Ex-Cougar sparks Seattle Pacific
Simon compiled 18 points and a career-high 13 rebounds Monday, helping second-ranked Seattle Pacific post its school-record-tying 27th win with a 67-54 triumph over No. 5 Cal Poly Pomona in the second round of the NCAA Division II men’s basketball Ttournament at Western Washington University’s Carver Gymnasium in Bellingham.
“We’re excited to advance,” SPU’s Looney exclaimed. “Cal Poly Pomona is a great team. It’s a little bit of a shame we had to play each other this early in the tournament. Right now, we feel fortunate to get through that one.” The third-seeded Falcons (27-3) advance to the West Regional championship game for the second straight season.
They will meet top-seeded and No. 4-ranked Western Washington tonight at 8:30 in Bellingham. It will be the fourth meeting this season between the Great Northwest Athletic Conference rivals.
Western beat Cal State San Bernardino 86-77 on Monday as guards Richard Woodworth; John Allen, another former WSU transfer; and Rico Wilkins combined for 51 points for the defending national champions.
The Vikings improved to 29-2.
Cal State San Bernardino, the No. 5 seed in the West Regional, concluded its season 20-9 despite a game-high 28 points from forward Kwame Alexander.
Saint Mary’s in a hurry
The Saint Mary’s Gaels had no time to celebrate their selection to the NCAA Division I tournament.
Soon after learning they’d be playing 48 hours later in a “First Four” game more than 2,000 miles away, players rushed home to do laundry, pack and learn as much as they could about the Middle Tennessee State team they’re facing today at the University of Dayton.
“I’ll tell you this, I didn’t see the rest of the (selection) show,” Saint Mary’s coach Randy Bennett said. “Once I saw our name called and that we were playing Tuesday, it was a mad scramble.”
Saint Mary’s left Moraga at about 6 a.m. on Monday for its charter flight and arrived in Dayton just 90 minutes before its late afternoon news conference.
The Gaels are making their third NCAA tournament appearance in four years.
Gaels senior Matthew Dellavedova said he spent time Sunday night watching film of the Sun Belt Conference tournament and noted how hard and physical the Blue Raiders (28-5) play.
Bennett called the Blue Raiders “athletic, strong and physically gifted.”
Liberty’s trip delayed
Liberty’s latest tournament experience has already hit a snag.
An NCAA official said the Virginia school that overcame a 20-loss season to win the Big South tourney title and an improbable third bid to the NCAA tournament had a flight delay because of mechanical problems en route to Dayton, Ohio.
The Flames (15-20) are scheduled to face MEAC tourney champ North Carolina A&T today in a first-round game. The winner faces No. 1 overall seed Louisville on Thursday in Lexington, Ky.