Forward Paul Jones scored a team-high 19 points as nationally ranked Western Washington University tied a 41-year-old school record with 20 consecutive home court victories, defeating Montana State University Billings, 86-69, in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference men's basketball contest Thursday, Jan. 31, at Sam Carver Gymnasium.
The defending NCAA Division II national champion Vikings, who are ranked #2 in this week's Top 25, improved to 19-0 overall, two shy of the WWU record for an unbeaten start set in 1971-72, and remained atop the GNAC at 10-0. The Vikings have won 25 straight games dating back to last season, a school and GNAC record.
Top-ranked Metro State (17-0), Colo., is the only other unbeaten team in Division II.
MSUB fell to 11-10 overall and 4-6 in the GNAC. Jarrell Crayton led the Yellowjackets with a game-high 24 points, and Sam Johnson added 19 points and 10 rebounds.
The first half featured 11 lead changes and nine ties, with no lead greater than five points. WWU held a 42-39 advantage at halftime. The Vikings shot 55.2 percent (16 of 29) from the field in the first half, while MSUB shot 59.3 percent (16 of 27).
WWU continued its torrid pace to open the second half while the Yellowjackets cooled off. After Crayton scored the first basket of the period, the Vikings ran off 14 straight points in less than four minutes, hitting 6-of-8 shots from the field in the burst to take a 56-41 lead with 16:17 to play.
The lead never got under 11 after that, reaching 21 at 69-48 midway through the second half. WWU shot 61.3 percent (19 of 31) from the field in the second half and 58.3 percent (35 of 60) for the game, while MSUB cooled off to just 30.3 percent (10 of 33), including 0-of-13 on 3-pointers, and ended up at 43.3 percent (26 of 60) for the game.
The home floor win streak ties the mark of 20 originally set from 1970 to 1972. WWU is 10-0 at Carver Gym this season.
WWU now holds a 16-3 series advantage. The Yellowjackets were the last team to defeat WWU, 82-78, on March 2, 2012 in the GNAC tournament semifinals at Lacey.
WESTERN WASHINGTON 86, MSU BILLINGS 69
MSU BILLINGS (11-10, 4-6 GNAC)
Crayton,Jarrell 24; Johnson,Sam 19; McDade,Omar 10; Wallace,Devon 9; Trabing,Robby 5; Cusworth,Cameron 2; Arnold,David 0; Hatcher,Kalob 0. Totals 26-60 13-15 69.
WESTERN WASHINGTON (19-0, 10-0 GNAC)
Jones,Paul 19; Mitchell,Chris 18; Allen,John 15; Woodworth,Richard 12; Bragg,Austin 7; Wilkins,Rico 7; Severson,Cameron 5; Turner,Anye 3; Thorpe,Dane 0. Totals 35-60 10-14 86.
Half: WWU 42, MSUB 39
3-point goals--MSU Billings 4-21 (Johnson,Sam 2), Western Washington 6-8 (Mitchell,Chris 2; Woodworth,Richard 2). Fouled out--MSU Billings-None, Western Washington-None. Rebounds--MSU Billings 29 (Johnson,Sam 10), Western Washington 34 (Jones,Paul 7; Mitchell,Chris 7). Assists--MSU Billings 10 (McDade,Omar 3), Western Washington 19 (Allen,John 5; Wilkins,Rico 5). Total fouls--MSU Billings 13, Western Washington 13. Technical fouls-MSU Billings-None, Western Washington-None. A-892