LACEY - Jobi Wall hit a 28-foot 3-pointer with 0.3 seconds left, lifting Seattle Pacific University to a 72-70 triumph over top seed Western Washington University in the championship game of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Championship Tournament on Saturday, March 10, between two of the nation's top three ranked teams at Marcus Pavilion on the campus of host Saint Martin's University, in a game televised by ROOT Sports.
The Vikings, ranked No.2 in this week's top 25 poll and No. 1 in the West Region rating, fell to 27-2 with just their second loss in the last 35 games. Forward Paul Jones had 20 points and seven rebounds, hitting 10-of-13 field-goal attempts for the defending national champions, and GNAC Player of the Year John Allen added 19 points.
Seattle Pacific, ranked No. 3 nationally and No. 2 in the West Region, improved to 25-3 and avenged a pair of regular-season losses to the Vikings. Guard David Downs had 20 points, 13 in the last 9:14, for the tourney No. 2-seed Falcons, who have won nine straight games.
The Vikings led by four, 70-66, entering the final minute, but twice missed on the front end of 1-and-1s, and Downs hit 3-of-4 attempts, making a pair with 16 seconds left to close the gap to one, 70-69. Richard Woodworth, who finished with 13 points, then missed two free throws, and SPU's Riley Stockton dived on the floor to grab the rebound in the corner, leading to a Falcon timeout.
SPU then tried to feed Wall on the left wing. WWU forward Anye Turner deflected the pass, but Wall retrieved it near half-court, took a dribble in and launched a game-winner that swished in with 0.3 seconds left. An attempted long inbound pass then hit the scoreboard hanging at midcourt.
Prior to Wall's bomb, the Vikings had never trailed in the second half, although the score had been tied five times.
The Vikings had a 13-11 lead a little over six minutes into the game before SPU ran off 11 straight points, six of them by Cory Hutsen, to take a 22-13 lead with 9:24 left in the first half. But WWU rallied, taking a 32-31 lead on a 3-pointer by Woodworth, and held a 35-33 lead at halftime.
Hutsen had 16 points and Wall added 10 for the Falcons, who shot 53.2 percent (25 of 47) from the field. Western shot 53.7 percent (29 of 54).
By winning the GNAC tourney, SPU earns an automatic berth in the NCAA II West Regional on March 15-16 and 18 at a site to be determined, although both WWU and SPU already had regional berths clinched.
Despite the defeat, the Vikings are still the favorites to be the No. 1 seed and host the West Regional. The official announcement of the NCAA II National Tournament field, including regional sites, will be made at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 10, on NCAA.com.
With his 19 points, Allen surpassed the 1,400-point mark in career scoring, finishing the game at 1,401.
WWU had a 24-0 start this season and a 30-game winning streak over the last two years. Both the start and streak broke school records that had stood for 41 years.
SEATTLE PACIFIC 72, WESTERN WASHINGTON 70
SEATTLE PACIFIC (25-3)
Downs, David 4-8 11-14 20; Hutsen, Cory 7-12 2-2 16; Wall, Jobi 4-7 0-0 10; Stockton, Riley 3-4 1-2 8; Poling, Andy 3-5 1-3 7; Simon, Patrick 3-7 0-0 7; Todd, Ryan 1-2 0-0 2; Morse, Scott 0-0 1-3 1; Weber-Brader, Alex 0-2 1-2 1. Totals 25-47 17-26 72.
WESTERN WASHINGTON (27-2)
Jones, Paul 10-13 0-2 20; Allen, John 7-16 3-3 19; Woodworth, Richard 4-8 3-5 13; Bragg, Austin 4-4 1-2 9; Turner, Anye 2-4 1-2 5; Mitchell, Chris 2-6 0-0 4; Severson, Cameron 0-1 0-0 0; Wilkins, Rico 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 29-54 8-14 70.
Half: WWU 35, SPU 33
3-point goals--Seattle Pacific 5-11 (Wall,Jobi 2-3; Stockton,Riley 1-2; Simon,Patrick 1-3; Downs,David 1-3), Western Washington 4-13 (Allen,John 2-5; Woodworth,Richard 2-4; Mitchell,Chris 0-2; Wilkins,Rico 0-1; Jones,Paul 0-1). Fouled out--Seattle Pacific-None, Western Washington-Bragg,Austin. Rebounds--Seattle Pacific 25 (Stockton,Riley 8), Western Washington 30 (Jones,Paul 7). Assists--Seattle Pacific 16 (Downs,David 7), Western Washington 15 (Allen,John 5). Total fouls--Seattle Pacific 14, Western Washington 18. Technical fouls--Seattle Pacific-None, Western Washington-None. A-1146