Allen

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Guard John Allen led a balanced attack with 22 points and center Austin Bragg posted a double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds as Western Washington opened up an early lead en route to a 96-82 triumph against Florida Southern in the national quarterfinals on Thursday.

The defending national champion Vikings improved to 31-2. The 31 victories tied the school record set last year.

With the triumph, WWU advanced to the national semifinals on Saturday.

Florida Southern had an eight-game winning streak snapped as it completed its season with a 27-6 record. Kevin Capers came off the bench to lead the Moccasins with a game-high 27 points.

Guard Richard Woodworth had 17 points for WWU. Cameron Severson came off the bench to contribute 14 points and forward Paul Jones added 10.

“I thought it was an outstanding game for us and Florida Southern,” WWU coach Tony Dominguez said. “They are very talented and extremely well coached; they knew how to hit our weaknesses very well. We’re just very fortunate to come away with this game.”

The Vikings shot 58.1 percent (25 of 43) in the opening half, and held a 59-47 lead at halftime after leading by as many as 17 points. The key burst was a 13-2 run in a span of less than three minutes that opened up a 28-16 advantage midway through the first half.

Capers kept the Moccasins in shouting distance by scoring 19 points and grabbing six rebounds in the opening half, going 6 of 10 from the field and 7 of 11 on free throws.

The Vikings again led by 17 early in the second half, but Florida Southern used a run of seven consecutive points to close the margin to 10 with 14 minutes left.

WWU's lead got down to 10 multiple times before finally getting to nine on a basket by Cameron Vines with 3:17 left.

“I was not real concerned to be honest” Dominguez said. “Obviously it was a little frustrating, but we’ve got a good bench.”

WWU shot 55.1 percent (38 of 69) from the field, but Florida Southern attempted 18 more free throws than the Vikings, going 29 of 40 (72.5 percent).

Florida Southern, which entered the contest averaging eight makes and 24.3 attempts per game from 3-point range, finished 5-for-18 from beyond the arc.