The nationally 3rd-ranked Lancers (33-2) also got 13 points and 10 rebounds from center Tori Mitchell to fight off a late Vikings run and return to the regional final for the second time in three seasons.
Nationally 16th-ranked Western Washington (26-6) was led by a career-high 29 points, plus four assists and three blocks from senior forward Tia Briggs, while national scoring leader and Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Year Taylor Peacocke ended her career with 25 points on 10-of-22 shooting and seven assists.
Looking to win the West Region the same court where they won it in 2015, the Lancers trailed 25-19 after the first quarter but surged ahead midway through the second. CBU led 45-36 at the half and never relinquished the advantage in the final 20 minutes, even after Briggs brought her team within 56-55 on a three-point play late in the third quarter.
WWU’s Kiana Gandy kept her team within 72-68 on a layup with 3 minutes left, but CBU answered with consecutive driving layups by Nelson and Kamille Diaz to clinch it. Diaz finished with 13 points, eight assists and three steals, while Olivia Weber added seven points and eight rebounds off the bench for the Lancers.
CBU – the Pacific West Conference regular-season and tournament champion – will face the winner of Saturday’s late semifinal between top-seeded Alaska Anchorage (30-1) and 5th-seeded Simon Fraser (25-7) on Monday at 7 p.m. ADT for the regional title. The winner of that game advances to Columbus, Ohio, for the NCAA Div. II Elite Eight, Mar. 21-24.