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Originally published Monday, March 12, 2012 at 9:51 PM

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Western men advance, beat SPU 56-50

The Vikings held the Falcons to 28 percent shooting while claiming a spot in the NCAA Division II basketball Elite Eight.

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BELLINGHAM — John Allen scored 16 points as top-seeded Western Washington held off Seattle Pacific 56-50 Monday night for the NCAA Division II West Regional men's basketball championship before 1,968 fans at Carver Gym.

The defeat ended the season for SPU and sends top-seeded Western to Highland Heights, Ky., on March 20 for the Division II Elite Eight. The Vikings (28-5), ranked No. 12 nationally, will face Midwestern State of Wichita Falls, Texas, or Arkansas Tech of Russellville. Those teams play in the South Central Region final on Tuesday.

Allen, a junior guard from Mountlake Terrace, was named West Region MVP as WWU improved to 17-1 at home, setting a school record for home victories in a season. The Vikings' trip to the Elite Eight is their first since 2001.

"To have this kind of accomplishment is a feather in our players' caps," said Vikings coach Brad Jackson. "I'm real proud of their effort and their fight. I thought we really came together down the stretch."

Seattle Pacific, which shot a season-low 28.1 percent in the defeat, finished 23-8 after advancing to the regional final for the first time since 2006.

Junior center Andy Poling led the third-seeded Falcons with 15 points. Junior forward Jobi Wall had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

SPU hit just 16 of 57 shots, including 4 of 19 three-point attempts. The Falcons' top three scorers — Poling, Wall and David Downs — shot less than 25 percent combined. Poling was 6 of 20 and Downs 0 of 7.

Western, meanwhile, shot 23 of 55 (41.8 percent), including 7 of 19 from long distance.

WWU reached the West final by defeating Grand Canyon 79-73 and Chico State 74-65. SPU got there by edging Dixie State 70-68 and No. 2 seed Alaska Anchorage 80-67.

The Vikings won all three games against Seattle Pacific this season, sweeping both during Great Northwest Athletic Conference play.

It was the second time the longtime rivals played for the regional championship. In 2006, SPU won at Brougham Pavilion in Seattle, 81-77, and eventually went on to the Elite Eight.

From sports-information reports.

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