basketball: Jackson coached his 600th game at WWU on Wednesday, when the Vikings played at defending NCAA II West Region champion Cal Poly Pomona. Jackson is in his 21st season.
Women’s basketball: Western Washington’s 5-0 start is the best since 1999-2000, when the Vikings opened with nine wins.
Men’s basketball: Seattle Pacific’s No. 5 ranking is its highest in 12 years. Robbie Will’s (O’Dea) six blocked shots in his last game were the most by an SPU player in seven seasons.
Women’s basketball: Coming off their first back-to-back losses in six years, the Falcons (4-2) seek to avoid their first three-game losing streak in 10 seasons at Westmont on Saturday. Mandy Wood (Port Angeles) scored 41 points in the two losses and leads the team, averaging 16.8.
Men’s basketball: Senior Bernard Seals (Sacramento, Calif.) has scored 20 or more points in five of Seattle’s seven games and leads the Great Northwest Athletic Conference with 2.9 steals per game.
Women’s basketball: Junior Ashley Payne (Port Angeles) scored 23 and 21 points, the third and fourth highest totals of her career, in two of the last three games for the Redhawks.
Women’s basketball: Junior Kate Benz (Portland) is tied for fifth in the nation in rebounds per game (12.3). Benz leads the Pac-10 in rebounds and defensive rebounds (8.5) and is second in offensive rebounds (3.75).
Central Washington: Grant Assink (Lynden) will face his former team when the 6-foot-9 junior plays at KeyArena on Saturday against Western. The Wildcats center played for WWU as a freshman, where he averaged 7.3 points and shot 61.9 percent from the field, and played one year at Whatcom Community College before transferring to Central for this season. Assink is averaging 11.1 points and 6.4 rebounds while starting all eight games for CWU (5-3). Lance Den Boer (Sunnyside Christian), a junior transfer from Washington State, leads the team with averages of 18.8 points and 7.5 rebounds.
Eastern Washington: Quarterback Erik Meyer (La Mirada, Calif.) was one of three finalists for the Walter Payton Award given annually to the top player in NCAA I-AA. Meyer passed for 4,003 yards and 30 touchdowns while winning his second Big Sky Offensive MVP. He was selected as a first-team All-American by The Associated Press and The Sports Network. Wide receiver Eric Kimble made the AP second team.
Gonzaga: ESPN The Magazine published a feature article Adam Morrison last week. Sports Illustrated sent a reporter to the Gonzaga campus last week to interview Morrison as well as cover the Washington State game in Spokane and the Battle in Seattle last Saturday against Oklahoma State. Morrison scored 25 points in each game, and hit the dramatic bank shot to beat Oklahoma State. Morrison shares this week’s SI cover with Seahawks rusher Shaun Alexander.
Northwest: The men’s basketball team (9-3) is averaging 81 points. That ranks 29th in NAIA and is 12 points better than last year.
Pacific Lutheran: Kezia Long (Jefferson of Federal Way) was named the Northwest Conference women’s basketball player of the week on Monday. Long shot 63 percent from the field and averaged 17.5 points and 10 rebounds in two wins last week.
Puget Sound: The Loggers lead the NWC in scoring in both men’s and women’s basketball. The men are averaging 91 points, the women 79.3.
Saint Martin’s: Beth Layton (Toledo) had 29 points and six assists in the Saints’ overtime loss to Northwest, increasing her career scoring total to 991. Layton hit a shot at the buzzer to force overtime.
Whitman: Senior guard Laura Vertatschitsch (Issaquah) scored a career-high 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting and had five steals and four rebounds in a 78-33 victory over Walla Walla on Sunday. Vertatschitsch, who is second on the team in scoring at 14.0 points per game, earned All-NWC honorable mention in each of the past two seasons.
Sports information directors
contributed to this notebook.