“We need to be consistent and we need to show more toughness, especially in the second half,” said head coach Joan Bonvicini. “Defensively, we need to do a better job, and it hurt us that Taelor [Ross] got in foul trouble. On the positive side, I thought my bench did a really good job, particularly Shay [Heredia] and Masha [Shtikel], but the biggest thing for us is consistency.”
After trailing 6-0 early in the first quarter, Seattle U made a complete line change and Masha Shtikel (Shoreline, Wash.) got the Redhawks on the board with a jumper at 6:47. The Redhawks tied the game two minutes later on a Shaylin Heredia (Tolleson, Ariz.) layup and responded with a 20-4 overall run to close the opening period, taking a double digit lead into the first quarter break.
Raven Benton hit a three-pointer 16 seconds into the second quarter and Long Beach State would score seven straight before Heredia hit a three to put the Redhawks up, 23-17, by the six-minute mark. Tal Sahar (Tarzana, Calif.)’s deep three with just over four minutes left in the half gave SU a 28-20 lead before Cece Wilson scored two for Long Beach State on a put-back intended for a three.
Anna Kim hit a three from the far right to bring the 49ers within two, 28-26, in the final minute of the first half and the Redhawks would hold on for the halftime lead.
Kim tied the game at 28 early in the third quarter before Shtikel regained the SU lead, 31-28, less than a minute later. Shtikel would again put the Redhawks up by six, 36-30, on a three near the seven-minute mark. The 49ers scored on back-to-back possessions near the midpoint of the period to pull within two, 36-34, before Madison Montgomery hit a jumper to give Long Beach State their first lead of the half late in the third quarter.
A 15-7 run to end the third quarter and open the fourth gave Long Beach State a 49-43 advantage by 8:46, matching their largest lead of the game and would extend it to double digits, 57-47, by the 6:13 mark. Shtikel and Delanie Parry (Beaverton, Ore.) combined for a 5-0 run to bring the Redhawks within single digits, 61-53, but the 49ers would close the quarter on a 8-4 run to secure the win.
Heredia recorded a career-high six assists for the Redhawks, breaking her previous career high (5). Shtikel led Seattle U with 13 points while Taelor Ross (Vancouver, Wash.) and Heredia (11) also scored in double figures. Four 49ers scored in double figures, led by Jewelyn Sawyer with 16.
Seattle U will close the non-conference schedule at CSU Northridge on Saturday, Jan. 2 at 4 p.m. before hosting UMKC in the WAC home opener next Thursday, Jan. 7.