Western Washington University women's basketball forward Tina Donahue needed just three weeks to realize that she had made a mistake. In September 2001, Donahue was a freshman...

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BELLINGHAM — Western Washington University women’s basketball forward Tina Donahue needed just three weeks to realize that she had made a mistake.

In September 2001, Donahue was a freshman at Santa Clara, but longed for the comforts of her home state.

“I got down there and found out it just wasn’t the right fit for me,” said Donahue, a 6-foot junior from Stanwood. “My family wouldn’t be able to attend any games, and the coaching style at Santa Clara was really in your face. I don’t work well under that.”

The Broncos’ loss has definitely been Western’s gain. Already this season, she has been named MVP of the WWU/Lynda Goodrich Classic and earned all-tournament honors at the CCAA/GNAC Challenge Classic in helping the Vikings to a 7-1 start.

Western had recruited Donahue during her career at Stanwood High School, before she opted for Division I Santa Clara.

“We watched her in high school, so we definitely knew about her,” WWU coach Carmen Dolfo said. “She was just a great athlete and a great basketball player in high school, but she wanted to go to a Division I school.”

Then came the phone call.

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“I came back to Washington and decided I still wanted to play basketball,” Donahue said. “I looked at some schools around here, called Western one day and told them I still wanted to play.”

The Vikings were more than happy to have Donahue join their program. After sitting out 2001-02 because of transfer rules, she has made huge strides since.

“I was thankful Western still wanted me and I’m very fortunate for that,” said Donahue, who is averaging 16.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists this season. “I’ve really gotten into a groove this season. I don’t really feel that much pressure because I know what I need to do, and I know what I can do. I’ve been doing it the last three years in practice, and I’ve just finally transitioned it to the actual games.”

“I think it’s all about confidence for Tina,” Dolfo said. “She’s always had the ability, but I don’t think she’s always necessarily believed in herself. Now, she’s really starting to believe in herself and seeing what she can actually do.”

Other WWU sports

Western Washington

Men’s basketball: Western’s 8-0 start is its best since 1987-88, when the Vikings won their first nine games. Western, tied for No. 4 in the NABC/NCAA Division II Poll, plays two undefeated teams this weekend at the High Desert Classic in Las Vegas, meeting South Dakota (8-0) on Saturday at 9 p.m. and No. 24 Cal State San Bernardino (4-0) on Sunday at 9 p.m..

Women’s basketball: Western (7-1) has shot 61 percent (100 of 164) from the field in its last three games, including a school-record 71.9 percent (41 of 57) against Evergreen, when the Vikings made 21 of 25 shots in the second half.

Seattle Pacific

Men’s basketball: Off to their best start in three years, the Falcons (6-2) take a four-game win streak to Las Vegas, when they face Cal State Bakersfield and undefeated Central Missouri this weekend. SPU has hit at least 50 percent from the field in each of its wins and has scored 90 or more points in three of its last four.

Women’s basketball: Hot-shooting Mandy Wood (Port Angeles) was the tournament MVP in San Francisco last week after making 8 of 12 three-pointers and scoring 40 points in two games. The Falcons (7-1), whose wins have all been by a margin of at least 20 points, visit unbeaten Chico State on Saturday.

Seattle U.

Men’s basketball: Jeffrey McDaniel (Stockton, Calif.) had back-to-back double-doubles for the Redhawks (3-4) heading into last night’s game against Cal Poly Pomona.

Women’s basketball: The Redhawks (3-4) return to action after a two-week layoff Saturday at the Cal State San Bernardino Christmas Tournament against Cal State San Bernardino and Cal State Stanislaus.

Women’s swimming:
Seattle University has added a meet on Jan. 15 at Division I Idaho.

Washington St.

Women’s basketball: Sophomore Adriane Ferguson (Mead of Spokane) has scored in double figures in five of the six games she has played in this season. Ferguson is 10th in the Pac-10 in scoring (13.7 average) and 11th in rebounding (5.8).

Other colleges

Eastern Washington: Marc Axton (Foss of Tacoma), needs just five points to hit the 1,000-point mark in his career. A two-time All-Big Sky Conference selection and the league’s Freshman of the Year before that, Axton will become the 14th player in Eastern history to go over the 1,000-point mark, but just the fifth since EWU moved to Division I in the 1983-84 school year.

Evergreen: The Geoducks had four All-Americas in three sports as Joe Gjertsen and Nate Ford were honored for men’s soccer, Alisha White for women’s soccer, and cross country runner Josh Klimek was named All-America Scholar Athlete.

Gonzaga: The women’s basketball team (6-2) opens the longest homestand in school history with the first of seven games over the holidays. Gonzaga hosts Idaho on Saturday at 3 p.m.

Northwest: The men’s basketball team has an 8-4 record, its best start in coach John Van Dyke’s tenure and the school’s best start since 1973-74.

Pacific Lutheran: The Lutes men’s basketball team leads the Northwest Conference in blocked shots and assists. In games through Monday, the Lutes averaged 4.0 blocks and 16.1 assists per game.

Puget Sound: The men’s and women’s soccer teams capped its respective seasons with Division III All-American recognition. Cortney Kjar (Salt Lake City, Utah) and Anthony Fioretti (Auburn) were named first-team All-Americans, while Bridget Stolee (Palo Alto, Calif.) became the first three-time All-American in program history, earning a spot on the women’s second team.

Saint Martin’s: Saints center Martina Kartikova (Kosice, Slovakia) is averaging a double-double with a GNAC-leading 10.7 rebounds and 20.2 points (third in GNAC).

Whitman: Aaron Hazel (Boise, Idaho), a 6-5 freshman post, scored a career-high 17 points in 22 minutes off the bench, making seven of eight shots, in a 69-55 loss to Lewis-Clark State on Saturday. In his first seven games, Hazel is shooting 72.7 percent.

Whitworth: At 7-0, the women’s basketball team is off to its best start in school history. The Pirates swept two games at the Eastern Oregon Classic to set the record. Senior forward Tiffany Speer (Snohomish), the two-time NWC Player of the Year, was tournament MVP.

Elsewhere: A couple of former high-school stars from Kennewick, Emily Faurholt and Leilani Mitchell , lead Idaho in scoring. Mitchell, a 5-5 point guard, averages 19.9 points, and Faurholt, a 5-11 junior who transferred from Seattle Pacific, averages 19.1.

Sports information directors

contributed to this notebook.