WWU sets school record with 79-66 win over Alaska Fairbanks
Jan. 26, 2013
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Nationally ranked Western Washington University set a school record with its 24th consecutive victory, defeating University of Alaska Fairbanks, 79-66, in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference men's basketball contest Saturday before a crowd of 1,725 at Sam Carver Gymnasium on the WWU campus.
The defending NCAA Division II national champion Vikings, who are ranked No.2 in this week's National Association of Basketball Coaches Top 25, improved to 18-0 overall and remained atop the GNAC at 9-0. Guard John Allen (Sr., Brier/Mountlake Terrace) and forward Paul Jones (Sr., Kent/Kent-Meridian) each had 18 points to pace WWU.
Top-ranked Metro State, Colo., is the only other unbeaten team in Division II. UAF fell to 10-7 overall and 5-4 in the GNAC with its third straight loss. Pat Voeut, a graduate of Bellingham's Squalicum High, led the Nanooks with 17 points.
WWU held a 15-point lead, 50-35, a little less than five minutes into the second half, but the Nanooks rallied to pull within five, 57-52, on a pair of Voeut free throws with 11:09 to play.
The margin was still just six, 62-56, with 5:43 to play, but WWU scored seven of the next eight points, capped by an Allen 3-pointer, to take a 69-57 lead with 4:09 left, and the margin stayed in double digits the rest of the way.
The 24-game winning streak is longer than the 23-game run from Feb. 20, 1971 to Feb. 15, 1972, a run that included 21 consecutive victories to open the 1971-72 season. That team ended up reaching the NAIA national quarterfinals. The streak is also the longest in the 12-year history of the GNAC.
"Our guys have earned it," WWU coach Tony Dominguez said of the winning streak. "They also want it and are willing to do what they have to do and give up things to win. Our starters have given up some scoring, bench guys have given up minutes.
"It's definitely fun, a great story, but we have a long way to go, we're still only halfway through the league. Our goal is to get back into the post-season, and I'm excited about where these guys can go."
Austin Bragg (Jr., Longview/Mark Morris) had 15 points for WWU and Richard Woodworth (Jr., Bellevue/Newport) added 12. The Vikings had a 36-23 advantage in rebounds, with Jones grabbing 11 and Bragg 9.
Dominique Brinson had 13 points for Alaska Fairbanks, and Stefan Tica and Dallen Bills came off the bench to contribute 11 and 10, respectively.
WWU is now 9-0 at home this season and has won 19 straight games at Carver Gym, one short of the school record set from 1970 to 1972.
It was the 11th straight series win over UAF for WWU, which hold a 24-8 overall advantage.
The Vikings close out their four-game home stand with GNAC counters against Montana State Billings on Thursday, Jan. 31 (7:30 p.m.), and No.5 Seattle Pacific on Saturday, Feb. 2 (7:30 p.m.).
WWU just keeps on winning
By ANDREW LANG -- THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
BELLINGHAM - Exactly 329 days have passed since the Western Washington University men's basketball team has lost a game.
The No. 2-ranked Vikings have compiled a school record-tying 23 wins during the span dating back to last season, matching a mark that's stood since 1972.
Coach Tony Dominguez and his Vikings don't dwell too much on records, but guard John Allen knows the Vikings accomplished something special during their 24th consecutive victory, a 79-66 GNAC win against University of Alaska Fairbanks Saturday, Jan. 26, at Carver Gym in front of a crowd of 1,725 in attendance.
"It's kind of cool that you know you be remembered for at least a while," Allen said. "It's cool for the community. It's cool for everyone that comes out and supports us night in and night out. They pay to watch us play. They are a part of this with us, so it's kind of cool to be able to give back to the people who come and watch us."
Though Dominguez acknowledged Western has higher season goals than setting a new win streak, he said the consecutive wins is a testament to the mental fortitude the team's shown during the past two years, especially Western's 2012-13 group.
"These guys deserve it," Dominguez said. "They've earned it. They really want to be good. They do everything they can do to be the best. We've had a lot of great teams, but I don't know if we've had one as mentally tough as this group of guys."
Fittingly, it was Western's poise and mental toughness while playing with a small lead down the stretch that helped the Vikings earn win No. 24. Alaska Fairbanks, which rests third in the GNAC standings, gave the undefeated Vikings (18-0, 9-0 GNAC) all they could handle.
WWU's Paul Jones matched Allen for a team-high 18 points. Austin Bragg added 15 points, including a huge first-half, poster-worthy dunk over UAF's Stefan Tica, and Richard Woodworth scored eight of his 12 points in the second half. The Vikings out rebounded the Nanooks 36-23 and 19-7 in the final 20 minutes.
Former Squalicum High School standout Pat Voeut scored a team-high 17 points in what was a bitter sweet homecoming. The Storm alum transferred to Alaska Fairbanks from Whatcom Community College during the off season.
"It's always nice playing against the hometown guys," Allen said. "They bring a lot of energy and play a little harder, so it's always fun. Pat is a talented player, but he came across a talented team tonight."
After trailing briefly during the first 2 1/2 minutes of the game, Western maintained a single-digit lead the rest of the half. A 3-point play from Anye Turner with 11:14 left in the first gave the Vikings a 21-12 advantage. It was Western's largest lead of the opening half.
WWU led 40-33 at the break and extended its lead to 15 points five minutes into the third quarter after Jones drilled a mid-range jumper.
But Alaska Fairbanks, led by Voeut, crept back into the game and cut the Vikings' lead to 59-54 with 8:08 to go. A Fairbanks bucket by Dallen Bills brought the score to 62-56 with 5:41 left, but the Western made key stops down the stretch and executed on the offensive end to seal the win.
"We've had a couple games like that this year with the Central game going down to the wire and a couple other ones that have been close at the end," said Bragg about being able to win in the final five minutes. "That helps us to have that experience, and we just came together as a team. Everybody took shots and found the open guy."
The win marked the 14th time Western has won by more than 10 points this season.
Jones recorded a double-double, hauling in a game-high 11 rebounds to go with his 18 points. Bragg grabbed nine boards, and Allen handed out a team-high four assists.
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