WWU
Blanche

BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- Rory Blanche and Zach Henifin combined for 25 of their 34 points in the second half to lead Western Washington to a 74-65 victory against Chico State on Saturday night in the second round of the NCAA tournament at Sam Carver Gymnasium.

Blanche scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half and Henifin had 10 of his 17 after the intermission. WWU also got 13 points from John Allen and 11 from Richard Woodworth.

Sean Park led Chico State with 13 points and a game-high five assists, while Amir Carraway had 11 points and Jason Conrad scored 10.

The Vikings trailed 35-30 early in the second half, but took the lead for good on a tip-in by Henifin, the first of six consecutive Viking points by the WWU forward.

Henifin added a jumper to put his team ahead 45-42, then added two free throws a few moments later for a 47-44 lead.

WWU still led by just three with nine minutes left (54-51), but the Vikings then scored seven consecutive points getting a jumper from Woodworth, a 3-pointer from Rico Wilkins and a two-point jumper from Paul Jones to go ahead 61-51 with 6:37 left.

Chico State climbed back to within 63-58 on a 3-pointer by Damario Sims with 3:43 remaining, but Allen hit a 3-pointer to re-establish an eight-point lead just inside the two-minute mark.

The Wildcats cut that deficit to six on two free throws by Park with 1:42 remaining, but two free throws by Woodworth and a spectacular tip-in by Henifin with 58 seconds left gave WWU a double-digit lead effectively sealing the victory.

WWU shot 50 percent from the floor (29-of-58), while holding Chico State to a 35.8 percentage (19-of-53) including just 33.3 percent (9-of-27) in the second half, while also earning a draw on the backboards (36-36) and having seven fewer turnovers.

"They're a pretty methodical team and I think we were not doing a very good job on the defensive glass in the first half, but I think our defense finally started to get to them in the second half,” WWU coach Brad Jackson said. “I thought Zach [Henifin] played well again and I thought Dan Young came in and played really well."