BELLINGHAM, Wash. – Guard Richard Woodworth (Sr., Bellevue/Newport) hit a half court shot at the buzzer, lifting Western Washington University to a 94-91 victory over Central Washington University on Saturday in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference men’s basketball contest at Sam Carver Gymnasium on the WWU campus that was televised regionally on ROOT Sports.
Center Austin Bragg (Sr., Longview/Mark Morris) had a career-high 32 points for the Vikings, and Woodworth added 20, 11 of them in the final minute, as the Vikings improved to 18-6 overall and 12-4 in the GNAC.
Central fell to 11-13 overall and 7-9 in the GNAC with its fourth straight loss. Mark McLaughlin, who leads NCAA Division II in scoring at 27.1 points a game, paced the Wildcats with 32, and JB Pillard added 27, including a game-tying layin with 2.9 seconds left.
The Wildcats held a six-point lead, matching its biggest of the game, at 89-83 entering the final minute. Woodworth hit a 3-pointer to close the gap to three, and after the Vikings got a stop at the other end, drove full court, was fouled, and hit two free throws with 21.4 seconds left, closing the gap to one.
Following a timeout, the Vikings applied full-court pressure, and Woodworth knocked loose the inbound pass. The ball popped to Joey Schreiber (R-Fr., Renton/Eastside Catholic), who missed a 3-pointer from the left corner, but Bragg grabbed the rebound in traffic, and fed an underhand pass in the key to Woodworth, who laid the ball in and was fouled with 10.9 to play.
Woodworth’s free throw put the Vikings up, 91-89, but at the other end, McLaughlin found Pillard underneath to tie the game. With WWU out of time outs, Woodworth took the inbound pass, dribbled against pressure and launched a line drive jumper from the left edge of the center jump circle that went in as the clock hit 0:00.
The Vikings, who are now 14-1 at home this season and have won 41 of the last 42 at Carver Gym, shot 55.7 percent (34-of-61) from the field for the game, as Bragg went 14-of-18. Guard Robert Harris, Jr. (Sr., Kent/Rainier Beach) added 12 points for WWU.
Jordan Russell had 13 points for Central. The Wildcats were 27-of-30 (90.0 percent) on free throws, with McLaughlin going 16-of-17.
The game featured 14 ties and seven lead changes, and neither team had a double-digit lead. WWU had a 48-43 lead at halftime, as Bragg had 19 first-half points. It was the last home game for five WWU seniors – Bragg, Harris, Woodworth, Alfred Davis (Sr., Tacoma/Lincoln) and Dane Thorpe (Sr., Bellingham/Sehome).
The Vikings have won 11 of 13 matchups with the Wildcats.
WWU next travels to Saint Martin’s University for a GNAC counter Thursday (7 p.m.).