SPU upends top-seeded Cent. Wash.
Top three seeds fall in first day of Western Regional
ELLENSBURG, Wash. – Jeff Downs scored 14 of his 20 points in the first half Friday as eighth-seeded Seattle Pacific surged ahead early en route to a 76-63 upset of fifth-ranked Central Washington in the first round of the NCAA Division II Men's Basketball Tournament at Nicholson Pavilion.
The Falcons (20-9) advance to the regional semifinal to play No. 4 seed Dixie State (21-6) on Saturday. The Red Storm won this season's first meeting, defeating SPU 68-61 on Nov. 20 in Seattle.
Central (26-4) was the top seed for the Western Regional playoffs, which saw the top three seeds all go down. Saturday's other semifinal features No. 6 seed Alaska Anchorage against No. 7 BYU-Hawaii.
Downs was limited to fewer than 12 points in each of the two previous meetings, both regular-season wins by the Great Northwest Athletic Conference champion Wildcats. He fueled a 13-point run midway through the first half that put SPU in control. The surge stretched the Falcons small 14-13 lead to 27-13. Ryan Sweet capped the run on a dunk with 6:16 on the clock.
During the SPU surge, the Wildcats went scoreless for over six minutes, missing six consecutive shots and committing three turnovers in that span. Jody Johnson ended the drought on a 12-foot jump shot with 5:43 left in the first half, giving CWU its first points since the 11:58 mark.
SPU scored the final four points of the half, including a breakaway layup at the buzzer that was goal-tended by Philipp Lieser, to claim a 40-25 halftime advantage.
Jeff's brother, freshman David Downs, led all scorers with a career-high 22 points. He hit 5 of 7 shots from 3-point range. Ryan Sweet scored 13 points for SPU and Modou Niang added 11.
Jamar Berry scored 16 points to pace CWU, which also got 12 from Chris Scott and 10 from Johnson.
David Downs opened the second half with a 3-point that put SPU in front 43-25. The Wildcats responded by scoring the next nine points to draw within 43-34 with 17:02 left to play.
Sweet halted the rally with a rebound and put back of his own miss at 15:52 and Central never drew closer than five the rest of the game.