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Photo courtesy of WWU Athletics

Vikings Comeback Falls Short in 69-68 Loss to Saint Martin's

ANCHORAGE – The Western Washington University men’s basketball team battled back from a 15-point deficit to take the lead in the final seconds of the game, but couldn’t complete the comeback when Saint Martin’s hit the go-ahead jump shot with 2.6 seconds left in the game to lead No. 3-seed Saint Martin’s to a 69-68 victory over the No. 2-seed Vikings Friday afternoon in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference semifinals at the Alaska Airlines Center.

After WWU junior guard Trey Drechsel (Woodinville, WA/Cedar Park Christian) hit one of two free throw attempts with 4.4 seconds left to put the Vikings up by one 68-67. The free throws were awarded to Drechsel after he drove the lane, but was originally called with a charging foul. After a lengthy review of the play, the officials reversed the call to a block to send Drechsel to the free throw line.

After Drechsel converted the second free throw, the Saints inbounded the ball to Chavez who went streaking down the court and hit the game-winning floater with 2.6 seconds left. Drechsel had a chance for the win with a long three-pointer at horn which fell short.

Western (21-8) will not wait for the NCAA Division II selection show on Monday, but are a longshot to make the NCAA Championships after entering the week ranked No. 10 in the West Region. SMU (24-6) advances to its first GNAC Championships where they will meet No. 1-seed Western Oregon at 5:15 pm AKT/6:15 pm PT Saturday.

Senior forward Deandre Dickson (Easton, CA/Bakersfield College) scored a game-high 21 points while recording his sixth double-double of the season with 10 rebounds. Dickson was 7-for-16 from the field and 7-for-12 from the free throw line. He scored 11 of his 21 points in the second half. 

Sophomore guard/forward Trevor Jasinsky (Camas, WA) finished with 14 points, going 3-for-4 from beyond the arc. Jasinsky hit a pair of 3-pointers in the final 3 minutes of the game, including a game-tying longball with 40 seconds remaining in the game.

Sophomore forward Daulton Hommes (Lynden, WA/Lynden Christian) also recorded a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. The unanimous First Team All-GNAC selection was held scoreless in the first half, but was 5-for-7 from the field in the second half to fuel the Vikings comeback.

Chavez led the Saints with 20 points, connecting on 8-of-16 from the field and 3-for-66 from 3-point range as the Saints shot 47.2 percent from the field. BJ Standley came off the bench for 11 points while EJ Boyce added 10 points. Matt Dahlen finished with 10 rebounds.

Both teams started the game at a torrid shooting pace. At one point, the Vikings shot 70 percent from the floor, but the Saints neutralized that by making four more shots than the Vikings in the opening 20 minutes. Jared Mathews opened up the 15-9 Saint Martin’s lead with his lay-in at the 14:28 mark, but a 9-2 run for Western Washington, which culminated on Dickson’s jumper with 12:23 to go, gave the Vikings the lead at 18-17.

At the point, however, the Vikings were outscored 18-3 by the Saints over the next 6:46. Twelve of those points came on three-pointers, with the run ending of Boyce’s trey for a 35-21 lead with 5:13 left in the period. But from there it was SMU that went cold as the team went scoreless over the final 4:44. The Vikings took advantage with an 7-0 run as Dickson put in a pair of lay-ins and Jasinsky contributed a lay-up and a free throw to bring WWU within 39-31 at the half.

Shooting played out even over the first six minutes of the second half, but then the Vikings got hot from the field. Junior guard/forward Siaan Rojas (Concord, CA/Santa Rosa JC) converted a layup to spark a 17-8 WWU run over the next six minutes, which culminated on Hommes’ jumper with 7:22 left that brought the Vikings within 58-57 with 7:22 left.

The Saints extended the lead back to 67-59 on a Jordan Kitchen lay-in with 2:51 left, but then went without a score until Chavez’s game-winner. The Vikings went on a 9-0 run during the stretch, with Jasinsky tying the game at 67-67 with his three-pointer with 40 seconds to go. Saint Martin’s appeared to catch a break with an offensive foul call with 4.4 seconds left, but the call was reversed to a block upon officials’ review, allowing Drechsel the free throw that put WWU up by one.

Game Notes: WWU is now 7-5 all-time in the GNAC Championships…this marked the 10th consecutive season to advance to the postseason for the program…Daulton Hommes passed 900 points for his career, and is now at 910 points in the first 60 games of his WWU career (15.2 points per game)…Hommes has scored in double-digits in 28 of 29 games this season…Trey Drechsel finished with a game-high 5 assists…Dickson’s 6 double-doubles this season are 5th-most in the GNAC…WWU held a decisive 39-27 edge in rebounds…WWU had 14 second-chance points compared to SMU’s 2…WWU’s starters contributed 58 of the 68 points in the game.

Posted by Doug Lange Bellingham 

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