LOUISVILLE, Kentucky — Despite a furious second-half comeback, Western Washington University’s run at a second consecutive national championship came to an end Saturday, as the Vikings fell to Drury University 107-97 in an Elite Eight semifinal game of the NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball National Tournament.
The defending national champion Vikings, ranked No. 4 nationally in the final National Basketball Coaches Association NCAA Top 25 Poll and the West Region champion, finished their season 31-3.
Guard Rico Wilkins came off the bench to lead WWU with 27 points, hitting 8-of-13 3-pointers, with 21 of the points coming in the second half.
Guard Alex Hall scored 23 of his game-high 35 points in the first half for Drury (30-4), ranked No.7 nationally and the Midwest Region champion. It was the 22nd straight triumph for the Panthers, who will meet No.3-ranked Metro State (31-3) in the national title contest next Sunday in Atlanta.
The Vikings fell behind early, and were down by 24 points with 13:45 remaining in the game. They still trailed by 17 with a little over nine minutes to go, but then made a big charge, going on a 17-6 run to narrow the margin to six with 4:48 to play.
The Panthers then pushed their lead back to 18, as back-to-back breakaway dunks by Cameron Adams triggered a 14-2 run, but WWU had one last push, getting the gap down to eight twice in the final minute.
Mountlake Terrace alum John Allen, a third-team All-American, had five points and three assists for Western.
Allen concluded his career with 1,480 points, which ranks seventh in school history.