SPU
Anderson

BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- Senior Jake Anderson tallied 15 of his career-high 24 points in the final 12 minutes on Friday, lifting No. 3-seeded Seattle Pacific to a 70-68 victory against No. 6 Dixie State in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.

The Falcons (22-7) advance to the regional semifinal to play the winner of Alaska Anchorage and Montana State Billings.SPU split the regular-season series with both of them.

Dixie State (20-7), the three-time Pacific West Conference champion, saw its season end one year after eliminating SPU from the 2011 tournament with a similar two-point decision (75-73).

Anderson more than doubled his previous season-high point total of 11. He hit 7 of 9 shots from the field, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range. Anderson eclipsed the career-high of 17 points he established in 2011 against Saint Martin's.

The Red Storm erased an 18-point, first-half deficit and led 40-39 at halftime.

Anderson scored seven consecutive points, capped by a 3-pointer with 8:15 left to play that gave SPU its initial second-half lead at 56-52. That started a streak during which Anderson accounted for 15 of 18 Falcons points during a span of 10:22, the last coming on a 3-pointer with 1:02 remaining that extended their lead to 67-59.

Two turnovers and a missed free throw enabled Dixie to score six consecutive points and draw within 67-65 on a free throw by Maurice Cole with 23.4 seconds to play.

The Falcons turned away the rally with a free throw by David Downs at 23.0 and two by Andy Poling with 5.9 seconds on the clock.

Cole hit a top-of-the key 3-pointer at the buzzer to forge the final score.

Downs and Poling each contributed 18 points for the Falcons. Anderson and Poling shared game-high rebound honors with eight, leading a 38-25 SPU advantage on the boards.

Cole and Griffon Jones each scored 19 points to pace Dixie, which also got 14 from McKay Massey.

In the first half, SPU hit its first four shots and converted all three free throws during the opening 3:03 to race out to a 12-0 lead. That margin grew to 18 points, at 20-2 on a pair of free throws from David Downs with 14:08 left in the first half.

The Falcons hit six of their first seven shots and were 3-of-4 from 3-point range at that point.

The first four shots missed for Dixie, which didn't get its first basket until 13:59 on a layup from Conner Atkin. That was the first of three consecutive field goals that started the process of chipping away at the deficit.

The Red Storm put together runs of seven, six and seven points. The last run provided their first lead, at 38-37, on a Kimball Payne layup with 45 seconds remaining.

Downs hit a runner to give SPU a brief lead before Massey drained a 17-foot jumper with one second on the clock that gave Dixie a 40-39 halftime edge.

SPU is participating in the NCAA tournament for the eighth consecutive season, the longest current streak among Division II teams. The Falcons won their opening round game for the 18th time in 23 all-time playoff appearances.