ELLENSBURG, Wash. » Brigham Young-Hawaii is rolling at the right time.
Fresh off its upset of 15th-ranked Cal State Dominguez Hills on Friday night, the seventh-seeded Seasiders led wire-to-wire yesterday and knocked off sixth-seeded Alaska-Anchorage 100-91 in the West Regional of the NCAA Division II national basketball tournament.
BYUH (20-8) faces fourth-seeded Dixie State (22-6) in tomorrow’s final (4 p.m. Hawaii time). The winner of the all-PacWest final advances to the Elite Eight in Springfield, Mass., beginning March 23.
The teams split during the regular season, each winning on the other’s home court. BYUH won 83-61 in St. George Utah on Jan. 27 and Dixie State won in Laie 99-96 in double overtime Feb. 26.
Jet Chang led the Seasiders with a game-high 26 points on 7-for-15 shooting and 10-for-11 from the free-throw line. Rory Patterson added 22 points, including a 4-for-6 performance from the 3-point arc.
The Seasiders scored 100 points against an Anchorage team that had held opponents to just 67 points a game this year.
"It doesn’t matter the point total," Patterson said. "If we won 50-45, we’d be just as happy."
BYUH took advantage of baskets in transition in the opening half. Up only 6-5 early on, the Seasiders went on a 6-0 run in two possessions as Chang and Jake Dastrup both hit 3-pointers to make it 12-5. BYUH kept the pressure on the Seawolves by hitting 64 percent of its shots during the opening 10 minutes of the game.
"We felt we could run on them," BYUH head coach Ken Wagner said. "But they do a great job defensively and we felt then that we could kick it out on the outside."
BYUH did just that, hitting from beyond the 3-point arc 11 times.
Anchorage (24-10) finally woke up midway through the half, as both teams traded baskets in transition with the Seawolves later capping a 5-0 run at the 9:51 mark when Casey Robinson hit from the arc to cut into the BYUH lead to 22-19.
That momentum shift proved to be short-lived as the Seasiders started pulling away as halftime neared.
"We were hoping to take advantage of our size difference," UAA head coach Rusty Osborne said. "It got to a point when that wasn’t happening, plus they were making shots."