Dec. 2, 2013
PORTLAND, Ore. -
A home winning streak north of 30 games is impressive. To grab win No. 31 over the top-ranked team in the land is a whole different story; one written by Western Washington's men's basketball team on Saturday evening in Bellingham.
Behind a quartet of double-digit scorers including a game-high 20 points from Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Week Austin Bragg, the No.7 Vikings downed No. 1 Metro State 72-69, earning WWU GNAC Team of the Week honors.
"This was another step forward," WWU head coach Tony Dominguez said via The Western Front, WWU's school newspaper. "It shows our team that if they focus and prepare that they can beat anybody."
WWU gained the lead over Metro State for good just before halftime, protecting its advantage through the entire second period to hold on for the victory. Bragg's 13 rebounds combined with his 20 points gave him a double-double, and highlighted the big victory. Bragg also contributed a game-high five blocks for the Vikings.
Also scoring in double-digits for WWU were Anye Turner, Robert Harris, and Richard Woodworth, who each contributed 11 points. A shooting percentage of 47.6 aided WWU, as Metro State managed a mark of just 40.3 percent from the field. The game marked the first ever meeting between the two schools.
"We really showed our depth down on the bench," commented Dominguez to The Western Front. "We had some guys in foul trouble and everyone that came off of the bench stepped up and played really big."
After appearing in the Division II Final Four a season ago, WWU had big shoes to fill entering the 2013-14 season. The Vikings were ranked No. 10 in the National Association of Basketball Coaches preseason poll, but it was the second-ranked Seattle Pacific Falcons who stole the early-season headlines.
Since the first week, WWU has begun a perfect 4-0 while SPU has slipped down the rankings after a 7-3 start. The two teams don't meet until January, when the Falcons visit WWU in Bellingham. With SPU favored to win the GNAC and WWU picked third in the conference's preseason coaches' poll, the rivalry unfolding promises to yield thrilling matchups this season.
GNAC play kicks off this weekend, with the Vikings hosting Western Oregon on Thursday and Saint Martin's on Saturday. WWU looks to kick off its conference slate with a bang, and extend its GNAC-record winning streak to 33 games with a pair of victories. WOU is the last team to beat WWU in Bellingham, with an 83-73 triumph over the Vikings on Jan. 7, 2012.