Wstrn Wash beats Stonehill 71-66 in D-II semis

JOE KAY AP Sports Writer Published:

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. (AP) -- Rory Blanche scored 16 points Thursday night, leading Western Washington to a 71-66 victory over Stonehill and a spot in its first NCAA Division II title game.

The Vikings (30-5) set a school record with their 30th win. Known for pulling off big comebacks in the tournament, they got ahead by 20 points against the fourth-toughest defense in Division II, then held on in the final minute.

Brian Hamor scored 22 for Stonehill (25-9), the only unranked team in the final four.

Blanche hit a 3 that got Western Washington out of a sloppy start and on a 21-3 spurt that put the Vikings ahead to stay.

Hamor's step-back 3 completed a 10-point run that got it down to 50-41 with 8:02 left. Adam Fazzini hit a 3 that cut it to 61-57 with 1:24 to go.

John Allen, one of the nation's best free-throw shooters at 88.9 percent, made four in a row to secure the win.