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Wolves Pack For Postseason With GNAC Championships Win
Western Oregon is now 29-1 on the season and is on a 22-game win streak. Photo by Skip Hickey.
Western Oregon is now 29-1 on the season and is on a 22-game win streak. Photo by Skip Hickey.
Vince Boumann, pictured with GNAC commissioner Dave Haglund, was named MVP after scoring 33 points in the championships. Photo by Skip Hickey.
Vince Boumann, pictured with GNAC commissioner Dave Haglund, was named MVP after scoring 33 points in the championships. Photo by Skip Hickey.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

ANCHORAGE – Led by a double-double by tournament most valuable player Vince Boumann, No. 1 seed Western Oregon made the most of a defensive battle to win the GNAC Men’s Basketball Championships with a 65-55 victory over No. 3 Saint Martin’s at the Alaska Airlines Center.

Boumann finished the night with 16 points and 13 rebounds. He earned MVP honors after finishing the tournament with 33 points and 18 rebounds in the two contests.

Riley Hawken added 14 points to go along with nine rebounds with 12 of his points coming in the first half. Ali Faruq-Bey added 11 points while Tanner Omlid finished with five points and 11 rebounds.

After breaking three GNAC Championships records in the semifinals the night before, Western Oregon eclipsed two more in the final. The Wolves’ 51 rebounds bettered the old mark of 48 set by WOU against Alaska Anchorage last year while the team’s eight blocks broke the record of seven set by three different teams.

Luke Chavez and EJ Boyce each had 11 points for the Saints while Matt Dahlen finished with seven rebounds and six assists.

With the win, Western Oregon improves to 29-1 overall and runs its current win streak to 22 games. The GNAC’s automatic qualifier to the NCAA Division II Championship, the Wolves hope to be hosting the West Regional next weekend. Saint Martin’s dropped to 24-7 and will wait for Sunday’s selection show to learn their playoff fate.

Scoring was hard to come by for both teams with WOU shooting just 37 percent from the field and SMU shooting just 31 percent. Early on, though, Saint Martin’s made a case that it would be their night as the Saints took a 14-8 lead on Jared Mathews’ lay-in at the 12:31 mark. Foul trouble did not help the Wolves’ cause as the half continued as Omlid picked up his second foul with six minutes gone in the half and Faruq-Bey was whistled for his third with 9:23 to go not long after his three-pointer gave WOU their first lead of the game at 16-14.

Instead of falling back, however, the duo’s teammates picked up the pace. Hawken scored eight of his 12 first-half points in the final five minutes of the stanza, with his lay-in with 4:27 left giving the Wolves a 24-18 advantage. The Saints pulled to within 26-25 on Tavian Henderson’s lay-in with 1:41 left, but WOU outscored SMU 8-5 from that point to take the 34-30 lead into the locker room.

Western Oregon opened the second half by opening up its first double-digit lead of the gane, 42-32, on Hawken’s lay-in at the 15:17 mark and went by 13 points on Faruq-Bey’s trey a minute later. The Saints went on a 10-3 run over the next three minutes and Rhett Baerlocher’s three-point play brought SMU within 48-42 at the midway mark.

The Wolves built the lead back to 10 points on a pair of Brandell Evans’ free throws and went up 13 points on another Faruq-Bey three with 3:01 left. Missed free throws helped keep the Saints in the game and came back to within six when Boyce connected on a 15-footer with 54 second to go. The Wolves’ luck changed in the final minute as Evans hit four free throws and Faruq-Bey nailed a pair to close out the game.

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