BAKERSFIELD - (Jan. 7) Playing their second game without 7-3 center, and second leading scorer, Aaron Menzies, the Seattle University men’s basketball team had new players step up in Saturday’s Western Athletic Conference opener at CSU Bakersfield. But despite pulling to within one late in the second half, the Redhawks could never get over the hump in a 78-71 setback to the defending WAC Tournament champs.
Senior Emmanuel Chibuogwu finished with a career-high 18 points, including four triples, to lead four Redhawks in double figures. Redshirt freshman Matej Kavas matched his career-high of 13 in arguably his strongest game of the season.
Dedrick Basile led the ‘Runners with 21 points, including 17 in the first half as the home team built a 46-37 halftime lead. Jaylin Airington had 16 points while Brent Wrapp and Damiyne Durham added 12 apiece.
A slow start saw the Redhawks hit just 3-of-10 to start the game as CSUB opened up an early 18-8 lead. A Morgan Means jumper, a three by Chibuogwu and a Kavas layup gave Seattle U some life and the quick 7-0 run made it an 18-15 game midway through the first half.
But the ‘Runners answered every Redhawk run and despite recovering from their slow start to hit 52 percent from the field for the frame, SU trailed 46-37 at the break.
Seattle U’s offense remained efficient in the second frame as they hit 12-for-23 for a 52.2 percent clip. Their heightened defensive pressure slowed CSUB as well as the ‘Runners went just 9-for-24 from the field (37.5 percent) and committed nine turnovers, which SU turned into 13 points.
A 9-2 run capped by a Westendorf layup midway through the second half had the Redhawks within one, 62-61. But again CSUB answered, this time with four straight free throws as the Redhawks went scoreless for more than four minutes.
A Kavas three pointer followed by two free throws by the redshirt freshman on the ensuing possession had Seattle U within two, 69-67, just inside three minutes to play. But the Redhawks would get no closer as CSUB closed things out from the charity stripe.
CSUb finished with a 39-19 rebounding edge, including 16 offensive boards than they turned into 13 second-chance points.
WAC play continues next week as the Redhawks host UMKC on Thursday, Jan. 12 and Chicago State on Saturday, Jan. 14. Both games will be contested at KeyArena and will be streamed live on the WAC Digital Network and can be heard on KTTH 770 AM and mynorthwest.com.