Jones powers Western Washington to GNAC regular-season title in final game
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- Forward Paul Jones had team highs of 19 points and nine rebounds, helping Western Washington end its regular season with a 67-56 victory against Simon Fraser in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference contest on Saturday.
The defending national champion Vikings, ranked No. 3 in the country, improved to 26-1 and wrapped up the outright GNAC regular-season title with a 17-1 mark, the best record in GNAC history.
Guard John Allen had 11 points for WWU, which had already clinched a first-round bye in next week's GNAC tournament at Lacey.
Simon Fraser fell to 6-20 overall and 1-17 in the GNAC with its 10th consecutive loss despite the game-high 21 points by forward Taylor Dunn. Anto Olah added 12 points and Ibrahim Appiah had a game-high 13 rebounds.
The Vikings fell behind by four in the opening minute of the second half, but went on a run of eight consecutive points, with Jones and center Chris Mitchell each getting four, to take a 36-32 lead with 16:08 left.
WWU led the rest of the way, but SFU puled within two on a steal and lay-in by Dunn with 3:36 to go. That proved, however, to be the Clan's last field goal until the final five seconds.
Guard Rico Wilkins helped the Vikings pull away with six points in a span of less than two minutes.
WWU is 14-0 at home this season, and extended its school-record home winning streak to 24, one short of the GNAC record set by Humboldt State (2001-03).
The Vikings shot 56.8 percent (25 of 44) from the field to just 32.8 percent (21 of 64) for the Clansmen. SFU stayed in the contest by grabbing 18 offensive rebounds, eight of them by Appiah.