March 18, 2013
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Guards Richard Woodworth (Bellevue/Newport), John Allen (Sr., Brier/Mountlake Terrace) and Rico Wilkins (Sr., Dallas, TX/DeSoto) combined for 51 points to lead defending national champion Western Washington University to a 86-77 victory over Cal State University San Bernardino in Monday's semifinal round of the West Regional of the 2013 NCAA Division II Men's Basketball Tournament at Sam Carver Gymnasium on the WWU campus.
The Vikings, ranked No.4 in this week's NABC NCAA Division II National Top 25 Poll and the No.1 seed in the West Regional, improved to 29-2 overall and face Seattle Pacific in the regional final Tuesday (8:30 p.m.). WWU defeated SPU, 56-50, in the 2012 West Regional final.
Cal State San Bernardino, the No.5 seed, concluded its season 20-9 despite a game-high 28 points from forward Kwame Alexander.
There were no leads of more than six points through the first 30 minutes of the contest, and for a stretch of nearly seven minutes early in the second half, neither team had a lead of more than two points.
WWU finally pulled away by holding the Coyotes without a field goal for more than seven minutes, turning a 61-60 edge into a 76-73 advantage with 2:48 to play. Wilkins and forward Austin Bragg (Jr., Longview/Mark Morris) each had five points in the charge.
"We played a complete game tonight," said WWU coach Tony Dominguez. "We moved the ball on offense, then defensively we were really on it."
Woodworth had a team-high 18 points, 12 in the first half; Allen had 17 points and five assists; and Wilkins had 16 points, 11 in the last nine minutes. Forward Paul Jones (Sr., Kent/Kent-Meridian) had 12 points and seven rebounds for WWU, which had a 39-19 advantage on the boards.
Lacy Haddock had 20 points for Cal State San Bernardino, 15 of them in the first half.
The triumph was the 26th straight at home for WWU, breaking the Great Northwest Athletic Conference record of 25 set by Humboldt State (2001-03). The Vikings are 16-0 at Carver Gym this season.
WWU and SPU have already met three times this season. The Vikings claimed two regular-season triumphs, winning at Seattle, 66-56, on Jan. 3; and at Bellingham, 83-76, in overtime, on Feb. 2; but the Falcons claimed a 72-70 triumph in the GNAC championship game at Lacey on Mar. 9.
WESTERN WASHINGTON POSTGAME QUOTES
COACH Tony Dominguez (On different styles between Chaminade on Friday and San Bernardino on Monday) It keeps our attention. We have a versatile team as well. We have a lot of we can throw in there in there, and feel we can match up with a lot of different styles. Just means we play a couple guys a little differently.
(On forcing San Bernardino into some cold shooting late in the game) It's the NCAA Tournament. For us, we had gotten up a little bit, maybe lost a little focus on defense, maybe were a little off balance. During one of the timeouts, we talked about just refocusing, getting our balance and sticking to our rules.
(On big rebounding advantage) Defense and rebounds wins - and making the extra pass on offense. On defense, you're going to win that way. San Bernardino has been, I wouldn't say a nemesis, but kind of a rivalry in the NCAA Tournament over the years. They've been more physical than us at times, but this year, we didn't feel that was the case. Besides Kwame, we felt we should dominate the glass, and I think we did that.
(On playing SPU for the fourth time this year) They're tough, and very well coached. They're playing with a lot of confidence. It's going to be a battle. We're stinging a little bit from that shot in the conference championship. That's going to give us some motivation. I don't know how the results is going to come out. If the (GNAC) game had gone the other way, I'm wondering how we would be responding. I'm pretty sure our guys will be focused and not taking it for granted.
Richard Woodworth (On WWU balanced attack) We have a ton of weapons on our team. We know anyone on any given night can have a big night. Have to give credit to all the other players. John getting to the lane real well, Paul was getting into the lane real well, Rico found me a couple times. When we make the extra pass, everyone gets the ball and we start rolling. I got open a few times and got into the lane, and Rico found me.
(On playing SPU again) You don't need to say a lot. It's just a battle. Both teams are real confident. We feel like we have more talented team, they feel like they have a better team. Personally, I wouldn't want to have it any other way.
Rico Wilkins (On his contribution tonight) I just try when I come in to bring energy. Tonight, I came in thinking to myself, `Don't try to do too much, just play within the game. Everything was coming pretty easy. Guys were moving the ball.
CAL STATE SAN BERNARDINO QUOTES
COACH JEFF OLIVER (On the game) I thought we did a decent job. One of our goals was to try to slow the pace down. I didn't want to deflate our guys without being aggressive, either - we enjoy getting up and down, also. We did a decent job of that, especially in first half. Another thing we tried was to limit their runs. We did a great job I the first half, not such a great job in the second half.
(On what ultimately made the difference) The biggest factor was rebounding. That was my biggest concern coming in. Sure enough, 21 offensive rebounds and a 20-rebound advantage - you're not going to win too many games doing that. The game was lost in the trenches on the boards.
(On Kwame Alexander's performance) We did a real good job getting him the ball in effective spots early in second half. Then the combination of them pushing him off the block and Kwame getting tired, he wasn't catching it in the same spots.
KWAME ALEXANDER (On his career-high 28 points) I was just able to exploit the one-on-one defense they were playing. Every opportunity I had, I just took it. I felt I had to come through for my teammates. I just took everything they gave me.
Woodworth, Wilkins lead WWU men to victoryPublished: March 19, 2013 Updated 4 hours ago
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