LOUISVILLE, Ky. — John Allen led a balanced attack and Western Washington advanced to the semifinals of the men’s NCAA Division II Tournament with a 96-82 win over Florida Southern University on Thursday.
Allen, a guard from Mountlake Terrace High School, scored 22 points, Austin Bragg had a double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds for the Vikings, who opened up an early lead in a quarterfinal at historic Freedom Hall.
Western’s 13-2 run in a span of less than three minutes opened up a 28-16 advantage midway through the first half. The Vikings held a 59-47 lead at halftime after leading by as many as 17 points.
“I thought it was an outstanding game for us and Florida Southern,” said Western coach Tony Dominguez. “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 defending national champion Vikings improved to 31-2, tying the school record for wins set last year.
Western advances to the national semifinals on Saturday, where it faces Drury at 11:30 a.m. The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.
Florida Southern had an eight-game winning streak snapped. Kevin Capers came off the bench to lead the Moccasins with a game-high 27 points.
Richard Woodworth had 17 points for Western, which is aiming to become the first team to repeat as NCAA Division II champions since Cal State Bakersfield in 1994. Cameron Severson came off the bench to contribute 14 points and Paul Jones added 10.
Western had to survive foul trouble — the Vikings committed 31 fouls in the game — and had four players with four fouls with just under eight minutes remaining. Western’s lead got down to 10 points multiple times before finally getting to nine, 84-75, on a basket by Cameron Vines with 3:17 to go. The lead was never less than nine points after that.
“I was not real concerned to be honest (with the foul trouble).” said Dominguez. “Obviously it was a little frustrating, but we’ve got a good bench.”
This is the third Elite Eight trip for the Vikings. In addition to winning the national title last year, they reached the national semifinals in 2001.
Western shot 55.1 percent (38-of-69) from the field. Allen moved into 12th place among Western career scoring leaders, extending his total to 1,475.
Florida Southern, which entered the contest averaging eight makes and 24.3 attempts per game from 3-point range, finished 5-of-18. The Mocassins did not make their first three until 3:48 remaining in the first half after missing their first four.