Men's Basketball: Vikings Fall to Duke at Cameron
Western Washington's John Allen makes a move toward the basket against the Duke defense Saturday.
Western Washington's John Allen makes a move toward the basket against the Duke defense Saturday.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

DURHAM, NC - Forward Paul Jones (Sr., Kent/Kent-Meridian) scored 20 points, but Western Washington fell to Duke University 105-87 in a  basketball exhibition Saturday afternoon at historic Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Seattle Pacific and Northwest Nazarene also dropped exhibition games to Division I schools.  The Falcons fell at Idaho 77-71, while Gonzaga defeated the Crusaders 93-45 in Spokane.

Center Mason Plumlee tied for game-high honors with forward Ryan Kelly, each having 22 points for Duke, which is ranked No.8 in the Associated Press NCAA I Pre-season poll. Plumlee also had a game-high 11 rebounds.

Freshman guard Rasheed Sulaimon scored 20 points, 15 in the first half to help Duke take a 54-39 halftime lead.

The Vikings, ranked No.8 in the Division II Bulletin Pre-season Top 25, are the defending DII national champions.

It is the fifth time in the last six years that Duke has played host to the defending NCAA II national champion for an exhibition.

"This was a very enjoyable experience for us," said WWU coach Tony Dominguez. "As a coach, and as a fan of the ACC, and the Duke-North Carolina rivalry, it was exciting to be part of this for a couple days. What an environment it was to experience."

Guard John Allen (Sr., Brier/Mountlake Terrace) had 17 points for the Vikings and guard Richard Woodworth (Jr., Bellevue/Newport) added 13. Guard Rico Wilkins (Sr., Dallas, TX/DeSoto) had 12, all in the first half.

"That was a really good basketball game," said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. "I like that team so much; you can tell why they were Division II champions … Their kids are fearless, strong, and they caused a lot of turnovers. I thought we responded well."

The Blue Devils never trailed, and took the lead for good with 10 straight points that turned a 7-7 tie just over two minutes into the contest into a 17-7 lead 1:40 later. Suliamon had seven of Duke’s first 17 points, and Kelly added six.

WWU closed to within seven, at 39-32, with 6:24 left in the half, but after a Duke timeout, the Blue Devils ran off 13 consecutive points and the margin was double digits the rest of the way.

"I think the strength and physicality forced us a little further away from the basket and to different spots than we’re used to," said Dominguez. "For the most part, we did a nice job executing. We definitely have a lot to work on, but that’s what exhibition games are for, and what a great opportunity to do it against Duke."

The Vikings shot just 37.2 percent (16-of-43) from the field in the first half, but found the range in the second half at 54.1 percent (20-of-37). Jones was key in that, scoring 16 points in the period on 8-of-10 shooting after being just 2-of-7 in the first half.

"I was trying to use my speed a little bit," Jones said. "I knew they would guard me and they were a lot bigger. I tried to go to the hole or pull up for a jumper. We knew they were a tough team, I just tried to do the best I could do. We’re very competitive, we don’t like to lose."

Guard Quinn Cook and forward Amile Jefferson each had 13 points for Duke, which shot 57.6 percent (24-of-59) from the field, and made 31-of-40 free throws (77.5 percent).

"D-II teams are some of the best coached teams in the country," said Krzyzewski, who said he believed John Allen would compete well in the ACC. "They usually play because they love the game, they have great camaraderie and they play together. If you get a group like that that’s older, and good, they can compete against a lot of D-I schools … We could have lost to them today if our younger kids don’t play well."

WWU, which lost 88-78 in an exhibition at University of Washington last Wednesday, opens its official season Friday, Nov. 9, entertaining Multnomah Bible at Sam Carver Gymnasium on the WWU campus.