Seattle Pacific Cruises To Win In West Regional Opener
Wall (23), who scored 21 points to lead SPU to a quarterfinal win Friday, chases down Grand Canyon's Justin Foreman (Photo by Dan Levine).
Wall (23), who scored 21 points to lead SPU to a quarterfinal win Friday, chases down Grand Canyon's Justin Foreman (Photo by Dan Levine).

Friday, March 15, 2013

BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Forwards Jobi Wall and Cory Hutsen and guard David Downs combined for 59 points, leading Seattle Pacfic to an 85-59 victory over Grand Canyon in the NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball West Regional Friday at Sam Carver Gymnasium.

The Falcons, the No.3 seed in the West Region and ranked No.2 in this week’s NABC NCAA Division II national poll, improved to 26-3 overall with their 10th consecutive victory. 

They will play CCAA champion Cal Poly Pomona Monday at 2:30 p.m. in the first of two semifinals.  The Broncos eliminated Chico State 69-61 in Friday's second quarterfinal game.

Wall led SPU with 21 points, converting on 6-of-8 3-pointers.   Downs added 20 points and matched a season-high with 12 assists, and Hutsen came off the bench to score 18 points on 8-of-11 field-goal shooting.

Grand Canyon, the No.6 seed, concluded its season 23-8. Guard Joshua Lowery had 15 points to lead the Antelopes, who shot just 37.0 percent (17-of-46) from the field. 

Grand Canyon held a 22-19 lead with a little more than seven minutes left in the first half, but the Falcons went on a 16-4 charge in a 4:21 span to take a 35-26 lead, and held a 44-32 advantage at halftime.  Downs had 16 points in the opening half, 13 of them in the last eight minutes.

The Antelopes closed to within nine points on a 3-pointer by Braylon Pickrel to open the second half, but never got that close again.

Forward Patrick Simon added 13 points for the Falcons, who shot 57.7 percent (30-of-52) from the field and had a 36-20 advantage in rebounds.

Falcons Fantastic In Regional Opener


BELLINGHAM, Wash. – Coach Ryan Looney emphasizes the importance of productive point-guard play to college basketball success. Fortunately his Falcons have one of the nation’s best at that position.

David Downs posted a 20-point, 12-assist double-double Friday, leading second-ranked Seattle Pacific to an 85-59 men’s basketball victory over Grand Canyon in the first round of the NCAA Division II Tournament at Carver Gymnasium.

The junior point guard factored into 48 points as four of his assists led to three-point possessions for SPU, which won its 10th consecutive game.

“He did an unbelievably good job. If you look at all levels of college basketball, the teams that have great play from their point guard are the teams that are able to make deep runs,” Looney said.

“David is older now, he’s a junior and he’s experienced in this environment. He gave our team a huge lift today.”

Downs matched his career-high assist total and increased his Great Northwest Athletic Conference-leading total in that category to 163, an average of 5.6 per game. He is scoring at a 14.6-point clip, tops on the team.

The third-seeded Falcons (26-3) advance to Monday’s West Regional semifinal to meet No. 2 seed Cal Poly Pomona (28-2) at 2:30 p.m. The fifth-ranked Broncos defeated Chico State 69-61 in their first-round contest.

“We’re excited to advance,” said Looney. “We’ve been here a number of consecutive years now. We know it’s a long process. We’re probably trying not to get overly excited, and get ready for the next one.”

Friday’s final 26-point margin marked the second-most lopsided postseason triumph in school history. The Falcons routed San Francisco State 107-78 in the opening round of the 1965 NCAA Tournament.

Grand Canyon, the No. 6 seed, completed its season with a 23-8 record. Joshua Lowery was the lone double-digit scorer with 15 points for the Antelopes, who were limited to 37-percent shooting (17 of 46).

SPU countered with 58-percent accuracy from the floor (30 of 52), a figure that included 10-of-22 shooting from behind the arc.

Three other players contributed double-figures for SPU, including senior Jobi Wall whose 21 points led all scorers. He made 6 of 9 shots from 3-point range. Cory Hutsen came off the bench for 18 points on 8-for-11 shooting and Patrick Simon added 13 points.

The Falcons outrebounded GCU 36-20, led for the 22nd time this season by sophomore guard Riley Stockton who grabbed seven boards.

SPU didn’t start strong, missing its first four shots and found itself trailing midway through the opening half.

“You could tell that we had some nerves in the first 10 minutes,” Downs described. “Then we all looked at each other in the huddle and said it’s time to start the game now. It almost took us 10 minutes maybe to get our nerves out of the way.”

The Antelopes claimed a 22-19 lead on a layup by Lowery with 7:29 left in the first half. SPU then staged a 16-4 surge fueled by seven points and three assists from Downs. His layup with 2:54 left in the first half provided a 35-26 advantage.

Downs (Kirkland, Wash./Bellevue Christian HS) compiled 16 points and six assists in the first half, helping the Falcons take a 42-32 lead at intermission.

Braylon Pickrel cut that deficit to 42-35 on a 3-pointer 1:34 into the second half, but GCU never got closer than that rest of the way.

The Falcons are participating in the NCAA Tournament for the ninth consecutive season, the longest current streak among Division II men’s basketball teams. They won their opening-round game for the 19th time in 24 all-time playoff appearances.

The West Regional championship game is slated for 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at Carver Gymnasium in Bellingham.

This is the third playoff appearance for Downs and his experience is showing.

“This year I feel a lot more comfortable and I feel like I’m playing basketball, doing what we did to get here rather than trying to do something bigger because it’s the playoffs,” he said.

“We’re excited to be here and feel very blessed. As a team we have one common goal and by far the most fun I’ve ever had playingbasketball is with these guys.”