Seattle University women’s basketball (16-15) built a lead in the first half and maintained it throughout much of the contest as they came away with the 84-79 win over No. 2 Bakersfield (19-11) in the Western Athletic Conference tournament semifinals. The Redhawks advance to face No. 1 Idaho (24-8), a repeat matchup from last year’s championship game.

“This was a hard fought game,” said head coach Joan Bonvicini. “Bakersfield is a really good shooting team and is really scrappy. [Tyonna] Outland is a terrific athlete and scorer. For us, we just wanted this win and our defense and rebounding, particularly from Wilma and Kacie, was instrumental. We got really good production from our bench and Sylvia Shephard’s steal down the stretch was really key.”

The Roadrunners earned the first possession off the tip but Seattle U would score the first four points on back-to-back layups by seniors Kacie Sowell (Ventura, Calif.) and Sylvia Shephard (Alta Loma, Calif.).

The Redhawks extended their lead, 9-4, by 17:02 on a layup by Wilma Afunugo (Plano, Texas) and a three by Alexis Montgomery (Beaverton, Ore.) with just over 17 minutes left in the half.

Afunugo added a layup before Erika Williams cut the SU lead to two, 11-9, on a three-pointer at 15:03. A purely defensive battle over the next minute and a half, Sowell put the Redhawks ahead by four but Dajy Vines cut it to one, 13-12, at 13:16 on a three-point play with the extra point accompanying the foul.

Tyonna Outland tied the game twice over the next three minutes before Bakersfield took their first lead, 17-15, halfway through the opening period on a pair of free throws by Outland.

The Rodarunners would keep the lead until Sowell drove in a layup at 7:50 to regain the Redhawk lead they would keep for the majority of the rest of the half. A three-point play by Shephard at 6:20 gave SU the four point lead, 29-25, before Melissa Sweat regained the CSUB lead, 32-31, at 4:52.

A pair of Makenna Clark (Lake Tapps, Wash.) free throws gave SU the lead at 4:42, which they would keep through the halftime break. Another pair of Clark free throws with 20 seconds left before half put Seattle U ahead by as many as seven, 41-34, before Shaquita Smith cut Bakersfield’s deficit to four, 41-37, on a three-pointer near the halftime buzzer.

The two teams traded baskets as the Redhawks would lead again by four seven different times in the opening seven minutes of the game, last leading 55-51 at 13:21 on a layup by Sowell.

Bakersfield cut it to one three different times over the next five minutes but Clark and Afunugo combining to go 3-for-4 from the line near the eight-minute mark and a layup by Taelor Ross (Vancouver, Wash.) at 7:02 would put the Redhawks up by eight, 67-59.

The Roadrunners would cut it to four again three different times over the next three minutes, but a layup and pair of free throws by Shephard would give the Redhawks another eight point lead, 75-67, with three minutes remaining. The Redhawks would go 7-for-10 from the free throw line over the final three minutes to come away with the victory, 84-79.

Sowell led the Redhawks with 20 points and 12 rebounds, recording her 12th double-double of the season. Ashley Ward (Irvine, Calif.) (15 pts), Afunugo (15 pts), and Montgomery (10 pts) also added double scoring figures for SU.

The Redhawks outrebounded the Roadrunners, 37-34, also leading in assists, 16-12. SU shot 56 percent (28-for-50) from the field as well as 74.3 percent (26-for-35) from the line.

Seattle U will face Idaho in the WAC championship game at 1 p.m. on ESPNU. Brian Abker will also be calling the game on, where fans can also find live stats during the contest.

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