8-0 Vikings face toughest challenge of young season
Dec. 14, 2004
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Facing its toughest challenge of the young season, the unbeaten and top 10 ranked Western Washington University men's basketball team meets two undefeated teams this weekend at the High Desert Classic in Las Vegas, Nev.
Five nationally ranked squads are among the 16 NCAA Division II schools playing at the McDermott Center on the UNLV campus.
The 8-0 Vikings, No.5 in the latest National Association of Basketball Coaches/NCAA II Coaches Poll, play University of South Dakota (8-0, host Morningside IA on Dec. 16) on Saturday (9 p.m.), and No.21 Cal State San Bernardino (4-0, host Vanguard CA on Dec. 14, vs. West Texas A&M on Dec. 18) on Sunday (9 p.m.).
Western crushed NCAA III UC Santa Cruz, 110-60, last Saturday at Sam Carver Gymnasium. The Vikings' start is their best since 1987-88 when they won their first nine games.
Western, 6-0 at home this season, is hitting a school-record pace 44.8 percent (69-of-154) from 3-point range, averaging 8.6 treys per game.
The Vikings, who have shot 48.0 percent (60-of-125) from beyond the arc in their last six games, have made eight or more 3-pointers in five games, connecting on a season-high 14-of-23 (60.9 percent) against UC Santa Cruz.
Junior guard Grant Dykstra (Everson/Lynden Christian), who has scored double figures in every game this season, leads the 3-point barrage, hitting 21-of-34 for 61.8 percent. He has shot 63.3 percent (19-of-30) from beyond the arc over the last six contests.
Dykstra is averaging a team-high 17.9 points a game, shooting 55.3 percent (52-of-94) from the floor and 81.8 percent (18-of-22) at the free throw line. Dykstra also is averaging 5.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.4 steals.
"Sixth man" senior forward Craig Roosendaal (Shoreline/King's), who is averaging 11.5 points, has made 23-of-43 treys for 53.5 percent. He had 19 points against UC Santa Cruz, making 5-of-7 3-pointers.
Junior guard Ryan Diggs (Victorville, CA/Silverado) is scoring at a 15.5 clip, making 34-of-35 (97.1 percent) free throws. Diggs has converted 38 of his last 39 free throws dating back to the 2003-04 season. He made his final four attempts of that campaign, then extended the streak to 23 by making his first 19 this year. After missing late in the Vikings' Nov. 27 home game versus Cal Poly Pomona, Diggs has made 15 straight.
Junior center Tyler MacMullen (Kamiak), a first-team all-region transfer from Edmonds CC, is averaging 10.3 points on 53.3 percent (32-of-60) floor accuracy and 6.0 rebounds.
Rounding out the first five for coach Brad Jackson (20th year, 361-210) are two juniors, forward Tyler Amaya (Mount Vernon), a transfer from Dixie College via Gonzaga University; and guard Kyle Jackson (Bellingham/Sehome), Brad's son.
Amaya is averaging a team-best 6.9 rebounds, 9.3 points and 3.0 assists. Jackson is scoring at an 8.9 clip, shooting 60.0 percent (9-of-15) from 3-point range and 94.1 percent (16-of-17) at the line, and is dishing out a team-high 4.6 assists per game.
Western also has gotten bench help from junior forward Darrell Visser (Lynden), who is averaging 5.3 points on 50.0 percent floor accuracy and has a team-best 10 blocked shots.
The Vikings are averaging 91.5 points per game, winning by an average of 16.5 points. They are shooting 50.0 percent (221-of-442) from the field and have 32 less turnovers than the opposition.
Western has scored over 80 points in every game this season, shooting better than 50 percent from the field in five contests and has had 15 or fewer turnovers in six games.
South Dakota returns three starters from last year's 22-10 team that reached the second round of the North Central Regional. They are two honorable mention North Central Conference all-stars - 6-8 junior forward Turner Trofholz (17.8 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 66.7 FG Pct., 58-of-87) and 5-11 senior guard Josh Mueller (16.8 ppg, 5.8 apg, 90.0 Pct., 36-of-40), who was a first-team all-league pick as both a freshman and sophomore and is the school's career assist leader - and 6-7 senior center Steve Anderson (10.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.4 bpg).
Rounding out the starting lineup for coach Dave Boots (17th year, 339-133, .713; overall 24 yrs., 452-196) are two transfers, 6-4 senior forward Aaron Green (10.5 ppg, 6.1 rpg) from NCAA I North Dakota State where he averaged 7.9 points and 4.2 rebounds, and 6-1 junior guard David Nour (10.8 ppg, 51.4 3-pt. pct., 18-of-35) from Dakota Wesleyan where he averaged 18.5 points and received NAIA All-America honorable mention.
Averaging 9.9 points on 58.6 percent 3-point accuracy (17-of-29) is 6-5 freshman guard Dustin Little.
South Dakota is shooting 52.5 percent from the floor, 44.5 percent from 3-point range, and 71.4 percent at the free throw line.
Western lost to South Dakota, 95-86, in the only other meeting between the two schools at the 2002 High Desert Classic.
Cal State San Bernardino has one starter back from last year's 26-3 squad that won the California Collegiate Athletic Association championship and reached the West Regional semifinals. That is second-team all-CCAA and West Region all-tournament pick 5-10 senior guard Trenell Eddings (12.8 ppg, 4.3 apg).
Two standout transfers for third-year coach Jeff Oliver (53-10), who has been CCAA and West Region Coach of the Year in each of the last two seasons, are 6-1 junior guard Kenneth Sims (13.8 ppg, 4.5 apg) from American River JC where he averaged 23.0 points and earned northern California JC Player of the Year honors, and 6-9 senior center Chris Davis (11.0 ppg, .594 FG Pct.) from NCAA I Cal State Northridge where he averaged 8.5 points and 3.8 rebounds and was named to the Big West Conference all-freshman team.
Back after missing two years because of a knee injury is 6-4 junior forward James Perkins (13.0 ppg, 6.8 rpg).
Western has split its previous two series meetings with the Coyotes, winning 58-55 in the championship game of the 2001 West Regional and losing 87-72 at the 2003 High Desert Classic.
This is the sixth straight year that the Vikings have competed in the High Desert Classic. They have split 10 games, losing their last four.
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