Western to battle Alaska teams at Carver Gym

WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM Lukas Henne
WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM
Lukas Henne
WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM

Jan. 22, 2007

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BELLINGHAM, Wash. -

UPDATE: Looking to maintain its run of home success, the Western Washington University men's basketball team completes its three-game home stand with a pair of Great Northwest Athletic Conference games this week on Haggen Court at Sam Carver Gymnasium, facing University of Alaska Anchorage on Thursday (7 p.m.) and University of Alaska Fairbanks on Saturday (3 p.m.).

The Vikings are 9-6 overall and in a three-way tie for third place in the GNAC at 3-2 after opening the home stand with a 79-77 overtime victory against archrival Central Washington on Saturday. That triumph made Western 7-1 at Carver Gym this season, and the Vikings have won 34 of their last 35 regular-season home games.

Alaska Anchorage is 12-4 overall and 3-2 in the GNAC after splitting a pair of road games last week. Alaska Fairbanks is 11-8 overall and 2-3 in the GNAC and has lost its last two games.

Senior forward Lukas Henne continues to lead Western in virtually every statistical category. He is averaging 19.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks, shooting 55.0 percent (99-of-180) from the field and 88.8 percent (87-of-98) on free throws. Henne ranks second in the GNAC in both scoring and blocked shots and third in rebounding. Henne has scored 20 points or more in nine games, including five of the last six contests, a stretch in which he is averaging 22.2 points a game.

Sophomore guard Ira Graham is averaging 15.5 points and a team-high 3.8 assists. Junior forward Brett Weisner is averaging 11.6 points in eight games since returning to action following a torn ACL suffered last April.

Completing the starting lineup are sophomore forward Calin Schell and freshman center Steve Severin. Schell is averaging 8.1 points and 6.5 rebounds. Severin is averaging 5.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocked shots, ranking third in the GNAC in the latter category.

Freshman guard Harold McAllister, who has started six games, leads the GNAC in 3-point percentage at 53.5 percent (23-of-43). He is averaging 7.4 points and a team-high 1.2 steals. Freshman guard Brandon Williams, who has made seven starts, is averaging 7.1 points.

The Vikings have been solid defensively, leading the GNAC in blocked shots (4.67 avg.) and being second in defensive field-goal percentage (44.5).

Western opened the season 5-1 and is 4-5 since. However, two of the losses during that stretch were to Top 25-ranked teams and five of the contests were on the road.

Western coach Brad Jackson, in his 22nd season, has 407 career victories. That is four shy of 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.

UPCOMING GAMES:

Jan. 25 (Thu.) UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA ANCHORAGE* (BELLINGHAM), 7 p.m.
Jan. 27 (Sat.) UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA FAIRBANKS*# (BELLINGHAM), 3 p.m.
Feb. 1 (Thu.) at Central Washington University*# (Ellensburg), 7:30 p.m.

Home games (all caps) on Haggen Court at Sam Carver Gymnasium #broadcast on KBAI Radio (930 AM) and via the internet at wwuvikings.com *Great Northwest Athletic Conference contest

THREE-DOT NOTES: Henne, who is the only Viking to score double-figure points in every game this season, has made 34-of-41 free throws (82.9 percent) and 47-of-84 field goals (56.0 percent) over the last six games ... Severin has had at least one blocked shot in every game this season ... Western is 7-1 at Carver Gym this season, winning 34 of its last 35 regular-season home contests ... Two of Western's losses were to Top 25-ranked opponents at the first Great Western Shootout on Dec. 19-20. After a narrow 67-64 loss to No.22 Cal Poly Pomona, the host Vikings fell 86-67 to No.24 Cal State San Bernardino ... The Vikings, who are shooting 44.9 percent from the floor, have not shot below 46.4 percent from the field for a season since hitting 44.4 percent during the 1999-2000 campaign ... Western's home game with Pacific Lutheran on Nov. 28 was postponed because of winter weather conditions that forced closure of the school for two days. The contest will not be made up.

Henne was named MVP at the WWU Chuck Randall Thanksgiving Classic and was an all-tourney choice at the Seattle Pacific Tip-Off Classic. He also was a GNAC Player of the Week for Nov. 19-25 ... Graham was an all-tourney pick at both the Great Western Shootout and Randall Classic ... The last time Western did not score 100 points in a game during a season was 1983-84 ... Just five letter winners and no starters return from last year's 23-7 Viking team that reached the championship game of the NCAA Division II West Regional. It was the first time that Western had made back-to-back appearances in the national tournament (reached regional semifinals in 2004-05). The Vikings, who placed second in the GNAC with a 13-5 record, had their second straight 20-win season and their fourth in the last six years.

COACH JACKSON: Brad Jackson is in his 22nd year and is the most successful men's coach in school history, both in total wins (407-230) and winning percentage (.639). 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 either Mark Scholten, Jason Stiles or Ervin Kuehbler 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, *So., Fontana, CA/Fontana
G Brett Weisner, 6-5, **Jr., Spokane, WA/Shadle Park/Eastern Washington
C Steve Severin, 6-10, Fr., Richland, WA/Hanford
F Lukas Henne, 6-7, ***Sr., Bremerton, WA/Central Kitsap
F Calin Schell, 6-7, *So., Chelan, WA/Chelan

G Harold McAllister, 6-0, Fr., Vancouver, WA/Mountain View G Brandon Williams, 6-4, Fr., Chicago, IL/Thornton Fractional North F Gabe Thrash, 6-8, Fr., Gardena, CA/Gardena *letters

OPPONENT SKETCHES:

UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA ANCHORAGE: The Seawolves (12.4 overall, 3-2 GNAC, 9-3 home, 3-1 road) tied for fourth in the GNAC last year (19-12, 10-8) and were picked to place third in the preseason coaches poll. Two starters return for coach Rusty Osborne (3rd year, 42-32) - 6-0 junior guard Luke Cooper (5.1 ppg, 8.1 apg - 2nd nationally, Eltham, Australia), who has led the GNAC in assists the last two years, and 6-6 junior center Carl Arts (14.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 3.0 apg). Another top returnee is 6-2 senior guard Eric Draper (15.7 ppg). Five talented newcomers have been seeing plenty of action. They are 6-7 sophomore forward Ivan Platenik (9.1 ppg) from Australia, 6-5 junior forward Allen McFarland (3.4 ppg), who played at Salt Lake CC and NCAA I Western Illinois University, 6-5 freshman forward Trenton Millar (5.5 ppg), a two-time Alaska all-state pick, 6-8 junior center McCade Olsen (11.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg), a two-time Region IX pick at Eastern Wyoming College who led the region in scoring last season with a 21.7 points per game average, and 6-3 senior guard Buddy Bailey (6.8 ppg), who played three seasons at NAIA Cal Baptist University. UAA ranks fourth nationally in field goal percentage (52.6), and ninth in both scoring margin (16.9) and free throw accuracy (77.1). Western, which leads the series 6-5, split a pair of meetings last season.

UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA FAIRBANKS: The Nanooks (11-8 overall, 2-3 league, 7-5 home, 4-3 road, Jan. 25 at Seattle U.), who have lost three of their last five games, tied for fourth place in the GNAC last season (17-10, 10-8) and were picked to place seventh in the preseason coaches poll. They have qualified for the NCAA tournament in three of the last four seasons, twice sharing the GNAC title. One starter returns for coach Frank Ostanik (3rd year, 39-21) - 6-3 junior guard Kenny Barker (15.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 3.0 apg). Another top returnee is 6-2 junior guard Mike Titus (10.1 ppg). Three talented transfers complete the starting five. They are 6-5 senior forward Jushay Rockett (20.6 ppg, 9.8 rpg) from NCAA I Texas State University, 5-9 junior guard Barry Barnes (8.8 ppg, 5.4 apg) from Long Beach City College and 6-8 sophomore center Colin Matteson (7.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg) from Edmonds CC. Western leads the series 13-6.

CENTRAL WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: The Wildcats (7-10 overall, 2-4 GNAC, Jan. 27 host Seattle Pacific), who have played just three homes games to date, were picked to win the GNAC title in the preseason coaches poll after finishing in a fourth-place tie last year (15-13 overall, 10-8 league). They have split their last eight games after a 3-6 start. Nine letter winners return for coach Greg Sparling (12th season, 193-140), including three starters. They are 6-6 senior forward Lance Den Boer (16.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 89.7 FT Pct. - 6th nationally), a second-team all-GNAC pick, 6-2 sophomore guard Johnny Spevak (3.2 apg) and 6-9 senior forward Grant Assink (6.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg), who played one season at Western. Heading a standout group of newcomers are 6-8 senior center Bryan Freshwater (10.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg), who redshirted last year after transferring from Alaska Anchorage, 6-0 junior guard Nate Jackson (5.7 ppg) from Highline CC, and 6-0 junior guard Tyler Monk (10.6 ppg) from Bakersfield College. Central holds a 148-85 series advantage with Western winning the last five meetings, including a 79-77 overtime victory at Bellingham on Jan. 20, and 11 of the last 13 after the Wildcats had taken 10 of the previous 11.

GAME SUMMARY:

Jan. 20 - WESTERN 79, Central Washington 77 (OT) at Bellingham, WA Henne hit two free throws with 2.5 seconds left as Western defeated arch-rival Central Washington, 79-77 in overtime, in a GNAC game Saturday at Carver Gym before a crowd of 2,370. Henne scored 18 of his game-high 23 points after halftime. Central, the preseason coaches poll pick to win the GNAC, fell to 7-10 overall and 2-4 in conference play. Center Grant Assink had 17 points for the Wildcats, 11 of them in the first half, and forward Lance Den Boer added 15, all after halftime. Tremaine Curry had given Central a 75-73 lead on a baseline dunk with 2:14 left in overtime. Weisner, who had 14 points, hit two free throws to tie the game with 1:15 left, then Schell scored on a putback with 33 seconds left to put the Vikings in front, 77-75. Den Boer then made two free throws with 21.7 seconds to play, tying the score at 77-77 to set up Henne's late heroics. Curry's desperation halfcourt shot at the final buzzer was short. Graham had 18 points for Western, 12 of them in the second half. Both teams finished the game 28-of-68 (41.2 percent) from the field, and the contest featured 16 ties and 24 lead changes. The Wildcats held a 67-62 lead with under three minutes left in regulation, but Western responded as Graham fed Henne for an alley-oop dunk, then drove the lane himself for a bucket to cut the lead to one, 67-66. Central's Johnny Spevak hit a free throw with 47 seconds left to extend the lead to two, but Henne tied the score at 68-68 on a baseline jumper with 33.8 seconds to go in the second half. The Wildcats played for a final shot, and guard Colton Monti drove the lane, but Western's Severin blocked the shot and forced a jump ball, giving the Vikings the ball with 3.1 seconds left. Henne's desperation attempt from just inside the midcourt line was short, forcing overtime. Western held a 52-51 lead with nine minutes to go, Central went on a 10-3 run, with Den Boer scoring eight of the points, to take a 61-55 advantage, its biggest of the game, with 7:08 left. The first half was tightly contested, with nine ties and 12 lead changes, and no lead of more than four points. A 3-pointer by McAllister with five seconds left gave Western a 33-31 lead at halftime. Central shot just 30.6 percent (11-of-36) from the field in the first half, and Western hit only 36.7 percent (11-of-30).