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.
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