Hawken Heats Up As Wolves Hunt Down Semifinal Berth
Western Oregon's Riley Hawken (No. 32) led his team with 15 points on Thursday.
Western Oregon's Riley Hawken (No. 32) led his team with 15 points on Thursday.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

BELLINGHAM, Wash. – Behind a 15-point performance from forward Riley Hawken and a strong second half, No. 4 seed Western Oregon took down No. 5 Montana State Billings for a 79-72 victory in the quarterfinals of the GNAC Men's Basketball Championship. 

The victory allowed the Wolves to finish 3-0 on the season against the Yellowjackets. The loss dropped their record to 15-14 on the season while WOU advances to face top-seeded Saint Martin's in Friday's second semifinal.  

Hawken (15 points, five rebounds) and sophomore Darius Lubom (13 points, four rebounds, four assists) led Western Oregon in the winning effort. Hawken was nearly perfect, ending the night on 6 of 7 shooting from the field. Lubom carried the team's backcourt off the bench, impressing in 29 minutes on the floor.

Montana State Billings forward Zack Rollins led all scorers with 23 points on the night. As a team, the Yellowjackets shot 44.6 percent from the field. 

The first half was a back-and-forth affair that featured more lead changes than an off-Broadway show. The lead exchanged hands nine times in the first 20 minutes, with the score having been tied on seven separate occasions. That last time came at the halftime buzzer, the score even at 32-32 with both teams heading to the locker rooms.

It was the tournament's No. 4 seed that jumped out to an early lead in the second half.

Western Oregon scored 12 of the first 14 points in the second stanza to stake itself to a 44-34 lead, an advantage they would not give back the rest of the way.

The Yellowjackets were able to pull within a couple of possessions twice in the final four minutes but could never get the lead cut under six. The final score was 79-72, punching WOU's ticket to Friday's semifinal.

That semifinal will tip-off at 7:30 p.m. on Friday night against the No. 1 seed Saints. For those not in attendance in Bellingham, the game will be streamed live on GNAC.tv.