In a game that featured nine lead changes and four ties, Seattle University women’s basketball (7-9, 1-0 WAC) made key stops and free throws down the stretch to earn a 69-63 win over UMKC (5-9, 0-1 WAC) in their conference home opener. Head coach Joan Bonvicini now goes for career win No. 700 on Saturday.

“A lot of people came off the bench and really helped us,” said Bonvicini. “Delanie gave us great minutes and I thought she really was a catalyst, Wilma also gave us good minutes and had some key rebounds, and Jacinta did a really nice job. Kaylee was our leading scorer but it was a good team win. It’s all about winning the conference and you have to sweep at home, so we have the first one out of the way. We do need to work on our rebounding, but we took care of the ball better tonight.”

UMKC scored the first four points of the game but Tal Sahar (Tarzana, Calif.) hit a jumper and Kaylee Best (Seattle, Wash.) hit a three as the Redhawks took their first lead of the game, 5-4, three minutes in. The teams traded four lead changes before Best hit another three to give SU a 10-8 lead by the first media timeout at 4:23. Best scored eight of the Redhawks’ opening 10 points in the early lead.

Delanie Parry (Beaverton, Ore.) and Wilma Afunugo (Plano, Texas) extended the Redhawks’ lead, 16-8, with just under two minutes left in the opening quarter before three straight baskets by the ‘Roos cut the SU lead to two, 16-14, by the first buzzer. Taylor Leathers hit back-to-back baskets before Kiana Law added a layup.

Aries Washington tied the game at 16 early in the second quarter to start a 9-0 UMKC run to start the second quarter before Taelor Ross (Vancouver, Wash.) stopped the run with a jumper at 7:11. Sahar hit two three’s over the next two minutes to pull the Redhawks within one, 25-24, with 4:57 until halftime, and Parry would regain the SU lead less than 30 seconds later on back-to-back baskets. After two more ties at 28 and 30, Shaylin Heredia (Tolleson, Ariz.) hit a three to put SU up, 33-30, at half.

Samantha Waldron hit back-to-back three’s and Kristen Moore added a pair of jumpers as UMKC opened the second half with a 10-4 run to lead 40-37, halfway through the third quarter. The Redhawks would respond with a 10-2 run to take a 45-42 lead jumpstarted by back-to-back Best and Jacinta Beckley (Wellington, N.Z.) three’s. The teams traded baskets and Seattle U kept a two-point lead, 47-45, going into the final 10 minutes of regulation.

Best opened the fourth quarter with five straight points before Heredia hit a jumper at 6:08 as Seattle U gained their largest lead of the half, 54-47. Heredia and Waldron traded three’s near the five-minute mark as part of a 7-3 ‘Roo run, SU leading 57-54 by the Redhawks’ first trip to the line with 3:27 remaining. Despite a four-point play by Leathers with 24 seconds left, key stops while taking advantage at the free throw line would seal Seattle U’s victory.

With 20 points, Best led the Redhawks in scoring, followed by Parry (career-high 16) and Heredia (10). Waldron scored a team-high 19 for the ‘Roos.

Seattle U shot well from all aspects, including 45.5 percent (25-for-55) from the field, 37.5 percent (9-for-24) from behind the arc, and 76.9 percent (10-for-13) from the line.

The Redhawks close the homestand and look for a weekend sweep as they host Chicago State on Saturday, Jan. 9 at 2 p.m. PT.

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