March 2, 2013
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -
Forward Paul Jones (Sr., Kent/Kent-Meridian) had team-highs of 19 points and nine rebounds, helping Western Washington University end its regular season with a 67-56 victory over Simon Fraser University in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference men's basketball contest Saturday afternoon at Sam Carver Gymnasium on the WWU campus televised nationally on CBS Sports Network and CBSSports.com.
The defending NCAA Division II national champion Vikings, ranked No.3 in this week's National Association of Basketball Coaches Top 25 and No.1 in the West Region rating, improved to 26-1 overall and wrapped up the outright GNAC regular-season title with a 17-1 mark, the best record in GNAC history.
Guard John Allen (Sr., Brier/Mountlake Terrace) had 11 points for WWU, which had already clinched a first-round bye in next week's GNAC Tournament at Lacey.
Simon Fraser fell to 6-20 overall and 1-17 in the GNAC with its 10th straight loss despite the game-high 21 points of forward Taylor Dunn. Anto Olah added 12 points, and Ibrahim Appiah had eight points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
The Vikings fell behind by four, 32-28, in the opening minute of the second half, but went on a run of eight straight points, with Jones and center Chris Mitchell (Sr., Everson/Nooksack Valley) each getting four, to take a 36-32 lead with 16:08 left.
WWU led the rest of the way, but SFU was still within two, 54-52, on a steal and layin by Dunn with 3:36 to go. That proved, however, to be the Clan's last field goal until the final five seconds, and guard Rico Wilkins (Sr., Dallas, TX/DeSoto) helped the Vikings pull away with six points in a span of less than two minutes.
WWU is now 14-0 at home this season, and extended their school-record home winning streak to 24, one short of the GNAC record set by Humboldt State (2001-03).
The Vikings shot 56.8 percent (25-of-44) from the field to just 32.8 percent (21-of-64) for the Clansmen, but SFU stayed in the contest by grabbing 18 offensive rebounds, eight of them by Appiah.
Saturday's contest was the final home regular-season game for six seniors - Allen, Jones, Mitchell, Wilkins, forward Damien Fisher (Fife) and guard Cameron Severson (Petersburg, AK).