SEATTLE, Wash. – Forward Paul Jones scored a game-high 16 points, including six in the final three minutes, as No. 5 Western Washington claimed a 66-56 win against No. 7 Seattle Pacific in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference contest on Thursday at Royal Brougham Pavilion.
The defending national champion Vikings improved to 11-0 overall and 2-0 in the GNAC. It is the 17th consecutive victory in the past two seasons for WWU — its second longest winning streak in school history.
SPU had a five-game winning streak snapped and fell to 9-2 overall and 2-1 in conference play. Patrick Simon led the Falcons with 12 points, and Jobi Wall had 11.
The Vikings led by at least seven through the first 13 minutes of the second half until a Wall 3-pointer pulled SPU within six with 6:53 to play. The Falcons eventually got within five on a Wall free throw with 43 seconds remaining.
That was as close as SPU would get, as Jones hit a shot off a spinning move in the lane, followed by a fallaway jumper and then made a pair of free throws, pushing the WWU margin to 11 at 66-55 with 1:27 left.
Guard Richard Woodworth and center Chris Mitchell each recorded 10 points for the Vikings, who also got a big contribution off the bench from Cameron Severson with nine points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
Reserve post player Anye Turner had a game-high four blocked shots for WWU.
“The defense from our bench turned the game around,” WWU coach Tony Dominguez said. “It had been going back and forth, and then they came in and we got some big stops.”
SPU held a 22-21 lead after a Cory Hutsen putback with 6:43 remaining in the first half. WWU held the Falcons scoreless the rest of the period, and Jones scored six points in a 10-0 run that gave WWU a 31-22 lead at halftime.
SPU shot just 30.0 percent (18-of-60) from the field, including 21.1 percent (4-of-19) on 3-pointers.
The victory marked the fourth in a row for the Vikings against SPU.