Feb. 4, 2012
Lacey, Wash. - Forward Rory Blanche (Sr., Ashland, OR) had a team-high 21 points, leading nationally ranked Western Washington University to a 70-67 victory over Saint Martin's University in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference men's basketball contest Saturday at Marcus Pavilion on the SMU campus.
The Vikings, ranked No.16 in this week's National Association of Basketball Coaches Top 25 Poll, improved to 20-3 overall and remain atop the GNAC at 11-1 with their seven consecutive victory.
SMU fell to 8-14 overall and 4-9 in the GNAC with its fifth straight loss. Brok Pendleton led the Saints with a game-high 24 points, and Jeremy Green added 20 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
The Vikings led by as much as 22 points, and held a 60-50 lead with 3:30 to go. But the Saints rallied, eventually pulling within three, 65-62, on a putback by Roger O'Neill with 29.4 seconds left before WWU guard Richard Woodworth (So., Bellevue/Newport) hit 5-of-6 free throws to ice the victory.
Guard John Allen (Jr., Brier/Mountlake Terrace) had 14 points for the Vikings, and Woodworth added 11 points, seven rebounds and four assists. WWU trailed, 20-17, with just over eight minutes left in the first half, but then put the defensive clamps on the Saints, outscoring them 15-6 the rest of the period to take a 35-26 lead at halftime.
The Vikings then opened the second half with 13 straight points and led 48-26 with just over 16 minutes left. SMU responded with a 20-0 charge and pulled to within two, 48-46, but WWU bounced back with 10 points of its own to lead 58-46 with 5:34 to play.
Blanche, who was 10-of-14 from the field and had seven rebounds, scored in double figures or the 17th straight game and the 40th in the last 41.
It is the third 20-win season for the Vikings in the last four years and their 12th under had coach Brad Jackson, who is in his 27th campaign.
WWU returns home to host No.21-ranked Alaska Anchorage on Thursday (7 p.m.) and Alaska Fairbanks on Saturday (7 p.m.) in GNAC contests.
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