Feb. 2, 2012
MONMOUTH, Ore. - Guard John Allen (Jr., Brier/Mountlake Terrace) led a balanced attack with 19 points as nationally ranked Western Washington University let a late lead slip away, but recovered and claimed an 89-81 overtime triumph over Western Oregon University in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference men's basketball contest Thursday at the New P.E. building on the WOU campus.
The Vikings, ranked No.16 in this week's National Association of Basketball Coaches Top 25 Poll, improved to 19-3 overall and remained atop the GNAC at 10-1. It was the sixth consecutive victory for WWU, which also avenged its only conference loss, an 83-73 defeat in Bellingham on Jan. 7.
WOU fell to 14-7 overall and 7-5 in GNAC play with its fifth loss in the last six games. Guard Kyle Long led the Wolves with a game-high 26 points, including a fastbreak layin with five seconds left that forced overtime. Guard Blair Wheadon added 23 points.
The Vikings, who led by as much as 16 in the second half, had a 12-point lead, 74-62, with five minutes left, but the Wolves ran off eight straight points to close the gap to four, then eventually pulled to within two, 76-74, with 1:17 to go on a layup by James Gehring.
WWU then missed three shots, the final one with 10 seconds left. Gehring rebounded and threw an outlet pass to Long, who drove the length of the floor to tie the game.
WOU had an 80-77 lead early in overtime, but the Vikings took over, scoring on their next four possessions to grab an 85-80 lead with 1:13 left. Two free throws each by Richard Woodworth (So., Bellevue/Newport) and Allen preserved the triumph.
Woodworth had 16 points, all of them after halftime. Forward Rory Blanche (Sr., Ashland, OR) contributed 14 points and a game-high nine rebounds, center Chris Mitchell (Jr., Everson/ Nooksack Valley) had 12 points, and forward Zach Henifin (Sr., Bellingham) added 11.
Leading by just three, 31-28, with 2:30 left in the first half, the Vikings ran off seven straight points, capped by a Cameron Severson (Jr., Petersburg, AK) three-pointer, to extend the margin to 10, and eventually held a 41-30 lead at halftime.
WWU was 7-of-7 on three-pointers in the first half, and finished 12-of-18, tying a school-record for a game by hitting 66.7 percent of its treys.
The Vikings are at Saint Martin's University on Saturday (7 p.m.), Feb. 4, for a GNAC counter.
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