No. 24 Vikings at No.15 Seattle Pacific

WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM Richard Woodworth
WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM
Richard Woodworth
WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM

Feb. 14, 2014

BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Coming off a disappointing loss, the Western Washington University men's basketball team closes out a stretch of three road contests Saturday (7:30 p.m.), traveling to conference-leading Seattle Pacific University for a Great Northwest Athletic Conference contest featuring two nationally ranked rivals.

The game will be broadcast on KBAI Radio (Bellingham-930 AM) with Doug Lange providing the play-by-play and Mark Scholten handling the color commentary. Live stats and a video stream are available at wwuvikings.com.

THE LAST MEETING
NCAA II West Regional - Championship Game - Seattle Pacific58
Western Washington62
March 19, 2013
BELLINGHAM
NCAA DIVISION II MEN'S WEST REGIONAL - CHAMPIONSHIP - Western Washington 62, Seattle Pacific 58
Tourney Most Outstanding Player Richard Woodworth (Jr., Bellevue/Newport) had a team-high 15 points, including two game-clinching free throws with 7.7 seconds left, lifting defending national champion Western Washington University to a 62-58 victory over Seattle Pacific University on Tuesday in the championship game of the West Regional of the 2013 NCAA Division II Men's Basketball Tournament before a crowd of 2,521 at Sam Carver Gymnasium on the campus of host Western Washington University.

The Vikings, who moved back into the National Basketball Coaches Association/NCAA Division II Top 25 Poll this week at No. 24, are 16-5 overall and second in the GNAC standings at 10-3, following a 102-101 overtime loss at Montana State Billings on Thursday.

Seattle Pacific, 21-4 overall and 12-2 in GNAC action, increased its conference lead with an 89-79 win over Simon Fraser on Thursday. The Falcons, ranked No.15 nationally and 10-1 at home this season, are riding a 10-game victory string.

The Vikings were without starting forward Anye Turner at MSUB. He dislocated the big toe on his right foot during the first half of an 84-83 win at Simon Fraser last Saturday.

WWU may get a boost next week as freshman forward Joey Schreiber is expected to return to action after missing eight games with facial fractures suffered in an 82-69 home win over Simon Fraser on Jan. 11.

Schreiber underwent surgery and has been fitted with a protective mask. He made 11 starts in his first 13 games, averaging 12.0 points.

Three of WWU's five losses this season have been to teams currently ranked among the top 25 nationally. They were to No.4 Tarleton State, No. 15 Seattle Pacific and No.17 Cal State San Bernardino.

WWU's biggest win of the season came at home on Nov. 30 over No.1 Metro State .

WWU's 76-60 loss to SPU at Bellingham on Jan. 15 snapped the Vikings' school-record 36-game home court victory string.

NCAA II AND GNAC STATS: WWU ranks fourth nationally among NCAA II schools in blocked shots per game at 5.9 and is sixth in total blocks with 123. The Vikings are seventh in 3-point field-goal percentage defense at 29.0 and 13th in scoring offense (87.5). WWU tops the GNAC in scoring offense (87.5), 3-point percentage defense (29.0), field-goal percentage defense (49.5), blocks (5.9) and offensive rebounds (13.4).

WOODWORTH: Senior guard Richard Woodworth, who scored a career-high 33 points in the victory at Simon Fraser, is averaging 17.4 points per game and is shooting a team-best 43.1 percent (31-of-72) from 3-point range and 84.5 percent (98-of-116) at the free throw line. He became the 24th Viking to reach 1,000 points in a career while scoring 24 against Alaska Anchorage on Jan. 2. His current total of 1,159 ranks 17th and he is 16th in assists at 313. Woodworth scored 30 points, 24 in the second half, versus Cal State San Bernardino on Dec. 21, and he had 28 at Central Washington on Jan. 23 and 26 at Montana State Billings on Feb. 13, 19 after halftime.

BRAGG: Senior center Austin Bragg ranks among the top five in the GNAC in five categories. He leads in rebounds at 9.0 per game, is second in blocks at 1.8, third in offensive rebounds at 3.0, and fifth in field-goal percentage at 58.1 (125-of-215) and scoring at 16.8.

On Feb. 1 in a home victory over Alaska Anchorage, Bragg had just the second triple-double in school history and only the third in GNAC history, finishing with 13 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. He tops the GNAC in double-doubles this season with nine after leading the conference last year with eight.

Bragg has earned conference POW honors twice this season and three times during his two-year career at WWU after transferring from Clark CC. His first POW honor this season was when he had 20 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks in a win over nationally No.1-ranked Metro State on Nov. 30, and his second award came after the Vikings swept a two-game home stand with Alaska Fairbanks and Alaska Anchorage.

Bragg has shot 50 percent or better from the floor 19 times this season. In WWU's win over Simon Fraser on Jan. 11, Bragg had 30 points and 17 rebounds, both career highs.

TURNER: Junior forward Anye Turner ranks second among GNAC leaders in blocks at 1.9 per game, third in rebounds at 8.2, sixth in field-goal shooting at 57.6 (76-of-132) and eighth in steals at 1.4.

On the season, he is averaging 10.0 points and has had four double-doubles. Turner grabbed 20 rebounds in a win over Thompson Rivers on Dec. 17, tying the most by a WWU player since 2003 and five short of the school record.

UPCOMING GAMES:

Feb. 15 (Sat.) at Seattle Pacific*# (Seattle, WA - 7:30 p.m.)
Feb. 20 (Thu.) NORTHWEST NAZARENE*# (Carver Gym - 7 p.m.)
Feb. 22 (Sat.) CENTRAL WASHINGTON*#@ (Carver Gym - 7 p.m.)
Feb. 27 (Thu.) at Saint Martin's*# (Lacey, WA - 7 p.m.)
March 1 (Sat.) at Western Oregon* (Monmouth, OR - 3 p.m.)

*Great Northwest Athletic Conference contest @televised on ROOT Sports (Comcast Channel 30, DirecTV: Channel 687, Dish Network: Channel 426) #broadcast on KBAI Radio (930 AM) and on internet at wwuvikings.com %broadcast on KPUG Radio (1170 AM) and on internet at wwuvikings.com

SEATTLE PACIFIC: The Falcons, who have made nine straight NCAA tournament appearances, the longest current string of any Division II school, are ranked No.15 nationally, 21-4 overall and 12-2 in GNAC action. They lead the GNAC in field goal shooting (51.3 percent, 9th nationally) and 3-point accuracy (43.5, 4th nationally). SPU is led by Pre-season GNAC Player of the Year and first-team GNAC all-star 6-2 senior guard David Downs (19.3 ppg, 4.8 apg, 52.1 FG Pct., 86.8 FT Pct., 50.0 3-pt. Pct., 67-of-134, 4th nationally), GNAC Defensive Player of the Year 6-4 junior guard Riley Stockton (7.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 3.9 apg, 1.4 spg), and second-team GNAC all-star 6-8 senior forward Patrick Simon (16.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 52.9 3-pt. Pct., 63-of-119, 1st nationally). Two other solid returnees are 6-8 junior center Cory Hutsen (11.5 ppg, 52.7 FG Pct.) and 6-5 sophomore forward Mitch Penner (9.8 ppg, 58.0 FG Pct.). A top newcomer for coach Ryan Looney (5th year, 113-32; 10th overall, 208-87) is 6-5 junior forward Matt Borton (7.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg), a transfer from NCAA I Idaho. Last year, SPU finished 27-4, won the GNAC Tournament title and reached the West Regional final for the second straight season where it again lost to WWU. WWU trails 78-51 in the series, but has won six of the last eight meetings. SPU won 76-60 at Bellingham on Jan. 15, snapping the Vikings' school-record 36-game home court winning streak. SPU was the preseason favorite of the GNAC coaches and ranked No.1 nationally in The Sporting News pre-season ranking and No.3 in the Division II Bulletin pre-season rating.

SCHREIBER TO RETURN: Redshirt freshman forward Joey Schreiber, who has been out of action since mid-January, is expected to return next week. He has been fitted with a protective mask after undergoing surgery for facial fractures suffered in an 82-69 win over Simon Fraser on Jan. 11. Schreiber was injured just 23 seconds into the second half of that contest, catching an inadvertent elbow from a SFU player while going for a rebound. He sustained fractures to the eye socket and sinus area on the right side of his face. The 6-foot-7, 200-pound Schreiber had started 11 of WWU's 13 games up to that time. He was averaging 12.0 points a game, shooting 50.5 percent (55-of-109) from the field, including 40.4 percent (19-of-47) from 3-point range. Schreiber has had eight double-figure scoring games with a high of 23 points in a 67-66 win over Western Oregon on Dec. 5.

FREE THROWS: WWU is shooting 68.3 percent at the free-throw line this season, the only team in the GNAC under 70 percent. But the Vikings have had some exceptional games at the charity stripe, hitting 87.0 percent (20-of-23) at Northwest Nazarene, 81.3 percent (26-of-32) against Thompson Rivers, 79.5 percent (35-of-44) at Alaska Anchorage, 78.1 percent (25-of-32) vs. Tarleton State and 77.1 percent (27-of-35) vs. Montana State Billings.

NABC TOP 25 POLL: After a three-week absence, WWU returned to the NABC/NCAA II Top 25 Poll on Tuesday at No.24. On Jan. 21, WWU fell out of the ranking for the first time since Jan. 10, 2012. That snapped a school-record streak of 31national poll appearances.

SEASON HIGHLIGHTS TO DATE:

Nov. 19 - Tied school record with 19-point, second-half comeback in 80-74 win over BYU Hawaii.

Nov. 30 - Defeated nationally No.1-ranked Metro State, 72-69, a program first over a top-ranked opponent.

Dec. 5 - Woodworth hit two free throws with 1.9 seconds remaining as WWU began GNAC play with a 67-66 win over Western Oregon

Dec. 14 - School record set for combined points with 228 in 140-88 win over Multnomah. WWU fell one short of school record for most points in a game (141-52 vs. Northwest on Feb. 3, 1989, and just shy of mark for best field-goal percentage (66.7, 58-87), set on Jan. 3, 1989 (69.8 vs. Grace IN)

Dec. 17 - Turner grabbed 20 rebounds, most by a Viking player since 2003, and five shy of the school record in 99-74 victory over Thompson Rivers BC.

Jan. 2 - Woodworth reaches 1,000-point mark in career scoring with 24 points and Bragg had game highs of 25 points and 12 rebounds in 104-89 win at Alaska Anchorage.

Jan. 11 - Bragg and Turner combined for 52 points, 32 rebounds and five blocked shots in 82-69 win over Simon Fraser.

Jan. 30 - WWU defeats Alaska Fairbanks, 53-51, the fewest points by the Vikings in a win since a 53-47 victory over Lewis-Clark State on Feb. 22, 1983, and a 47-43 triumph over Montana Tech on Jan. 2, 1981.

Feb. 1 - Bragg posted just the second triple-double (13 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists) in school history and WWU made 16-of-27 3-pointers (59.3 percent) in a 99-76 win over Alaska Anchorage.

Feb. 8 - Woodworth scored a career-high 33 points in a 84-83 win at Simon Fraser.

ROOT SPORTS: Three WWU home games are being televised live on ROOT Sports (Comcast Channel 30) this season. They include Seattle Pacific on Jan. 15, Alaska Anchorage on Feb. 1 and versus Central Washington on Feb. 22. ROOT Sports is the home of the Seattle Mariners, Seattle Seahawks and Portland Timbers, among numerous other professional and collegiate sports teams in the Pacific Northwest. Its scope covers Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska, and the ROOT SPORTS regional networks combine to reach nine million homes across 18 states.

THREE-DOT NOTES: WWU's 53 points scored against Alaska Fairbanks (53-51) on Jan. 20 were the fewest by the Vikings in a win since a 53-47 victory over Lewis-Clark State on Feb. 22, 1983; and a 47-43 triumph over Montana Tech on Jan. 2, 1981... WWU is 12-1 at home this season, and has won 39 of its last 40 games at Carver Gym. The Vikings had a school-record 36-game home win streak snapped by Seattle Pacific, 76-60, on Jan. 15. Their biggest win at Carver Gym this season was 72-69 over then No.1-ranked Metro State CO on Nov. 30 ... WWU was named the GNAC Team of the Week for Nov. 24-30 with a 72-69 win over top-ranked Metro State, and Jan. 26-Feb. 1 for a home sweep of Alaska Fairbanks and Alaska Anchorage.

UNMATCHED SUCCESS: WWU won the NCAA II national championship in 2012 and reached the national semifinals in 2013, posting back-to-back 31-win seasons. The Vikings have captured the last two regular-season GNAC titles, winning 33 of 36 conference games during that span. Last season, they won their first 24 games overall and finished 17-1 in league play, the best record in GNAC history.

SEEK THIRD STRAIGHT WEST REGIONAL TITLE: WWU is looking to become the first team since 1994 to win three straight West Regional titles, Cal State Bakersfield completing a five-year string that season. The only other team to win three consecutive West Region championships was UC Riverside from 1973 to 1975.

PRE-SEASON ACCOLADES: Bragg and Woodworth were pre-season GNAC all-conference picks ... WWU ranked ninth in The Sporting News Pre-season NCAA II Top 10, No.10 in the NABC Pre-season Top 25 and No.17 in the Division II Bulletin Pre-season Top 25 ... The Vikings were picked third in the GNAC Pre-season Coaches Poll, behind Seattle Pacific and Alaska Anchorage. They were not the pre-season choice in either of the last two seasons, but went on to win the national championship in 2012 and reach the national semifinals in 2013.

COACH DOMINGUEZ: Tony Dominguez (2nd year, 47-8, 85.5 percent) directed the Vikings to a 31-3 record in 2012-13, GNAC regular-season and West Regional titles, and the NCAA II national semifinals. He became the first rookie coach in NCAA II history to win his first 24 games. Dominguez was a finalist for Clarence "Big House" Gaines National Coach of the Year honors and shared the GNAC Coach of the Year award. Previously, he was an associate head coach for two seasons and an assistant 17 years overall, all at WWU. During that stretch, the Vikings posted a 317-165 (.658) record, making six regional appearances and winning five conference championships. WWU took the NCAA II national crown in 2012, winning a school record 31 games, and reached the national semifinals in 2001.

RADIO BROADCASTS: Selected WWU games are being broadcast this season on KBAI Radio (930 AM) and KPUG Radio (1170 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: All Viking home games are being video streamed live and are available free at http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/wwu.portal#. For up-to-date statistics, box scores of every game, records, stories, etc., see the WWU 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 WWU STARTERS & TOP RESERVES:

G Richard Woodworth, 6-3, ***Sr., Bellevue, WA/Newport
G Robert Harris Jr., 5-10, Sr., TR, Kent, WA/Rainier Beach/
  Eastern Arizona CC/Idaho
C Austin Bragg, 6-9, *Sr., Longview, WA/Mark Morris/Clark CC
F Jeffrey Parker, 6-6, R-Fr., Richmond, CA/Salesian
F Colby Mitchell, 6-7, Jr., JC, Chugiak, AK/Chugiak/Mount Hood CC

G Dana Abe, 6-4, R-Fr., Seattle, WA/O'Dea G Dane Thorpe, 6-4, ***Sr., Bellingham, WA/Sehome F Robert Oliver, 6-4, *Jr., Federal Way, WA/Decatur G Mark Hopkins, 6-3, Jr., JC, San Antonio, TX/Randolph/Temple JC/Schreiner INJ F Joey Schreiber, 6-7, R-Fr., Renton, WA/Eastside Catholic INJ F Anye Turner, 6-7, *Jr., Tumwater, WA/Black Hills/South Puget Sound CC G Alfred Davis, 6-0, *Sr., Tacoma, WA/Lincoln/Pierce CC C Jordan Mosby-Barker, 6-9, Jr., JC, Portland, OR/Parkrose/Clackamas CC *letters

RECENT GAME SUMMARIES:

Feb. 8 - WWU 84, Simon Fraser 83 at Burnaby, B.C.

Woodworth scored a career-high 33 points and had a pair of key assists late in the contest, leading WWU to an 84-83 victory over Simon Fraser in a GNAC game at West Gym. Bragg had 16 points for WWU and Parker added 14. SFU fell to 9-11 overall and remained at the bottom of the GNAC at 2-10 with its 10th loss in 13 games. Guard Sango Niang led five Clan players in double figures with 20 points. SFU had a 73-70 lead with under three minutes left, but Bragg was fouled, and a technical foul on the SFU bench gave the Vikings four free throws. Woodworth hit the first two, then Bragg made one of two, tying the score at 73-73. On the next two WWU possessions, Woodworth fed Oliver for a reverse layin off a backdoor cut, then set up Bragg for a dunk off a pick-and-roll screen, putting the Vikings up for good, 77-73, with 1:15 to go. SFU did have two late chances to tie. With WWU up 81-78, Niang hit a driving bank shot and was fouled with 15 seconds left. He missed the free throw for the potential tie. Parker then hit 1-of-2 free throws at the other end. Niang then drove to the basket, but Bragg stepped in to draw a charging foul with five seconds left. Woodworth made two free throws to seal the victory before Niang hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer for the final margin. Woodworth was 8-of-18 from the field, including 4-of-8 on 3-pointers, and a perfect 13-of-13 on free throws, hitting six in the final minute. The game was tightly contested, with 13 ties and 18 lead changes, and no leads of more than seven points. SFU held a 43-41 advantage at halftime. Justin Cole had 18 points for the Clan. Taylor Dunn added 16, 13 in the first half. Ibrahim Appiah had 14 and David Gebru 13. Appiah had a game-high nine rebounds, and Niang had a game-best eight assists. The Vikings had a 34-30 advantage on the boards, with Mitchell grabbing a team-high eight.

Feb. 13 - Montana State Billings 102, WWU 101 OT at Billings, MT

Despite 26 points and eight assists by Woodworth, including a layup with two seconds left that forced overtime, nationally ranked WWU had its six-game winning streak snapped, falling to Montana State Billings, 102-101, in a GNAC contest at Alterowitz Gymnasium. Parker added 23 points, 15 in the first half, and 10 rebounds for the Vikings, ranked No.24 nationally. The loss dropped them to 16-5 overall and 10-3 in GNAC play. MSUB, which improved to 10-12 overall and 6-8 in GNAC play, was led by the game-high 32 points and 10 rebounds of center Austin Hudson. Guard Kalob Hatcher added 19 points and 10 assists. Hudson had six points in overtime, all on free throws. The Yellowjackets built a 98-91 lead with 47 seconds left in the extra period, but WWU scored eight points on its next three possessions, pulling to within two, 101-99, with 10 seconds to go. Hudson made one of two free throws with nine seconds left, then Woodworth made a pair with 5.2 seconds, closing the gap to a point, 102-101. MSUB's Devon Wallace then missed two free throws, and the Vikings had a chance to win, but Woodworth lost control of the ball as he attempted to pull up for a shot from 30 feet out. The Vikings trailed by six, 83-77, with under 90 seconds remaining in regulation, but rallied to tie the game, 84-84, as Woodworth fed Thorpe for a layup with 16 seconds to go. Jonathan Mesghna then drove the length of the floor for a layup to put the Yellowjackets ahead by two, but after a timeout, Woodworth matched him, going coast-to-coast to score and force overtime at 88-88. The contest featured 10 ties and 17 lead changes, with no lead of more than seven points. Harris, Jr., had 17 points, hitting 5-of-7 treys, for the Vikings, who shot 50.0 percent (37-of-74) from the field. Mitchell added 14 points, and Bragg had 11. WWU was without Turner, a starting forward, who missed the game because of dislocated big toe suffered at Simon Fraser on Feb. 8. Mesghna finished with 18 points for MSUB, going 6-of-9 from the field, including a 3-pointer to open overtime that put the Yellowjackets ahead for good. Wallace added 15 points.

07/03/2014

Heart of the Game