GNAC-leading Vikings entertain Northwest Nazarene on Saturday
Jan. 20, 2012
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Coming off a regionally televised victory over defending league champion and arch-rival Central Washington University, the Western Washington University men's basketball team entertains Northwest Nazarene University on Saturday (7 p.m.), Jan. 21, at Sam Carver Gymnasium on the WWU campus.
The contest can be heard live on KPUG Radio (1170 AM - www.kpugradio.com) with Doug Lange handling the play-by-play and Mark Scholten providing the color commentary. It also can be viewed on the internet at http://wwu.nmtvsports.com and live stats are available at http://www.wwuvikings.com/multimedia/livestats.html.
The Vikings are 16-3 overall and in sole possession of first place in the GNAC standings at 7-1, following a 99-86 victory over Central on Wednesday before a crowd of 2,012.
Last week, WWU held on for a 73-68 win at Alaska Anchorage on Jan. 14 after rolling to a 101-81 victory at Alaska Fairbanks on Jan. 12.
The Vikings' sweep in Alaska was their second in as many years, something only one other school has accomplished in the 11-year history of the GNAC. In all, WWU has four Alaska road sweeps, a conference record.
WWU has beaten three of the four top 25 NCAA II teams it has faced this season, the lone loss being by just three points. The Vikings defeated No.10 Rollins FL, 80-61, then had a nine-game winning streak snapped in a 77-74 loss to No.18 Alabama Huntsville at their Great Western Shootout in Las Vegas on Dec. 15-16.
In its other two contests against top 25 opponents, WWU won 79-71 at No.19 Seattle Pacific on Dec. 3 and upset 2011 national runner-up and No.3 ranked BYU-Hawaii, 88-69, at Carver Gym on Nov. 21.
Senior forward Rory Blanche became the 22nd player in school history to score 1,000 career points when he hit a 10-foot floater with 14:40 left in the Central game. He has scored double-figures in 36 of his last 37 games, starting that stretch with 23 straight.
Blanche leads the team in both points and rebounds with respective per game averages of 16.0 and 7.3. He is fourth in the GNAC in scoring, fifth in offensive rebounds (2.9) and field-goal shooting (57.8 percent, 134-of-232); and eighth in rebounds.
Junior guard John Allen, whose performance in Alaska earned him GNAC Player of the Week honors, scored 32 points on 12-of-14 field-goal shooting in the win over Central. He is averaging 14.6 points, and ranks second in the GNAC in free throw percentage (87.7, 50-of-57), while being third in steals (2.2), seventh in three-point makes (2.4) and ninth in assists (3.4).
Senior forward Zach Henifin is averaging 11.4 points and 5.9 rebounds. He ranks third in the GNAC in steals (2.2) and 11th in blocked shots (0.8).
Junior guard Richard Woodworth leads the conference in three-point accuracy at 51.1 percent (23-of-45) and is 11th in field-goal percentage at 52.4 (76-of-145). He is averaging 10.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists.
Woodworth scored a career-high 25 points on 9-of-11 shooting at Alaska Fairbanks and had 11 points and eight assists at Alaska Anchorage.
Rounding out the first five is junior center Chris Mitchell, who is averaging 6.7 points and shooting 41.9 percent (18-of-43) from three-point range. He scored a career-high 20 points at Alaska Fairbanks.
WWU leads the GNAC in field-goal shooting (49.4, 582-of-1179) and steals (9.7 avg.) and is second in scoring offense (83.9) and blocks (4.4).
NORTHWEST NAZARENE: The Crusaders are 9-7 overall and 3-5 in league action, coming off an 88-81 win at Simon Fraser on Jan. 19. They have lost three of their last five games following a 7-4 start. The top returnee for first-year coach Dave Daniels (7th year overall, 89-102) is 6-1 senior guard Anthony Golden (15.4 ppg, 3.8 apg, 44.2 3-pt. pct. 53-120, 84.4 FT Pct. 38-45), who enters the game with 990 career points. Heading a contingent of standout transfers are 6-7 junior center J.B. Pillard (15.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 56.7 FG Pct.), who had 22 points and 19 rebounds in the win over Simon Fraser, and 6-1 junior guard Jordan Nicholes (5.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg), both from Whatcom CC, and 6-4 junior forward Keith Moilanen (12.4 ppg) from Lower Columbia CC. They were all second-team NWAACC region all-stars. Two more transfers making significant contributions are 6-3 junior guard Jonathan Hawkins (9.8 ppg, 89.3 FT Pct. 50-56) from Yavapai JC (Ariz.). NNU leads the GNAC in free throw percentage (76.0) and three-point makes (10.4) and is second in three-point percentage (39.2). WWU holds a 19-8 series advantage, but lost all three meetings last season (88-86 in overtime at Nampa, Id., 75-69 at Bellingham and 77-75 in first round of GNAC tournament at Bellingham) after eight straight series wins.
COACH JACKSON'S 500TH: The Vikings' win over Saint Martin's on Jan. 5 was the 500th career victory for WWU coach Brad Jackson, who became just the fifth four-year college hoop mentor in the state of Washington to reach that milestone and the 40th in NCAA II men's history. The previous four coaches in the state to accumulate 500 wins were Marv Harshman (Pacific Lutheran, Washington State, Washington) 637, Dean Nicholson (Central Washington) 620, Hec Edmundson (Washington) 508 and Leo Nicholson (Central Washington) 505.
VIKING NOTES: Eleven of WWU's 16 wins have been by double figures ... WWU has made 10 or more treys six times this season with a high of 14 against Rollins ... Blanche has scored double-figure points in 36 of his last 37 games, scoring a career-high 26 points against Simon Fraser on Dec. 31 after tying his career high with 14 rebounds versus Alabama Huntsville on Dec. 16 ... WWU is 11-1 against West Region foes ... Blanche has 1,006 points and 434 rebounds during his four-year career, and is hitting 59.8 percent (432-of-722) from the field ... Henifin was named GNAC Player of the Week for his all-tournament performance at the Great Western Shootout ... Both Allen and Blanche were all-tournament picks at the Disney West Coast Classic ... WWU lost senior forward Shedrick Nelson, a top reserve, for the season against Notre Dame de Namur on Nov. 11 when he tore both the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his right knee near the end of the game.
2010-11 RECAP: WWU returns four starters from last year's squad that finished 16-11 and reached the first round of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Tournament. Allen earned second-team GNAC all-star honors, averaging 14.3 points a game, including 43 in a victory over Simon Fraser, the second highest point total ever by a WWU player and a school record at Carver Gym. The Washington State transfer also led WWU in assists (4.1) and steals (1.7), and shot 91.5 percent at the free-throw line (65-of-71), which ranked second nationally. Blanche received honorable mention all-GNAC recognition, averaging 14.3 points and 6.8 rebounds while shooting 62.8 percent from the field to rank 14th nationally.
COACH JACKSON: Brad Jackson is in his 27th season, the longest tenure of any coach in WWU history in any sport. He is the most successful men's basketball coach in school history, both in total wins (503-277) and winning percentage (.645). Prior to this season, Jackson ranked No.13 among active NCAA II coaches in victories.
Jackson has directed the Vikings to 19 post-season appearances and 11 20-win seasons during his tenure. WWU reached the regional semifinals in 2010, losing 76-75 in overtime to eventual national champion Cal Poly Pomona.
The Jackson-led Vikings also have gotten to the NCAA II tournament in 2001, 2005, 2006 and 2009. In 2001, they finished 27-4 and reached the national semifinals, Jackson being named NABC/NCAA II West Region, Northwest small college and Pacific West Conference Coach of the Year.
JACKSON MILESTONE VICTORIES:
No.1 - Nov. 23, 1985 - WWU 89, British Columbia 78 - Victoria, B.C. No. 100 - Jan. 16, 1990 - WWU 73, Seattle U. 63 - Seattle, WA No. 200 - Feb. 16, 1995 - WWU 71, Puget Sound 63 - Tacoma, WA No. 276 - Jan. 4, 2001 - WWU 81, Chaminade 77 - Honolulu, HI (becomes school's all-time victory leader in men's basketball) No. 300 - Nov. 23, 2001 - WWU 98, Southern Colorado 70 - Bellingham No. 400 - Nov. 18, 2006 - WWU 67, Cal State L.A. 66 - Seattle, WA No. 412 - Nov. 23, 2007 - WWU 85, Northwest 69 - Bellingham (becomes school's all-time win leader for all sports) No. 450 - Nov. 21, 2009 - WWU 87, Dominican CA 72 - Seattle, WA No. 500 - Jan. 5, 2012 - WWU 76, Saint Martin's 71 - Bellingham
500-WIN FOUR-YEAR COLLEGIATE COACHES IN STATE OF WASHINGTON:
637 - Marv Harshman (Pacific Lutheran, Washington State, Washington) 620 - Dean Nicholson (Central Washington) 508 - Hec Edmundson (Washington) 505 - Leo Nicholson (Central Washington) 503 - Brad Jackson (Western Washington)
POST-SEASON: This year, the GNAC championship will be decided with a six-team tournament at Saint Martin's University (Marcus Pavilion) beginning Wednesday, Feb. 29. The No. 1 and No. 2 regular-season finishers will earn first round byes and play Wednesday's winners in semifinal action Friday, March 2. The championship game will be Saturday, March 3. Central Washington won the first GNAC tourney last year, when it consisted of eight teams and games were played at the highest seed.
GNAC COACHES TAB VIKINGS THIRD: WWU was picked to finish third in the preseason GNAC coaches poll. Alaska Anchorage, which won its only GNAC title in 2008 when it advanced to the NCAA II national semifinals, edged Seattle Pacific, 95-94. Both the Seawolves and Falcons, who won GNAC titles in 2002, 2006, 2007 and 2010 and have qualified for the NCAA II post-season in seven consecutive seasons, each received four first-place votes. Three-time conference champion WWU (2002, 2005, 2009) got a pair of first-place votes and placed third. Defending champion Central Washington was fourth.
RADIO BROADCASTS: Selected WWU games are being broadcast this season on KBAI Radio (930 AM - www.930kbai.com) 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: All Viking home games are being video streamed live and are available free at http://wwu.nmtvsports.com. For up-to-date statistics, box scores of every game, records, stories, etc., see the WWU Athletics 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.pennatlantic.com.
PROBABLE WESTERN STARTERS & TOP RESERVES:
G John Allen, 6-0, *Jr., Brier/Mountlake Terrace/Washington State G Richard Woodworth, 6-3, **Jr., Bellevue/Newport C Chris Mitchell, 6-8, **Jr., Everson/Nooksack Valley F Zach Henifin, 6-5, *Sr., Bellingham/Whatcom CC F Rory Blanche, 6-6, ***Sr., Ashland, OR/Ashland
CARVER GYM CELEBRATES 50TH ANNIVERSARY: Dedicated on March 30, 1962, WWU's Sam Carver Gymnasium is celebrating its 50th anniversary this season. It is named for Sanford E. Carver, a NAIA Hall of Famer who was Western's first director of athletics and the chairman of the physical education department from 1914-55. Carver Gym was an addition to the existing physical education facility. It added 54,233 square feet of floor space at a cost of $1.04 million. The most significant addition was the present main gymnasium. The facility opened in time for the 1961-62 basketball season, although it wasn't named for Carver until the dedication ceremony the following spring. Dr. James L. Jarrett, then Western's president, and Dr. E.V. Pullias, a professor at the University of Southern California, were the main speakers at the gathering. Basketball has been one of the primary activities at Carver Gym. The Seattle Pacific men were Western's opponent in the first game played on the new floor on Dec. 6, 1961. The Viking men have racked up an impressive record during their time in the building, going 492-157 (75.8 percent) in 50 years.
RECENT GAME SUMMARIES:
Jan. 12 - WWU 101, Alaska Fairbanks 81 at Fairbanks, AK
Richard Woodworth and Chris Mitchell each posted career highs with 25 and 20 points, respectively, as WWU defeated Alaska Fairbanks, 101-81, in a GNAC contest at Patty Center on the UAF campus. The Vikings also got 16 points each from Rory Blanche and John Allen. UAF fell to 4-12 overall and 1-5 in conference play. Center Sergej Pucar led the Nanooks with 25 points and forward Stefan Tica added 20. Woodworth, who scored 19 points in the first half, finished 9-of-11 from the field, hitting 5-of-6 three-pointers. Mitchell was 8-of-13 from the floor, making 3-of-6 treys. Blanche, who made 7-of-10 field goals, also had eight rebounds and five assists. Allen scored 14 of his points in the second half. The Vikings held an 8-6 lead four minutes into the contest, then held UAF to just one field goal in the next seven minutes, opening up a 30-12 advantage with 8:39 left in the first half. WWU led by as much as 21 in the opening period, but held only a 45-35 lead at halftime as UAF scored the final 10 points of the half. The Nanooks got within eight, 47-39, with two minutes gone in the second period, but a three-pointer by Mitchell gave WWU an 11-point advantage, 50-39, and the Vikings led by double figures the rest of the way. WWU had a 20-point lead 73-53, with 8:47 to go and its biggest margin was 23 points, 94-71, with 1:28 left. The Vikings shot 56.3 percent (36-of-64) from the field, hitting 11-of-23 three-pointers (47.8 percent), and converted 18-of-20 free throws (90.0 percent).
Jan 14 - WWU 73, Alaska Anchorage at Anchorage, AK
Rory Blanche had 18 points and John Allen added 17 as WWU completed an Alaska road trip sweep by defeating Alaska Anchorage, 73-68, in a GNAC contest at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex on the UAA campus. UAA fell to 11-4 overall and 5-2 in the GNAC. Center Taylor Rohde had game-highs of 26 points and eight rebounds for the Seawolves. WWU trailed just once in the second half, at 66-65 after two Rohde free throws with 1:49 to play. But a Blanche three-point play at the other end put the Vikings up by two with 1:35 to go, and after UAA missed a three-pointer, WWU worked the shot clock and Allen iced the game with a three-pointer for a 71-66 advantage with 20 seconds left. Richard Woodworth had 11 points and eight assists for WWU, which shot 54.0 percent (27-of-50) from the floor, with Blanche going 8-of-14 and Allen 6-of-9. WWU trailed, 31-29, at halftime, but opened the second half with nine straight points, seven of them by Allen, to take a 38-31 lead just 2:05 into the period. The Vikings led by 11, 53-42, with 10:52 to play, but the Seawolves rallied to tie the score at 59-59 on a Abebe Demissie three-pointer with 5:28 left. Travis Thompson had 11 points for UAA, and Kyle Fossman added 10. WWU made 9-of-19 treys, 47.4 percent.
Jan. 18 - WWU 99, Central Washington 86 at Bellingham
John Allen poured in 32 points on 12-of-14 field-goal shooting, leading WWU to a 99-86 triumph over arch-rival Central Washington in a GNAC contest at Carver Gym. The game was televised live regionally on ROOT Sports TV. Rory Blanche had 16 points for the Vikings, hitting the 1,000 mark in career scoring on a 10-foot floater with 14:40 to play and concluding the night with 1,006 points. CWU, the defending GNAC champion, fell to 8-8 overall and 2-6 in the GNAC with its fifth loss in the last six games. Guard Lacy Haddock had 20 points to pace the Wildcats, who fell to Western for the sixth time in the last seven meetings. Central was within six, 70-64, with a little over seven minutes to go, but then Allen took over, scoring the next 12 Viking points to put WWU in front, 82-68, with 4:02 left. The Wildcats got no closer than nine points after that. The Vikings never trailed, hitting five of their first six shots from the floor to take a 9-2 lead. WWU led by as much as 10 in the first half, and held a 41-35 lead at halftime. Paul Jones had 14 points off the bench for WWU, which shot 56.3 percent (36-of-64) from the field. Zach Henifin had 10 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Kevin Davis, Tyler Toussaint and Jordan Coby each had 16 points for Central. Davis and Roby Clyde each had 13 rebounds for the Wildcats.
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