No.5 Vikings open GNAC play by edging Western Oregon, 67-66

WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM Robert Harris, Jr.
WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM
Robert Harris, Jr.
WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM

Dec. 5, 2013

Box Score

BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Guard Richard Woodworth (Sr.,Bellevue/Newport) hit two free throws with 1.9 seconds remaining, lifting Western Washington University to a 67-66 men's basketball triumph over Western Oregon University on Thursday in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference opener for both schools at Sam Carver Gymnasium on the WWU campus.

The Vikings, ranked No.5 in this week's National Association of Basketball Coaches/NCAA Division II Top 25 Poll, improved to 5-0 with the triumph and extended their school and GNAC record home winning streak to 32 games. Guard Robert Harris, Jr., (Sr., Kent/Rainier Beach) had a game-high 23 points for WWU on 9-of-14 field-goal shooting.

WOU slipped to 4-4. Forward Andy Avgi, playing for the first time since the Wolves' season-opener, came off the bench to score 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds.

WWU seemed to have the game under control, holding a 59-49 lead with 5:29 to play. But WOU scored the next seven points to close the margin to three, 59-56, with 2:31 left, and eventually pulled to within one, 61-60, on a Rodney Webster layup with 1:24 to go.

Each team scored on its next two possessions, but WWU's Joey Schreiber (R-Fr., Renton/Eastside Catholic) missed two free throws with 19.9 seconds left, and Avgi converted a putback with 6.0 seconds to go to give WOU a 66-65 advantage.

The Vikings then went without a timeout, and Woodworth was fouled trying to elevate through two defenders. After Woodworth's free throws, the Wolves threw long to Avgi, who caught the ball just inside the foul line and missed a 13-foot bank shot at the buzzer.

Woodworth, who played just four minutes in the first half because of foul trouble, finished with 12 points. Center Austin Bragg (Sr., Longview/Mark Morris) had 11 points and a game-high 15 rebounds, and Colby Mitchell (Jr., Chugiak, AK) added 11 points off the bench.

The Vikings played most of the night without starting forward Anye Turner (Jr., Tumwater/Black Hills), who left with an ankle injury just 1:40 into the game and did not return.

Adam Hastings had 13 points on 6-of-8 floor accuracy for WOU. Webster and Marwan Sarhan each added 10 points for the Wolves, who had a 41-38 advantage in rebounds but were just 14-of-29 (48.3 percent) on free throws.

WOU held a 26-23 lead at halftime and had a 33-32 advantage with just over 16 minutes remaining, but the Vikings went on a 10-1 run, with Schreiber scoring the last five points, to take a 42-34 lead with 13:53 left.

The Wolves were the last team to defeat WWU at Carver Gym, winning, 83-73, on Jan. 7, 2012.

WWU has now gone 34-3 in GNAC games over the past two seasons and has a 17-game home win streak in conference contests.

The Vikings continue their season-opening stretch of eight home games on Saturday, Dec. 7 (7 p.m.), with a GNAC counter against Saint Martin's.