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Western Washington University hosts D-II game

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By Scott M. Johnson
Herald Writer
Published:
John Allen isn't necessarily looking at this weekend's NCAA Division II West Regional as a chance at redemption.
It's more like a reward.
Fresh off their upset loss in the opening game of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference tournament, Allen and his teammates on the 15th-ranked Western Washington University men's basketball team are hoping this week has a much different ending.
"It's definitely a second chance, but I don't know if we're looking at it like that," said Allen, a Mountlake Terrace High School graduate and WWU's second-leading scorer this season. "I look at it as, we played well all year, and now we get to host. We just have to handle our business."
The Vikings (25-5) won the GNAC regular season title and played the conference tournament in Lacey last week, only to get shocked by Montana State Billings in their first game. That didn't end up costing WWU a chance to host this week's regional, given that the Vikings are the West Region's top-ranked team.
"It's definitely a confidence-booster" playing at home, Allen said this week. "All around, it's easier. It's nice having it here because there are distractions like sleeping in a different bed and everything else that comes with a road trip, and we don't have those."
The Vikings will host Grand Canyon (19-7) tonight and need to win three games to advance to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Division II tournament, which will be played at Northern Kentucky University on March 21-22.
Unlike last week's conference tournament, these games could mean the end of WWU's season -- and Allen's career. So it was fairly easy for him to put the Montana State Billings loss behind him.
"It wasn't as hard as it would've been if our season ended," he said. "It's definitely a good situation to be in, playing here at home."
Allen, who started his college career at Washington State, encouraged fans from Snohomish County to take some time this weekend to check out the tournament.
"It's exciting basketball," he said. "We get up and down the floor. Games are usually in the 80s, so it can be exciting. And a lot of kids are from the state (of Washington), so it's a chance to go out and see them play."

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