If you’re impressed by won-lost records, you’ll be impressed by this: Western Washington’s men and women are a combined 58-5 after Tuesday night, which saw both Viking teams advance to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight.
WWU’s women, with Mabton senior Trishi Williams turning in yet another stellar performance, beat Simon Fraser 75-58 in the West Region championship game in Bellingham.
The men, meanwhile, got a key steal from ex-Yakima Valley Community College star Rico Wilkins en route to a 62-58 conquest of Seattle Pacific in the men’s region title game, also in Bellingham. Williams produced 11 points, seven rebounds and four assists for Western’s women (28-3 and ranked fifth nationally), who will meet Nova Southeastern in a national quarterfinal on March 26 in San Antonio.
Wilkins, sixth man for Western’s men (30-2 and ranked fourth), forced a steal near midcourt with only nine seconds left and the Vikings ahead 59-58. Richard Woodworth followed by making two free throws to seal the win.
Western, the defending national champion, has won 30 games for the second straight season and will oppose Florida Southern at Louisville, Ky., on March 28.
Not a bad first season for WWU coach Tony Dominguez, the longtime assistant who succeeded Brad Jackson last summer when Jackson opted to join Lorenzo Romar’s staff at Washington.
Tuesday’s win was Western’s third in four tries this season against SPU, which ended its season with a 27-4 record and, while ranked second nationally was the region’s No. 3 seed. WWU won 66-56 in Seattle and 83-76 in overtime in Bellingham before bowing 72-70 in the GNAC tournament championship game.
At Western’s Sam Carver Gym, the Vikings have won 27 straight games and were 17-0 this season, including an 86-85 win over Central Washington on Jan. 10 in which WWU’s Paul Jones scored on a layup with 2.2 seconds left for the victory.