March 13, 2009

SEATTLE - Kelsey Burns pumped in 16 points, and Daesha Henderson added 13 to go along with seven assists, as Seattle Pacific opened the NCAA Division II women's West Regional basketball tournament with a 77-48 quarterfinal rout of Grand Canyon in Royal Brougham Pavilion.

The fifth-ranked Falcons (22-4) won their 10th straight game and moved into the semifinals, where they will meet Humboldt State tonight at 7 in Brougham. The Lumberjacks downed Western Washington in another quarterfinal game on Friday, 74-64.

The other semifinal will be between UC San Diego and second-ranked Alaska Anchorage today at 5 p.m. The semifinal winners meet Monday at 7 p.m. in Brougham for the regional championship and a trip to San Antonio, Texas, for the Elite Eight.

Seattle Pacific, which wrapped up a share of the its third straight Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship last week, was up by just five points at 23-18 with 7:20 left in the first half. But the Falcons closed the half on a 15-6 run to take a 38-24 lead into the locker room. SPU 16 of its first-half points, including six during the decisive run, off of 14 Grand Canyon turnovers.

Grand Canyon (16-12), the champions of the Pacific West Conference, was led by the 22 points of Samantha Murphy, who averaged 19.1 during the regular season. The Antelopes were making their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2004.

GCU got within 11 points at the outset of the second half on a three-point play by Murphy, cutting Seattle Pacific's lead to 38-27. But the falcons put the next eight points on the board, opening a 19-point bulge at 46-27. The Antelopes never got closer than 17 after that.

Junior forward Megan Hoisington (Bremerton, Wash./Central Kitsap HS) chipped in 11 points for SPU, which is making its 13th straight NCAA appearance and now is 21-13 all-time in the tournament.

The Falcons now have kept six of their last seven opponents below 50 points. They came into Friday's tournament opener allowing just 57.5 points per game, ranking No. 21 among the 275 Division II schools nationally.