ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Senior forward Tia Briggs and senior guard Taylor Peacocke each scored 18 points to lead a balanced offense as the No. 3-seeded Western Washington University women's basketball team used a strong start to build an early lead en route to a 74-48 victory over No. 6-seeded Cal State East Bay in the NCAA West Regional quarterfinal round on Friday at the Alaska Airlines Center.
WWU (26-5) will face No. 2-seeded Cal Baptist at 6 pm PT/5 pm AKT on Saturday evening in the semifinal round after the Lancers advanced with an 85-79 win over No. 7-seeded Point Loma on Friday. CSUEB concluded its season 22-9 and had its nine-game win streak ended.
WWU opened the game with a 9-0 spurt as part of a larger 18-5 run to begin the game en route to a 20-7 advantage after the first period. The Pioneers were unable to reduce the deficit to fewer than 9 points the rest of the game as the Vikings shot 50.0% (29-for-58) from the field while holding CSUEB to 29.4% (15-for-51) from the floor.
Briggs opened the scoring with a layup before senior guard Jessica Valley (Lafayette, IN/Nova Southeastern) added a 3-point play in transition off a turnover. Peacocke capped the 9-0 spurt with consecutive jumpers. WWU connected on 5 of its first 8 shots from the field for the strong start while the defense held CSUEB without a field goal until the 6:01 mark in the first quarter, as the Pioneers missed 6 of their first 7 attempts from the floor.
CSUEB cut the deficit to 24-15 with 4:46 to play in the second quarter and were again within single digits at 26-17 with 2:54 remaining before the Vikings concluded the period with an 8-1 run to lead 34-18 at halftime.
The Pioneers trailed by double digits throughout the third and fourth quarters, unable to cut the deficit to fewer than 16 points at any point after halftime. WWU never let its lead slip below 21 points during the fourth quarter, leading by as many as 28 points in the final period on its way to the victory.
"I think we did a good job of moving the ball and sharing the ball," head coach Carmen Dolfo said. "We wanted to attack the basket and I think our players did a great job with that. But we try to focus everything around our defense and I felt like our defense really came out intense."
Briggs (Tacoma, WA/Wilson) went 7-for-12 from the field and grabbed 6 rebounds while Peacocke (Kenmore, WA/Inglemoor) was 9-for-20 from the field.
Senior forward Kiana Gandy (Des Moines, WA/Mount Rainier) added 13 points to give WWU three players in double figures scoring. Ten of the 11 players for the Vikings scored to provide the balanced offensive attack. Freshman guard Lexie Bland (Ellensburg, WA) led the Vikings with 7 points in the first quarter to aid the strong start.
Valley tied her career high with 9 assists, adding 3 steals as well. For the game, 22 of the 29 field goals for WWU were assisted. Gandy and senior forward Rachel Albert (Bellingham, WA/Sehome) added 3 assists apiece.
Albert also had 3 steals and tied for a game-high with 10 rebounds, including 3 offensive rebounds, to help WWU hold a 39-26 rebounding advantage in the contest.
Shomari Harris scored a game-high 23 points as the only Pioneer in double figures scoring.
The NCAA West Regional is composed of eight teams, with the regional champion advancing to the Elite Eight in Columbus, Ohio (March 21-24). The Vikings will play in the first of two semifinal games at the NCAA West Regional on Saturday night. Semifinal games are set for 6 pm PT/5 pm AKT and 8:30 pm PT/7:30 AKT Saturday, with the winners advancing to Monday's championship at 8 pm PT/7 pm AKT.
GAME NOTES: Friday's game marked the start of the 16th NCAA II Tournament appearance in program history...the Vikings are 15-15 all-time in NCAA Tournament play...WWU improved to 6-0 all-time against CSUEB...Vikings have won 20 of ltheir ast 22 games...CSUEB had its nine-game win streak come to a close (had won 17 of last 19 entering the tournament)....Taylor Peacocke now has 1,915 points career points, 2nd all-time at WWU (1st is Jo Metzger with 1,990 points)...Peacocke is also 2nd in GNAC history behind Erin Chambers (1,946 points)...Vikings shot better than 40% from the field for the 28th game during the season...the Vikings held their opponent under 40% from the field for the 21st time in 31 games during the season...Jessica Valley tied a career high with 9 assists.
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