LACEY — Central Washington’s Mark McLaughlin hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the sixth-seeded Wildcats a 79-78 victory over third-seeded Alaska Anchorage in the men’s quarterfinals of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Tournament on Thursday night at Saint Martin’s University’s Marcus Pavilion.
The Wildcats (17-12) advance to play second-seeded Seattle Pacific (23-3) at 5:15 p.m. today in the first of two semifinal games.
In Thursday’s other quarterfinal game, Alaska Fairbanks eliminated defending GNAC tournament champion Montana State Billings, 87-73.
Central Washington trailed by two, 78-76, with 2.5 seconds remaining after Kyle Fossman’s lay-in for Anchorage (18-9). The Wildcats called a timeout and set up a play that resulted in McLaughlin’s winning 3-pointer.
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Central had trailed by as many as 19 points early in the second half but tied the game at 76 when Kevin Davis made a free throw to complete a three-point play with 14 seconds left.
McLaughlin, a transfer from Tacoma Community College, led all scorers with 32 points — one point shy of his season high. He was 11 of 19 from the floor, including 3 of 5 from 3-point range.
Nate Walker and Jordan Coby added 13 and 11 points, respectively, for Central.
Liam Gibcus led Anchorage with 18 points.
Alaska Fairbanks 87, Montana State Billings 73: Five players scored in double figures for Fairbanks, led by Stefan Tica’s 17 points, as the Nanooks ousted the Yellowjackets.
Alaska Fairbanks (16-11) will face top-seeded and No. 2-ranked Western Washington (26-1) at 7:30 p.m. today in the second semifinal game.
The Nanooks handed Western Washington its only loss, 77-73, on Feb. 21 in Fairbanks.
The winners of the today’s semifinals will meet in the championship game at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Both semifinal games of the women’s tournament will take place today at Marcus Pavilion.
Sixth-seeded Seattle Pacific (18-10) will face second-seeded and 10th-ranked Simon Fraser (22-4) at noon. Fifth-seeded Northwest Nazarene (20-7) will take on the No. 1 seed, seventh-ranked Western Washington (23-3), at 2:15 p.m.
The winning teams will play for the title at 5:15 p.m. Saturday.