Western Washington Cruises Past Pioneers In First Round
Play Video Kiana Gandy tallied 13 points for the Vikings in the first-round victory. Photo by: Kenneth Hickey
Kiana Gandy tallied 13 points for the Vikings in the first-round victory. Photo by: Kenneth Hickey

Friday, March 10, 2017

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Western Washington didn’t get much resistance in its first-round encounter with sixth-seeded Cal State East Bay, winning 74-48 at the Alaska Airlines Center on Friday afternoon in the NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball West Regional.

The Vikings (26-5) have now won 20 consecutive games against teams other than Alaska Anchorage and improve to 3-0 this year against CCAA schools. The Pioneers’ season comes to an end with a 22-9 record after winning the CCAA tournament to earn the automatic berth into the tournament.

Western Washington never trailed in the game, opening play with a 9-0 run. With 2:44 left in the opening quarter, freshman Lexie Bland knocked down a 3-pointer for a 16-5 lead. The lead shrunk back to single digits for only a combined 27 seconds for the rest of the game. Senior Taylor Peacocke made a lay-up early in the fourth quarter to push the lead to a game-high 28 points at 62-34 before the Vikings cleared the bench.

Peacocke and Tia Briggs each tallied 18 points for WWU, and Kiana Gandy added another 13 points, making 2 of 3 attempts from beyond the arc. Rackel Albert tallied a team-high 10 rebounds and Jessica Valley had nine assists to go along with three steals and five rebounds. Pioneers’ Shomari Harris tallied a game-high 23 points and Morgan Greene added 10 rebounds for CSUEB.

The No. 3-seeded Vikings will next play against No. 2 California Baptist, which was the PacWest tournament and regular sason champion. The two teams have not met previously this year. That game will tip off at 5 p.m. (Alaska) on Saturday.

This is the Vikings first NCAA postseason victory since 2013 when the team reached the Final Four. In program history, the Vikings have a 15-15 record in the NCAA tournament. Peacocke made 9 of 20 field goals in the victory, bringing her season scoring total to 720 points, further distancing herself in the GNAC record book.

This is the fourth time this year that Western Washington held an opponent under 50 points after doing so in the first two games of the season and again in a 65-45 win against Western Oregon in January. The Vikings held the Pioneer offense to a 29.4 field goal percentage, including 11.8 percent from beyond the arc, while forcing the CCAA Champions into 21 turnovers.