Herald news services
BELLINGHAM — Forward Paul Jones scored 19 points and Western Washington tied a 41-year-old school record with 20 consecutive home victories in a 86-69 win over Montana State Billings on Thursday.
The defending NCAA Division II national champion Vikings, who are ranked No. 2 in the National Association of Basketball Coaches Top 25 poll, are two wins shy of the Western record for an unbeaten start to the season, set in 1971-72.
Western (19-0 overall, 10-0 league) has won 25 straight games dating back to last season, a school and Great Northwest Athletic Conference record.
Jerrell Crayton led Montana State (11-10, 4-6) with a game-high 24 points and Sam Johnson added 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Yellowjackets.
There were 11 lead changes and nine ties in the first half and neither team led by more than five points. Western shot 55.2 percent (16-of-29) from the field in the first half and held a 42-39 advantage at halftime.
After Crayton scored the first basket of the second half, the Vikings ran off 14 straight points in less than four minutes, hitting 6-of-8 shots from the field in a burst to take a 56-41 lead with 16:17 to go. The lead never got under 11 after that, reaching 21 at 69-48 midway through the second half.
Western’s home win streak ties the mark of 20 originally set from 1970 to 1972. Western is 10-0 at Carver Gym this season.
The Vikings close out their four-game home stand Saturday, facing No. 4 Seattle Pacific in a GNAC contest at 7:30 p.m.