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WOU’s Dana Goularte, left, flips in a reverse layup in Friday’s victory over Willamette. Goularte scored 23 points in the 71-53 win.
November 28, 2012
SALEM -- Midway through Friday's game against Willamette, Dana Goularte set her feet and fired a 3-point shot toward the rim.
The shot didn't fall.
The Western Oregon University sophomore didn't waste time hanging her head, though. Instead, after a teammate snagged the offensive rebound, she made an immediate cut to the basket, received a pass and made a nifty scoop layup.
Those are just the kind of plays Goularte, who played sparingly as a freshman last season, makes nowadays.
"She's worked really hard," WOU women's head coach Greg Bruce said of the 6-foot forward, who has emerged as perhaps the Wolves' most consistent player on both ends of the floor. "First year, she came in as a freshman and she thought she'd worked hard, but she really hadn't. But this year, she's done a really good job."
After scoring 23 and 14 points, respectively, in WOU's two wins in Corban University's Capital City Classic -- a 71-53 victory over Willamette Friday and a 75-66 decision over Corban Saturday -- Goularte was named the tournament's most valuable player.
Her production marks a drastic change from last year, when she averaged just 15 minutes per game.
She scored just five points per contest in 2011-12.
Through six games this season, Goularte ranks second on the squad in points (14.0 per game), first in rebounds (8 per game), first in steals (3 per game), first in assists (2.8 per game) and first in free throws made (26).
She's also shooting a crisp 48.3 percent from the floor, a team-best.
"It's definitely a big difference," Goularte, who grew up in Port Orchard, Wash., said of the change.
But with the loss of seniors Rylee Peterson and Jade Haas -- both of WOU's leading scorers in 2011-12 -- to graduation, she also knew her emergence was needed.
"I knew I was going to have to step up this year ... so I stayed over the summer and worked on my game," Goularte said. "I lifted with our trainer and everything and just knew that I had to step up."
Her teammates have noticed, too.
"Defense was her main focus that she needed to work on -- she's always been an offensive threat," senior guard Lorrie Clifford said.
"But on defense, she's really come around and she's focused on that and it's great to see."
By now, Goularte is used to making adjustments.
In high school, she spent two years playing for Life Christian Academy (Tacoma, Wash.), a school of about 160 students. But just prior to her junior year, she transferred to South Kitsap, the second-largest school in Washington, with an enrollment of more than 2,300.
It was a shock, to say the least.
"It was a crazy switch," Goularte said. "I was so nervous -- but it was a smooth transition for me."
Despite the fact that she no longer had to play point guard -- a position she had played her "whole life" at Life Christian -- Goularte flourished at South Kitsap, earning all-league honors her junior and senior year.
"It was a learning experience, but it really helped me grow," Goularte said.
As far as her success now, Goularte said she credits one thing: confidence.
"Looking back at my freshman year, I'm like, `Oh my gosh, why couldn't I do all the stuff I was capable of doing?' I think it was just nerves, the freshman thing," she said.
"It's a lot different coming in now. Everybody has so much more faith in me; all my teammates, they come to me because they believe in me and that makes me feel great.
"I think from last year to this year, a big thing for me was just confidence."
In Friday's win over Willamette, Clifford added 17 points and seven rebounds to lead WOU. Saturday, freshman Mariah Durian broke 20 points for the third time this season, scoring a game-high 21 to go along with Clifford's 11 points and 10 rebounds. Goularte added 13 boards in the win.
Clifford was also named to the all-tournament team for her efforts.
Western Oregon (4-2) at Western Washington (4-0)
When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
Where: Bellingham, Wash.
Western Oregon at Simon Fraser
When: Saturday, 5:15 p.m.
Where: Burnaby, British Columbia.