Wolves To Host, Saints To Play In Men's West Regional
A win by both GNAC teams in the NCAA West Regional would pit the Wolves and Saints in a rematch on the GNAC Championships final. Photo by Skip Hickey.
A win by both GNAC teams in the NCAA West Regional would pit the Wolves and Saints in a rematch on the GNAC Championships final. Photo by Skip Hickey.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS – For the second time in three years, the road to the Elite Eight goes through Monmouth.

Thanks to its spectacular 29-1 overall record, Western Oregon is the No. 1 seed and has earned the right to host the West Region of the 2017-18 NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Championship. The regional round will run Thursday through Monday at the New P.E. Building on the Western Oregon campus in Monmouth.

The Wolves will open against No. 8 seed Point Loma in the final game of the quarterfinals, which will tipoff at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.

Also making the Division II tournament for the first time is Saint Martin’s, which enters as the No. 5 seed. The Saints will square off in the quarterfinals against the No. 4 seed, Cal Poly Pomona, in the opening game on Friday at 5 p.m. Wins by both teams would result in a rematch of Saturday’s GNAC Championships final.

Western Oregon enters the NCAA Tournament on a 22-game win streak. The Wolves won the GNAC regular-season title with a conference record 19-1 record and, at 29-1, is one of just three teams in Division II this season with 29 or more wins. Western Oregon won both of its games in the GNAC Championships, claiming the title and the conference’s automatic qualifier with a 65-55 win over Saint Martin’s on Saturday. The school is 4-2 in the postseason and advanced to the national semifinals in 2016.

The Wolves are led by the GNAC Player of the Year, senior forward Tanner Omlid, who enters the tournament averaging 13.6 and 6.5 rebounds per game and is among the Division II leaders in steals per game and blocks per game.

Saint Martin’s is experiencing its best season since joining the GNAC in 2001 with a 24-7 overall record. This is just the Saints’ second 20-plus win season in that span. The Saints finished third in the GNAC regular season with a 15-5 mark. Saint Martin’s went 2-1 at the GNAC Championships. They opened with an 87-84 overtime win over Central Washington on Thursday and scored a close 69-68 win over Western Washington in Friday’s semifinals before falling to Western Oregon in the championship game.

Junior guard Luke Chavez leads the Saints. He enters the tournament ranked seventh in the GNAC in scoring at 15.8 points per game and also among the GNAC leaders in assists (4.1 per game), free throw percentage (.840) and steals (1.9 per game).

The remainder of the tournament field includes No. 2 seed Dixie State, the PacWest Conference champion, No. 3 seed Cal Baptist, No. 6 seed UC San Diego, the CCAA champion, and No. 7 seed Azusa Pacific.

At New P.E. Building, Western Oregon University, Monmouth, Ore.
Fri., Mar. 9 – Quarterfinals
No. 6 UC San Diego vs. No. 3 Cal Baptist, Noon
No. 7 Azusa Pacific vs. No. 2 Dixie State, 2:30 p.m.
No. 5 Saint Martin’s vs. No. 4 Cal Poly Pomona, 5 p.m.
No. 8 Point Loma vs. No. 1 Western Oregon, 7:30 p.m.

Sat., Mar. 10 – Semifinals
UCSD/CBU winner vs. APU/DSU winner, 5 p.m.
SMU/CPP winner vs. PLNU/WOU winner, 7:30 p.m.

Mon., Mar. 12 – Championship
Championship Game, 7 p.m.