March 19, 2013
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -
Tourney Most Outstanding Player Richard Woodworth (Jr., Bellevue/Newport) had a team-high 15 points, including two game-clinching free throws with 7.7 seconds left, lifting defending national champion Western Washington University to a 62-58 victory over Seattle Pacific University on Tuesday in the championship game of the West Regional of the 2013 NCAA Division II Men's Basketball Tournament before a crowd of 2,521 at Sam Carver Gymnasium on the campus of host Western Washington University.
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 30-2 overall and face South Region champion Florida Southern, a 90-88 winner today over Alabama Huntsville, in a national quarterfinal at Louisville, Ky., on Thurs., March 28.
SPU, the No.3 seed but ranked No.2 nationally, completed its season 27-4. Forward Patrick Simon had 14 points and five assists for the Falcons, and forward Jobi Wall added 11 points.
Simon had given SPU a 57-56 lead on a 3-pointer with 2:57 left. But Anye Turner (Jr., Tumwater/Black Hills) gave WWU the lead with a dunk off a feed from Cameron Severson (Sr., Petersburg, AK). Severson then hit a jumper with 1:44 left to push the margin to three, 60-57.
Wall made one of two free throws with 51.9 seconds left, and the Falcons got the ball back with 15 seconds left down only two, but WWU guard Rico Wilkins (Sr., Dallas, TX/DeSoto) forced a steal near midcourt with nine seconds left, and Woodworth then made two free throws for the final margin.
Severson came off the bench to contribute 14 points, five rebounds and four assists on 7-of-10 shooting; and Turner had 10 points, nine of them in the last seven minutes, for just his second double-figure scoring effort of the season.
SPU led by as much as eight in the first half, and buoyed by hitting five of their first eight 3-point shots, held a 27-21 lead with just over four minutes left in the half . But the Vikings closed the period with a 7-2 run to narrow the Falcon lead to 29-28 at halftime.
Neither team had a lead of more than four points in the second half.
It was the second straight year the two schools met in the West Region championship. WWU claimed a 56-50 triumph in Bellingham in 2012. The Vikings' only other regional title was in 2001.
The triumph was the 27th straight at home for WWU, extending its Great Northwest Athletic Conference record. The Vikings finished a perfect 17-0 at Carver Gym this season.
Joining Woodworth on the all-tournament team were Wall and Simon of SPU, WWU guard John Allen (Sr., Brier/Mountlake Terrace) and Kwame Alexander of Cal State San Bernardino.
WWU and SPU had already met three times this season prior to Tuesday. 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.
It is the second straight season that WWU has won 30 or more games, the only two in school history.
WESTERN WASHINGTON POSTGAME QUOTES
COACH Tony Dominguez
(On the game)
It was willpower. Our bench came in and did incredible. Obviously, Richard has been playing outstanding He's our do-everything guy - he's our version of LeBron. Honestly it was just our group coming together. We talk about being family, we sell that, talk about when things are tough to not panic, not getting rattled. SPU is incredibly good, and Coach Looney is an outstanding coach. We feel very fortunate to get this win. I just attribute that to willpower.
(On Anye Turner's performance)
Anye was tremendous. He has stepped into a team that had great success and he's a starter who played a reserve role, and he has done that outstandingly this year. That's a big tribute to a guy, for him to always be ready to come and in provide what we needed - a spark, intensity on defense. His free throws were at a critical time when wqe needed them to go down, and they went down.
(On the season)
We've had a lot of pressure this year - winning national championship, your head coach departing for UW. You feel like it's a seamless transition, but that's a big change for the guys. When you rattle off 24 in a row, you're getting everyone's best game. I think we hit a spot from Fairbanks to GNAC tournament where we were a little tight and feeling it. We could see that in first half against Chaminade, and then we broke loose. San Bernardino was a great win. Tonight, we had long-flying emotion, but once wqe calmed down in the second half, the guys were calm, we got past the pressure and were able to focus in on the task.
(On winning the title)
I don't really know how to describe it. We did it last year, but it's a new group of guys, a brand-new experience. We got the pieces together. It felt great to come out and get this win, especially in front of our fans. It felt nice to play a great game. SPU is a fantastic team, incredibly talented - it was incredible.
(On contributions from everyone)
We have so many weapons on our team. I felt like in first half, we kind of hit a lull. We were having trouble getting spots on the floor, and guys were missing shots. We were doing a couple things out of the norm.
(On his performance)
I tried to be aggressive and step up. If I can score a couple poinst, it gets us fired up. Second half, they're a great defensive team, so I tried to pick spots and find different things throughout the game to help us out.
(On being the guy on the spot at the free throw line)
I didn't sleep much last night thinking about stuff like that. It was picture-perfect to get a win like that, doing what we did.
SEATTLE PACIFIC POSTGAME QUOTES
Coach Ryan Looney
(On the game)
I'm proud of what we were able to accomplish over the course of the year. I don't think tonight's game was any different than any of the other games against Wetsern. Sometimes, we come out on top, sometimes we have not.
(On keys to the game)
We had a couple key turnovers, not just one like late in the game. I thought we had some early in the game that hurt us. We did a good enough job defensively to win on most nights. There were stretches in the game where ball movement on offense wasn't anywhere close to what it has been on most game nights this year.
(On not shooting as well as usual from 3-point range)
That's always their plan. They try to squeeze us and chase off the 3-point line. We just need to do a better job of finishing around the rim.
(On the game)
Any time we play these guys, it comes down to a couple plays, and it could go either way. Loose balls - they might have got more of them tonight. You have to hit everything when you play a team like Western.