Seattle University women’s basketball (9-17, 3-8 WAC) held the lead at halftime but hot shooting from UTRGV (15-11, 7-4 WAC) in the second half led the Vaqueros to a 76-71 win in Western Athletic Conference play.

“We did a really good job in the first half but I think we allowed Goff to go off in the second half and put them on the line way too much,” said head coach Joan Bonvicini. “We need to get to the line too and, in the second half, we made some bad turnovers that they converted on. I think we played really hard but we need to play smarter and play better defense. “

The Redhawks took an 8-2 lead by the 7:21 mark of the first quarter on back-to-back three’s from Masha Shtikel (Shoreline, Wash.) and Tal Sahar (Tarzana, Calif.). SU extended their lead to eight two different times by the 4:36 mark and would lead by as many as 11, 17-6, on a 7-2 run over a two minute period. The Redhawks extended their lead back to 11, 19-8, on a pair of Sahar free throws with 1:37 left in the opening period and Seattle U would lead, 19-14, after the first 10 minutes despite a UTRGV 6-0 run.

The Vaqueros cut the SU lead to seven, 23-16, but a Taelor Ross (Vancouver, Wash.) layup would put the Redhawks up by as many as 13, 29-16, by the four-minute mark of the second quarter. A 7-2 Redhawk run would give Seattle U another 13-point lead, 36-23, with 1:22 until half and they’d remain ahead by double digits at the halfway point, 36-26, after an Anushka Maldonado three.

Seattle U would lead by as many as 14, 51-37, with 5:35 remaining in the third quarter, their largest lead down the stretch before UTRGV cut it to seven on seven straight free throws. Sahar hit a three two minutes later as the Redhawks jumped back out to nine, 54-45, but UTRGV went on a 9-2 run to cut the SU lead to two, 56-54, heading into the final 10 minutes.

Four ties within the first three minutes of the fourth quarter, Hildur Kjartansdottir regained the UTRGV for good with a layup at 6:59. Five straight points from Shawnte’ Goff gave the Vaqueros a seven-point lead and, despite Sahar scoring five consecutive to cut it to two, 70-68, UTRGV would close out the 76-71 win.

Sahar scored 19 while Ross (12) and Best (10) also scored in double figures for Seattle U. All eight Redhawks receiving minutes added to the scoring tally.

Despite the loss, Seattle U out-rebounded UTRGV, 42-36, and led, 21-14, in assists. The Redhawks also shot 41.3 percent (26-for-63) from the field as well as 34.5 percent (10-for-29) from behind the arc and 90 percent (9-for-10) from the line.

The Redhawks host WAC leader NM State on Saturday, Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. in the first nationally televised game from the newly renovated Connolly Complex. The game also serves as the team’s annual Play4Kay game with the donation link found at Fans can also purchase a pink t-shirt at the door for $10, receiving free admission to the game, with other ways to donate throughout the game. Seattle U alumni can also receive free admission to the game (NCAA rules apply).

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