Tournament host Western Washington broke open a tight game with a surge early in the second half and earned a 70-50 victory over Academy...

BELLINGHAM — Tournament host Western Washington broke open a tight game with a surge early in the second half and earned a 70-50 victory over Academy of Art in Saturday’s opening round of the NCAA Division III West Regional women’s basketball tournament.

The Vikings, the No. 1 seed in the West Region and ranked No. 5 nationally in NCAA Division II, improved to 26-3 with its ninth straight victory and face Cal State Monterey Bay in a regional semifinal at 5 p.m. Monday.

Center Britt Harris of Marysville-Pilchuck, the West Region Player of the Year, had a game-high 15 points and 10 rebounds for WWU, which had all five starters score in double figures.

Academy of Art, the No. 8 seed, had a nine-game winning streak snapped and concluded its season 23-9. Jordan Rogers had 11 points for the Urban Knights, and Regina Camera had 10.

“We got into a helter-skelter game in the first half,” said Vikings coach Carmen Dolfo. “In the second half we calmed down and we played together. We turned the ball over less in the second half, and we didn’t give up second chances.”

Brittani Jefferson’s layin with 3.9 seconds remaining lifted Cal State Monterey Bay to a 66-64 triumph over Chico State.

In another first-round game, Judy Jones had 24 points and 12 rebounds as Grand Canyon broke open a tight contest in the final minutes and claimed a 68-57 victory over UC San Diego.

The Antelopes (23-8) play Simon Fraser (24-5), which earned a 68-57 victory over Northwest Nazarene, in Monday’s other semifinal, at noon.