ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Senior forward Tia Briggs scored a career-high 29 points and senior guard Taylor Peacocke scored 25 points but despite a strong comeback effort the No. 3-seeded Western Washington University women's basketball team had its season ended with an 80-68 loss to No. 2-seeded Cal Baptist in an NCAA West Regional semifinal matchup on Saturday evening at the Alaska Airlines Center.
The Vikings battled back from a nine-point halftime deficit, cutting the lead to a single point late in the third quarter and coming within four points of the Lancers on five occasions during the fourth quarter before CBU closed the game on an 8-0 run to claim the win. WWU, ranked No. 16 nationally, concluded its season 26-6 while nationally No. 3-ranked CBU (33-2) extended its win streak to 30 games and will advance to the regional championship game on Monday evening. The Lancers will oppose No. 5-seeded Simon Fraser for the regional title after the Clan topped No. 1-seeded and GNAC champion Alaska Anchorage, 80-70, in the second semifinal game of the evening.
Trailing 45-36 at halftime, the Vikings cut the CBU lead to 52-48 with a 12-7 run to start the period and came within 56-55 after a 3-point play from Briggs (Tacoma, WA/Wilson) with 1:43 to play in the third quarter. CBU scored twice in the final minute and a half to lead 60-55 after three quarters of play.
The Lancers held off the Vikings throughout the final period, holding a single-digit lead until a late surge to pull away. After CBU pulled ahead 70-62 with 5:20 to go, back-to-back baskets from Briggs, who scored 19 of her points after halftime, brought WWU within 70-66 with 4:20 left.
After the Lancers answered to lead 72-66, a layup from senior forward Kiana Gandy (Des Moines, WA/Mount Rainier) closed the deficit to 72-68 with 3:10 left. But CBU answered again as a layup from Courtney Nelson, who scored a team-high 22 points for CBU, extended the lead to 74-68 and after a turnover for WWU the Lancers scored again to open a 76-68 advantage with 1:58 remaining en route to the win.
WWU led 25-19 after the first quarter, led by 12 points from Peacocke (Kenmore, WA/Inglemoor) in the period. The Vikings built a 10-4 lead early in the game and led for nearly the entire quarter.
The Lancers surged ahead in the second quarter after WWU had opened a 27-19 lead following a jumper from freshman guard Lexie Bland (Ellensburg, WA) early in the period. CBU used a 13-3 run to grab a 32-30 lead with 5:47 left in the quarter and closed the quarter with a 13-4 spurt after the Vikings had tied the game at 32-32.
Peacocke was 10-of-22 from the field, concluding her career as the second-leading scorer in program history with 1,940 points. She added a career-high 7 assists on Saturday as well.
Briggs made a career-high 12 field goals, shooting 12-for-20 from the field. She added 4 assists, 4 rebounds and tied a career high with 3 blocks.
Senior forward Rachel Albert (Bellingham, WA/Sehome) pulled down a team-high 9 rebounds while Bland totaled 5 assists. Senior guard Jessica Valley (Lafayette, IN/Nova Southeastern) added 5 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists.
Nelson scored 15 of her points before halftime to lead the Lancers. Tori Mitchell scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for CBU while Kamille Diaz added 13 points, 8 assists and 3 steals.
WWU was 28-for-68 (41.2%) from the field in the game and made 5-of-20 (25.0%) from 3-point range. The Vikings were 7-for-10 (70.0%) at the free throw line. For the season, the Vikings set GNAC and school records with a team free throw percentage of 80.0% (532-for-665).
The Lancers were 28-for-65 (43.1%) from the field and 4-of-10 (40.0%) from long range as well as 20-for-24 (83.3%) at the free throw line.
WWU loses six seniors from the 2016-17 team in Peacocke, Briggs, Gandy, Albert, Valley and senior guard Aleisha Hathaway (Spokane, WA/Shadle Park). The class combined to go 86-34 over four seasons, posting three 20-win seasons and leading the Vikings to the 16th NCAA Tournament appearance in program history during 2016-17 after making the tournament as freshmen in 2013-14 as well.
GAME NOTES: WWU made its 16th NCAA II Tournament appearance in program history...Saturday's game was the first-ever meeting between WWU and CBU...Vikings posted the 34th 20-win season in program history during the 2016-17 season...Vikings set the GNAC record for season free throw percentage at 80.0% (532-for-665) and bettered the program's previous record of 77.7% (341-for-441) in 2009-10...Tia Briggs set career highs in points (29) and field goals made (12) while tying a career high in blocks (3) on Saturday...Taylor Peacocke posted a career-high 7 assists on Saturday...Peacocke concludes her career with 1,940 points, second in WWU history as well as second in GNAC history...set the WWU single-season scoring average record at 23.3 points per game (second-best points per game single-season average in GNAC history)...set single-season total points record for WWU with 745 points.
Pair of Vikings Earn Great Northwest Athletic Conference Honors
Hannah Stipanovich named Second Team All-GNAC, Dani Iwami honored as GNAC Newcomer of the Year
WWU Falls 76-63 to MSU Billings in Season Finale
Vikings come up just shy of GNAC Championships berth as Yellowjackets pull away after halftime
Comeback Falls Just Short in 79-77 Loss at SFU
Anna Schwecke scores career-high 28 points on 13-for-17 shooting in the tough loss
WWU Travels to Simon Fraser, Hosts MSU Billings
Vikings enter final week of regular season vying for GNAC Championships berth
WWU Edged 78-76 by NNU in Overtime Thriller
Vikings force overtime with late 3-pointer, NNU pulls ahead in final minute of overtime
WWU and Bellingham Selected as Host for 2019 GNAC Basketball Championships
WECU Court at Carver Gym will host the 2019 GNAC Basketball Championships March 7-9, 2019
Vikings Take Down Central Washington 67-59
Hannah Stipanovich scores game-high 19 points, WWU win for fifth time over last six games
Trio of Vikings Named to GNAC All-Academic Team
Hannah Stipanovich, Amanda Lance and Lexie Bland honored by conference
Vikings to Host Central Washington and Northwest Nazarene
WWU faces CWU on Thursday, NNU on Saturday in GNAC matchups
Late Comeback Falls Short in Women's Hoops 80-62 Loss at SPU
Gracie Castaneda scores career-high 21 points as Vikings have four-game winning streak snapped
Vikings Roll To 79-51 Win at Saint Martin's
WWU wins fourth consecutive game, Vikings shoot 50.0% (28-of-56) from the field
Women's Basketball On the Road to Face SMU and SPU
Vikings face the Saints Thursday night (7 pm) and the Falcons Saturday night (7 pm)
Viking Spotlight | Lexie Bland & Dani Iwami
Hear from WWU women's basketball sophomore guards Lexie Bland and Dani Iwami
WWU Tops Concordia 84-68 for Third Straight Win
Vikings outscore Cavaliers 25-7 in third quarter to pull away from two-point halftime lead
WWU Pulls Away from Western Oregon for 66-46 Victory
Vikings outscore Wolves 38-19 in third and fourth quarters in commanding victory