WWU to play in national semifinals against Stonehill
Senior forward Rory Blanche of Western Washington University drives for two of his team-leading 15 points in the Vikings' 64-63 win over Midwestern State University Wednesday, March 21, in the NCAA Div. II national quarterfinals. Photo by Timothy Patrick for WWU
Sophomore guard Richard Woodworth of Western Washington University pulls down a rebound during the Vikings' 64-63 win over Midwestern State University Wednesday, March 21, in the NCAA Div. II national quarterfinals. Woodworth scored 13 points and grabbed 8 rebounds in the game. Photo by Timothy Patrick for WWU
Junior guard John Allen of Western Washington University drives toward the hoop during the Vikings' 64-63 win over Midwestern State University Wednesday, March 21, in the NCAA Div. II national quarterfinals. Photo by Timothy Patrick for WWU
Vikings tie deepest run in school history, set season win record
Matching the deepest post-season run in program history, the Western Washington University men’s basketball team faces Stonehill College in the semifinals of the NCAA Division II Elite Eight at 4 p.m. Thursday, March 22, at The Bank of Kentucky Center on the campus of host Northern Kentucky University at Highland Heights, Ky.
The game will be televised on the CBS Sports Network with Tim Brando and Dan Bonner calling the action and can be heard live on KPUG AM-1170 with Doug Lange handling play-by-play and Mark Scholten providing color commentary.
WWU, ranked No.12 in the National Association of Basketball Coaches/NCAA II Top 25 Poll, advanced by rallying from a 14-point deficit 10 minutes into its quarterfinal game to claim a 64-63 victory over No.5-rated Midwestern State University, from Texas. Highlights of that game are online on the NCAA's website.
The Vikings have now reached the semifinals in both of their Elite Eight appearances. In 2001 at Bakersfield, Calif., they lost 96-90 to Washburn (Kansas) in the semis after an 89-85 quarterfinal win over Queens (North Carolina). WWU, 29-5, advanced to the Elite Eight with a 56-50 victory over No.3 seed Seattle Pacific in the West Regional final.
WWU, making its sixth NCAA national appearance, was the No.1 seed and West Regional host. The Vikings got to the final with a first-round victory over No.8 seed Grand Canyon, 79-73, and defeated No.5 Chico State, 74-65, in the semifinals.
The Vikings’ 29 wins this winter are a school record, and their 17 home victories (17-1) this season are a program best. They won the Great Northwest Athletic Conference regular-season championship with a 16-2 record, then fell 82-78 in the semifinals of the GNAC Tournament to eventual champion Montana State Billings.
Unranked Stonehill, located in Easton, Mass., improved to 25-8 with a 91-90 upset of No.3-ranked West Liberty, extending its season-high winning streak to 10.
In Wednesday’s other quarterfinals, defending national champion and No.4-ranked Bellarmine (Kentucky) defeated No.2 Alabama-Huntsville, 82-73, and No.22 Montevallo (Alabama) edged No.13 Metro State (Colorado), 67-65.
Thursday’s semifinal between Bellarmine and Montevallo is at 6:30 p.m. PDT.
The championship game will be played Saturday, March 24 at 10 a.m. PDT. That contest will be televised nationally on CBS.
LIKE’EM CLOSE: WWU is 10-2 this season in games decided by six or fewer points.
TOP 25 SUCCESS: WWU has won six of seven games this season against teams ranked in the NCAA II Top 25 at the time. Two of the victories were over Alaska Anchorage (No.8 and No.17) and one each against Seattle Pacific (No.24), BYU Hawaii (No.3), Rollins (Florida, No.10) and Midwestern State (No.5) in the Elite Eight quarterfinals. The Vikings’ lone loss to a Top 25 team was to Alabama Huntsville (No.18), which reached the Elite Eight quarterfinals as the South Region champion.
WWU VERSUS TOP 25 TEAMS:
- Nov. 21 defeated No.3 BYU-Hawaii, 88-69 - Bellingham
- Dec. 3 defeated No.19 Seattle Pacific, 79-71 - Seattle
- Dec. 15 defeated No.10 Rollins, 80-61 - Las Vegas, Nevada
- Dec. 16 lost to No.18 Alabama Huntsville, 77-74 - Las Vegas, Nevada
- Feb. 9 defeated No.17 Alaska Anchorage, 59-50 - Bellingham
- Feb. 23 defeated No.24 Seattle Pacific, 72-70 – Bellingham
- March 21 defeated No.5 Midwestern State, 64-63 – Highland Heights, Ky.
VICTORIES: The Vikings’ 29 victories are a school record, and their 17 home wins (17-1) are a program best. WWU won 28 games in 1987-88, taking the NAIA District 1 title and reaching the second round at nationals. The Vikings’ previous best home court victory total was 16, achieved during the 1987-88 and 2000-01 seasons.
WEST REGION SUCCESS AT ELITE EIGHT: Last year, West Region representative BYU-Hawaii reached the national championship game before losing, and in 2010, Cal Poly Pomona won the national title contest after beating WWU, 76-75 in overtime, in the regional semifinals. Cal Poly Pomona also reached the national final in 2009.
STONEHILL: Stonehill College, located in Easton, Mass., is 25-8 overall. The Skyhawks upset No.3-ranked West Liberty, 91-90, and have won a season-high 10 straight games. Stonehill won the East Region title with a 75-70 win over defending champion Bloomfield (Mass.). This is the second Elite Eight appearance for Stonehill as the Skyhawks advanced to the national semifinals in 2006. Coached by David McLaughlin (9th year, 202-91), Stonehill ranks sixth nationally in scoring defense (58.7 avg.), led by 6-5 senior forward Patrick Lee (10.7 ppg, 8.7 rpg), the Northeast-10 Conference Defensive Player of the Year. Three other all-stars for the Skyhawks are 6-2 junior guard Brian Hamor (14.3 ppg, 3.4 apg), the East Regional Most Outstanding Player and a second-team all-conference pick; 6-1 senior guard Andre Tongo (12,7 ppg, 4.8 rpg), the Northeast-10 Tournament MVP; and 6-5 senior forward Patrick Lee (10.7 ppg, 8.7 rpg), who was a regional all-tournament pick and third-team all-conference. Stonehill placed third in Northeast-10 regular-season standings (15-7), then won the league’s post-season tournament.