Chuck Randall Thanksgiving Classic - Game 2 - No.6-ranked WWU defeats Concordia St. Paul, 80-76
Nov. 23, 2012
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Reserve guard Cameron Severson (Sr., Petersburg, AK) scored the go-ahead points on two free throws with 37 seconds left, lifting nationally ranked Western Washington University to an 80-76 victory over Concordia University St. Paul in first-day action Friday at the 12th Chuck Randall Thanksgiving Men's Basketball Classic being held at Sam Carver Gymnasium on the WWU campus.
The defending national champion Vikings, ranked No.6 in this week's National Association of Basketball Coaches Top 25 Poll, remained unbeaten at 4-0 and have won 10 straight games over the last two seasons. Guard John Allen (Sr., Brier/Mountlake Terrace) led WWU with 20 points.
Concordia-St. Paul fell to 0-2. Guard Terez Van Pelt led the Golden Bears with game-highs of 23 points and six assists. Isaiah Thomas added 19 points, 16 of them in the second half when he was 4-of-4 on 3-pointers.
Van Pelt had tied the game at 74-74 on a pullup jumper with 53 seconds left, but Severson drove the lane at the other end and was fouled, then converted both free throws to give WWU a 76-74 lead. Rico Wilkins (Sr., Dallas, TX/DeSoto) then stripped the ball from a driving Van Pelt at the other end, eventually leading to two Allen free throws with eight seconds left to put the game out of reach.
The Vikings led by as much as 14 in the second half, but the Golden Bears chipped away at the margin, eventually using a 10-2 run to take a 72-70 lead on a post-up by Nick Mabbutt with 2:32 to play. Wilkins put WWU back in front with a 3-pointer, and Austin Bragg (Jr., Longview) hit a free throw, giving the Vikings a 74-72 lead entering the final minute.
Guard Richard Woodworth (Jr., Bellevue/Newport) had 13 points and four assists for the Vikings. Severson and Bragg each added 11 points for WWU, and Chris Mitchell (Sr., Everson/Nooksack Valley) had nine points and a game-high 11 rebounds as the Vikings had a 39-31 advantage on the boards.
Concordia St. Paul jumped to a 14-7 lead behind a trio of Olstad 3-pointers just over four minutes into the game, and held a 19-14 advantage with 10:47 left in the first half. But WWU responded, going on a 17-2 run with Severson scoring seven of the points, to take a 31-21 advantage with 6:19 remaining. The Vikings held a 44-33 lead at halftime.
The Vikings are riding a 15-game winning streak at the Randall Classic, which last took place in 2009, and have won 20 of 22 tourney games overall, winning at least a share of the last seven championships and eight of 11 overall.
WWU hosts Southwest Baptist MO on Saturday (5 p.m.), Nov. 24, and Alaska Fairbanks plays Concordia St. Paul at 2:30 p.m. in final-day Randall Classic action.
Wilkins, Severson and Turner key Vikings' win
By Andrew Lang -- THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
The trio breathed life into the Western men's basketball team when it needed it most.
If it wasn't for a Wilkins clutch 3-pointer with 2 minutes remaining and a steal with 17 seconds left with Western leading by one possession, No. 5-ranked WWU might have suffered its first loss of the year.
The Vikings overcame a sluggish start, losing a 14 point second-half lead and a late deficit to edge upset-minded Concordia University St. Paul 80-76 during the WWU/Chuck Randall Thanksgiving Classic on Friday, Nov. 23, at Carver Gym.
"It felt like we were kind of sleepwalking out there the whole game," Wilkins said. "We got the lead, then I felt we relaxed again once we got that lead up. It's kind of different not having our fans here to keep us hyped when you get the lead."
Slowly Concordia chipped away at WWU's 60-47 lead with 13:25 left in the contest. The Golden Bears went on a 25-10 run during the next 11 minutes to take a 72-70 lead, which set up a 3 from Wilkins from the left elbow to give Western a 1-point advantage.
Leading 76-74, Wilkins stripped Concordia's Terez VanPelt, who finished with a game-high 23 points, as he drove the lane for the game-tying bucket. Western's John Allen made four free throws down the stretch to sew up the win.
"I came and coach told me he needs to me to be very aggressive and lock down on defense, so that was my main thought process - to not let them score," Wilkins said.
Severson gave Western (4-0) its energy burst in the first half. The senior guard, who's seen an expanded role this season, scored nine of his 11 points in the first half and helped the Vikings overcome a slow start.
When Turner, Severson and Wilkins entered the game with 11:17 to go in the first half, Western trailed 17-12. When Turner left with 3:43 to go until halftime, WWU held a 35-29 advantage.
Severson scored all of his nine first-half points in the span, and grabbed some key rebounds, as well.
"I'm getting a lot more minutes this year," Severson said. "I got a lot bigger role on the team, and I love that. I love being able to contribute more. I'm kind of an energy guy, do whatever, play defense, rebound and get shots when I'm open. When me, Rico and Anye come in, we just try to bring that energy."
They provided a much needed, heaping load of energy after Concordia seemed to have Western flustered in the opening minutes.
Severson, Turner and Wilkins were the only players to log minutes off Western's bench. They combined for 20 points, 11 rebounds and Wilkins essentially made the game-winning steal.
The Vikings led 44-33 at the break and picked up their level of play, extending the lead to 14 points with 16:08 to go.
But Concordia's Isaiah Thomas was 4 for 4 from the 3-point line in the second half and helped the Golden Bears overcome their deficit. VanPelt also was key in helping Concordia grab a late lead.
"It's mainly what we weren't doing," said Wilkins on how Concordia was able to come back. "Our main game plan every game is to deny 3s, and that basically is how they got back in it. They were hitting 3s all over."
The Vikings face Southwest Baptist in the finale of the WWU/Chuck Randall Classic at 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24, at Carver Gym.
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