Western, SPU ready to rumble

WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM Ryan Diggs
WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM
Ryan Diggs
WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM

Feb. 16, 2006

SEATTLE, Wash. -

By CASEY MCNERTHNEY, SPECIAL TO THE SEATTLE P-I

Western Washington seniors Grant Dykstra and Ryan Diggs seem to have everything this season.

They're the first Western teammates to average 20 points per game. Both are in the school's top five in career scoring and are challenging Mike Franza's school-record 25.6 scoring average set in 1972-73.

Dykstra has been held under 10 points just once in 21 contests. Diggs' 132 free throws are nearing the school record of 162 set more than 40 years ago.

But the Vikings don't have the No. 1 ranking.

Tonight at Seattle Pacific, the eighth-ranked Falcons (19-3, 11-2)hope to keep Western (19-2, 11-1), ranked No. 2 in the Division II coaches' poll, from the top.

And in the showdown that could determine the Great Northwest Athletic Conference crown and potential homecourt advantage in the NCAA Division II West Regional, Seattle Pacific has two standouts of its own.

Junior Dustin Bremerman is shooting 58 percent from the field and averaging 24.5 points and had a 34-point performance in an 88-82 comeback win against Alaska Fairbanks.

Senior guard Tony Binetti scored 22 of his 24 points in the second half, including 13 during a 26-9 run that kept the Falcons' hopes alive. He has the team's second-highest scoring average (18.5) and has committed only two turnovers in the past three games.

"They're extremely good, and they're extremely good at home," Western coach Brad Jackson said, noting the Falcons' 11-game home win streak.

Jackson expects the game to be close, and knows his team can execute in close games.

The Vikings have won their past four games by three points or less, with a road victory against rival Central Washington in overtime.

"We're known for being a run-and-gun team, but I think in these past couple games we've shown that we can grind it out," said Diggs, who scored 13 against Central.

Diggs ranked fourth nationally in scoring before spraining his left ankle Jan. 26 in a 71-68 win against Western Oregon.

"The swelling is still there, but my explosiveness is getting better and better each game," he said Tuesday.

The No. 1 team in the West Region poll at the end of the regular season will host the first three rounds of the NCAA tourney March 10, 11, and 13.

Each time the Falcons have hosted a regional (1965 and 2000) they have parlayed that edge into region titles and berths in the Division II Elite Eight