Western home to play two GNAC foes
Jan. 7, 2008
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -
UPDATE: It may only be the second week of conference play, but this weekend's home games already have added importance for the Western Washington University men's basketball team.
The Vikings, who opened Great Northwest Athletic Conference action last week by splitting a pair of road contests, entertain Saint Martin's on Thursday (7 p.m.) and Western Oregon on Saturday (7 p.m.) on Haggen Court at Sam Carver Gymnasium. With the league race expected to be extremely tight and berths in the West Regional hotly contested, winning at home is essential.
Western, 8-3 overall and 5-0 at home in non-league games, rallied from a two-point halftime deficit by shooting 69 percent from the field in the second half for an 82-63 win at Northwest Nazarene, then was unable to hold onto a six-point halftime advantage in losing 77-70 at nationally No.17-ranked and defending league co-champion Seattle Pacific.
All three of the Vikings' setbacks this season have been to Top 25 ranked teams in the National Association of Basketball Coaches Poll. The other two were to defending West Region champion and No.10-rated Cal State San Bernardino.
Saint Martin's, 6-5 overall and 1-1 in league play, had a five-game winning streak snapped last Saturday in a 66-42 loss to Alaska Anchorage. The Saints are led by Division II Bulletin preseason All-America 5-10 junior guard Jake Linton, who is averaging 17.8 points and 3.5 assists and is making 95.9 percent of his free throws (70-of-73). Linton was a first-team GNAC all-star last season, averaging 20.2 points and 5.2 assists.
Two other top players for the Saints, coached by Keith Cooper (5th year), are honorable mention all-GNAC 6-5 senior forward Brendan Campbell (13.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and 6-7 junior center Bill Richardson (12.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg, .560 FG Pct.), who missed last season with a broken wrist after earning first-team NWAACC all-region honors at Grays Harbor CC.
Western, which split with the Saints last season, has won 12 of the last 13 meetings and holds a 115-57 series advantage.
Western Oregon, 7-4 overall and 0-2 in conference action, has a huge trio of post players. Two are returnees - 6-8 junior forward Travis Kuhns (14.2 ppg, 3.3 apg, 4.2 rpg, 2.0 spg), who was the 2005-06 GNAC Freshman of the Year, and 6-11 senior Adonal Arrington (10.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg, .578 FG Pct.) - and 7-3 senior Liam Hughes (7.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg, .623 FG Pct.) is a transfer from Oregon State where he played in 21 games.
Another top returnee for coach Craig Stanger (3rd year) is 5-10 senior guard Brad Krichevsky (13.7 ppg), and another talented transfer is 6-5 junior guard Sam Kelly (11.7 ppg) from Salt Lake CC, the son of former WOU coach Tim Kelly.
WOU leads the GNAC in both field goal shooting (50.9 percent) and rebounding margin (10.5 avg.).
Western has won five of the last six series meetings with the Wolves and holds a 31-10 all-time edge.
Western junior guard Ira Graham leads the GNAC in scoring, averaging 20.2 points per game. He is shooting 58.5 percent from the field (86-of-147). Graham had a school-record 10-game streak snapped as the Vikings' leading scorer in a 14-point effort against Northwest Nazarene, but began a new string with 28 points on 10-of-13 field goal shooting versus Seattle Pacific.
Graham, who also tops the team in assists with a 3.1 average, has been named to three all-tournament teams this season. He scored a career-high 32 points in an 87-75 victory over Cal State Monterey Bay on Nov. 19.
The only other Viking averaging double-figure points is transfer junior forward Steve Alford from Bakersfield (Calif.) College. Alford, who had 25 points on 11-of-17 floor accuracy, nine rebounds and four steals in the win over Northwest Nazarene, is averaging 11.9 points and 5.4 rebounds. He has scored double figures in each of the last seven games.
Junior forward Calin Schell, who has been picked to two all-tourney teams this season, is averaging 9.7 points and a team-best 7.4 rebounds. Sophomore center Steve Severin is contributing 6.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and is tied for the GNAC lead in blocked shots with 21.
With Graham in the backcourt is junior Derrick Webb. A transfer from Highline CC, he is averaging 8.5 points.
Alford and Webb were JC all-star picks last year, while Graham, Schell and Severin started on last year's 11-15 Viking team.
McAllister is averaging 6.7 points, shooting 64.9 percent from the field (24-of-37), including 13-of-21 on 3-pointers for a GNAC-leading 61.9 percent. He set a school record by making eight straight 3-pointers over a four-game stretch and tied another WWU mark by hitting all five of his 3-pointers against Multnomah Bible.
Bruce is contributing 5.5 points and 3.0 rebounds, while Pegues is averaging 5.0 points.
Western is averaging 85.0 points, second in the league, and leads the GNAC in 3-point percentage defense at 29.4 percent (57-of-194), scoring margin (16.6), steals (8.6) and blocked shots (4.7).
Jan. 10 (Thu.) SAINT MARTIN'S* (CARVER GYM - 7 p.m.) Jan. 12 (Sat.) WESTERN OREGON*# (CARVER GYM - 7 p.m.) Jan. 17 (Thu.) at Alaska Fairbanks* (Fairbanks, AK - Patty Center - 7:30 p.m.) Jan. 19 (Sat.) at Alaska Anchorage* (Anchorage, AK - Wells Fargo Sports Complex - 7 p.m.)
THREE-DOT NOTES: Graham has scored double figures in 16 straight games ... Opponents are shooting 74.1 percent (149-of-201) at the free throw line, while the Vikings are hitting just 63.3 percent (171-of-270) ... Bruce has made 13-of-18 (72.2 percent) field goals over the last four games ... Western scored 125 points in its victory over Multnomah Bible on Dec. 15, the first time that the Vikings had reached the century mark since the 2005-06 campaign ... Brad Jackson has 417 career victories (242 losses) in 23 years as head coach. That gives him the school record for wins by a coach in any sport. Current WWU director of athletics Lynda Goodrich posted 411 victories in 19 campaigns as the Vikings' women's basketball coach from 1971-90 ... Alford was a first-team conference all-star at Bakersfield College, and Webb was co-MVP of the NWAACC Western Division last year at Highline CC, while Bruce was a second-team all-NWAACC Western Region all-star.
FOOD DRIVE: The WWU Athletics Department will be conducting a food drive throughout the month of January to help restock the Whatcom County Food Bank. Bring nonperishable food items to any of the Vikings' six home basketball games during January and receive $1 off admission. For more information, call (360) 650-4314.
COACH JACKSON: Brad Jackson, who chairs the NCAA Men's Basketball Rules Committee where he has been a Division II representative for four years, is in his 23rd year and is the most successful men's coach in school history, both in total wins (417-242) and winning percentage (.633). He ranks No.19 among active NCAA II coaches in victories and 35th in winning percentage. In 2001, Jackson directed Western to a 27-4 record and the semifinals of the NCAA II National Championship, being named NABC/NCAA II West Region, Northwest small college and Pacific West Conference Coach of the Year. Five times named district/region Coach of the Year, Jackson has directed Western to 16 post-season playoff appearances, including district/region/conference championships and national tournament appearances in 1988, 1994, 2001, 2005 and 2006. He has had nine 20-win campaigns (1986-90, 1993-94, 2000-01, 2001-02, 2004-05, 2005-06).
RADIO BROADCASTS: Selected Western games are being broadcast this season on KBAI Radio (930 AM) with Doug Lange handling the play-by-play and Mark Scholten providing the color commentary. They also can be heard on the internet at www.wwuvikings.com.
ON THE WEB: For up-to-date statistics, box scores of every game, records, stories, etc., see the Western Athletic web page at www.wwuvikings.com. Up-to-date league standings and statistics can be found on the Great Northwest Athletic Conference web page at www.gnacsports.com.
PROBABLE WESTERN STARTERS & TOP RESERVES:
G Ira Graham, 6-1, **Jr., Fontana, CA/Fontana G Derrick Webb, 6-3, Jr., Port Orchard/South Kitsap/Highline CC C Steve Severin, 6-10, *So., Richland, WA/Hanford F Steve Alford, 6-5, Jr., Bakersfield, CA/South/Bakersfield College F Calin Schell, 6-7, **Jr., Chelan, WA/ChelanGAME SUMMARIES:
Jan. 3 - WESTERN 82, Northwest Nazarene 62 at Nampa, ID
Alford scored a game-high 25 points, 17 in the second half, as Western rallied from a two-point halftime deficit, shooting 69.0 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes, to defeat Northwest Nazarene, 82-63, at Johnson Sports Center. It was the Great Northwest Athletic Conference opener for both schools. The Vikings, who were coming off a two-week holiday break, improved to 8-2. Trailing 31-29 at halftime, they made 20-of-29 field goals in the second half. Alford, who also grabbed a game-high nine rebounds, was 8-of-10 from the floor in the second half and finished 11-of-17. It was his sixth straight game scoring double figures. NNU, which got off to a school-best 8-0 start before losing to NCAA Division I Idaho State, 71-66, last Saturday, fell to 8-2. The Crusaders had four double-figure scorers, led by guard Tyler Roberts with 13 points. Graham, who played only six minutes in the first half because of foul trouble, finished with 14 points for Western, 10 in the second half. Schell had 13 points and seven rebounds for the Vikings, and Bruce came off the bench to add 10 points. Schell and Bruce were each 5-of-6 from the field as Western shot 57.9 percent (33-of-57) for the game. Western opened the second half with an 11-3 run over the first 3:30 to lead 40-34 on a 3-pointer by Graham. Ahead by eight, 51-43 with 11:35 remaining, the Vikings outscored NNU 15-3 for a 20-point advantage, 66-46, on a 3-pointer by Schell with 4:34 to go. Western's biggest lead was 23 points twice in the final 2:04. The Vikings trailed most of the first half, being behind by as many as five points on three occasions. Graham picked up his second foul six minutes into the contest and did not play the rest of the period, while NNU made 5-of-8 3-pointers and the Vikings were 0-of-3 from beyond the arc. NNU shot just 36.7 percent (11-of-30) in the second half and finished at 41.8 percent (23-of-55), hitting only 2-of-12 3-pointers in the final period.
Jan. 5 - Seattle Pacific 77, WESTERN 70 at Seattle, WA
Graham scored a game-high 28 points, but Western fell to nationally ranked Seattle Pacific, 77-70, in a GNAC game at Royal Brougham Pavilion. SPU, rated No.17 in the latest National Association of Basketball Coaches Top 25 Poll, improved to 9-2 overall and 1-1 in the conference. Guard Marques Echols had 23 points for the Falcons and center Rob Will added 21. The Vikings led 34-28 at halftime, and held a 46-39 advantage with under 17 minutes left. But Seattle Pacific went on a 12-4 run to take a 51-50 lead on a layup by Brandon Larrieu with 11:09 to play and took the lead for good at 58-56 on a tip in by Will with 8:12 left. Western was within two, 64-62, with three minutes left, but the Falcons, aided by a technical foul, scored the next six points to go up by eight, 70-62, with 2:12 left. The Vikings never got closer than three after that and did not have an opportunity to tie the game. Alford was the only other Viking in double figures, scoring 11 points. Western led much of the first half, using a 14-3 run to take a 20-12 lead with 9:30 left and leading by as much as 11 in the period. Seattle Pacific was 33-of-38 (86.8 percent) on free throws, with Echols going 13-of-13. Western was 16-of-22 (72.3 percent). The Falcons had a 43-30 rebound advantage with forward Jojay Jackson grabbing a game-high 12 boards.
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