Seattle University women’s basketball (9-21) took an early lead and sustained it for the majority of the first half, but late CSU Bakersfield (12-18) runs would propel the ‘Runners to a 62-54 victory in the first round of the Western Athletic Conference tournament. With the loss, a historic season in which Coach Joan Bonvicini earned her 700th career win, a newly renovated Connolly Center opened, and senior Taelor Ross (Vancouver, Wash.) passed the 1000 points mark comes to a close.

“I thought we competed really hard tonight,” said Bonvicini. “They’re a good team and the hardest thing for us is we need to take better care of the ball. That put us in a tough situation at times and in the second half, they made their run and we could never recover and come back. I’m proud of our team and how hard we competed but Bakersfield was the better team tonight.”

Erika Williams gave Bakersfield a lead with a layup 1:14 into the contest before Seattle U jumped out to a 7-2 lead four minutes later on four straight points from Wilma Afunugo (Plano, Texas). The Roadrunners came within one three different times over the remainder of the quarter before Kaylee Best (Seattle, Wash.) gave the Redhawks a four-point lead, 14-10, at the first quarter break.

Williams again scored the first points of the second quarter, a three-pointer a minute in, before Ashlyn Lewey (Spokane, Wash.) hit a three and Best followed with a layup to give SU a six-point lead, 19-13, by 8:05. The ‘Runners would follow with a 8-0 run to take their first lead since early in the contest, 21-19, capped by a Williams three.

SU tied the game three different times over the final 3:40 left before half, for the final time at 26 with 17 seconds remaining, before Alexxus Gilbert gave CSUB a two-point lead at half, 28-26, on a pair of free throws.

Tal Sahar (Tarzana, Calif.) tied the game on a layup 15 seconds into the second half and the Redhawks would regain the lead, 31-30, on a Best three before Ross tied the game at 33 with 7:30 remaining in the third period. The ‘Runners responded with a 9-0 run, on a four-point contribution from Williams, before Ross stopped the SU scoring drought with a layup at 3:56.

Sahar hit a three and Shaylin Heredia (Tolleson, Ariz.) went 1-for-2 from the line to pull SU within six, 45-39, before Dajy Vines closed the quarter with a layup to give CSUB an eight-point lead going into the final 10 minutes of play.

Back-to-back layups from Lewey and Ross as part of a 7-3 Redhawk run brought SU within eight, 56-48, three minutes into the final quarter but it would be as close as they would come, falling 62-54 to the ‘Runners.

Best and Sahar led the Redhawks with 13 points apiece while Shtikel had a team-high nine rebounds.

SU led in shooting from the field, shooting 40.8 percent (20-for-49) to Bakersfield’s 39.0 percent (23-for-59) as well as from behind the arc, shooting 35.0 percent (7-for-20) to Bakersfield’s 29.6 percent (8-for-27).

The Redhawks say goodbye to seniors Ross, Cydnee Ceballos (Phoenix, Ariz.), and Kristin Stoffel (Mill Creek, Wash.) and look forward to next Tuesday’s team banquet on Tuesday, Mar. 15 at the Space Needle.

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