Coach Brad Jackson gets 500th win
Brad Jackson and his family represent "500" with their hands after Jackson earned his 500th win as a coach Thursday night in Carver Gym. The Vikings defeated Saint Martin's University 76-71. Photo by Jeremy Smith | University Communications intern
Brad Jackson and his family represent "500" with their hands after Jackson earned his 500th win as a coach Thursday night in Carver Gym. The Vikings defeated Saint Martin's University 76-71. Photo by Lillian Furlong | For WWU Athletics
Western Washington University's Brad Jackson became just the fifth college hoop coach in the state of Washington, male or female, to reach the 500 milestone in victories as the Vikings defeated Saint Martin's University, 76-71, in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference men's basketball contest Thursday at Sam Carver Gymnasium on the WWU campus. WWU, rated No.23 in this week's National Association of Basketball Coaches/NCAA Division II Top 25 Poll, improved to 13-2 overall and remained undefeated in the GNAC at 4-0 with its seventh consecutive home victory. Forward Rory Blanche had a team-high 20 points for the Vikings and forward Zach Henifin added 17 points, 11 rebounds and four steals. Saint Martin's fell to 5-9 overall and 1-4 in conference play with its fourth loss in the last five games. Center Jeremy Green had a game-high 23 points for the Saints, and forward Brok Pendleton added 21 points and eight rebounds. WWU led by 11, 66-55, with under six minutes left, but the Saints pulled within four twice in the late going, the final time at 69-65 with 2:14 to go. Henifin hit a baseline dunk to push the margin to six, and after Saint Martin's missed three shots at the other end, Henifin made one of two free throws to give the Vikings a 72-65 advantage with 1:12 remaining. The margin was never less than five after that. The Vikings started slowly, hitting just 5 of their first 18 shots as Saint Martin's opened up a 17-12 lead just over eight minutes into the game. But keyed by full-court pressure, WWU exploded into the lead, hitting 15 of 17 shots the rest of the half, including a stretch of 11 in a row, opening up a 47-32 lead at halftime. WWU shot 57.1 percent (20-of-35) from the field in the first half, and 50.0 percent (29-of-58) for the game. Jackson, who is in his 27th season directing the Vikings, joins Marv Harshman (637 - Pacific Lutheran, Washington State, Washington), Dean Nicholson (620 - Central Washington), Hec Edmundson (508 - Washington) and Leo Nicholson (505 - Central Washington) as the only college coaches in state history to win 500 games. He also is only the 40th NCAA II men's coach nationally to accomplish that feat. "It's very gratifying, but I don't see it as being about me," said Jackson. "There have certainly been great players, assistant coaches, staff and others who have all played a part. There's a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes on a daily basis." Guard Richard Woodworth added 11 points and five assists for the Vikings, who host Western Oregon University in a GNAC counter Saturday at 7 p.m.