SEATTLE - (Jan. 14) Redshirt freshman Matej Kavas exploded for a career-high 24 points to lead three players in double figures as Seattle University men’s basketball pulled away for a 65-50 win over Chicago State Saturday night at KeyArena.
The win gave Seattle U its first in Western Athletic Conference play as the squad now sits an even 9-9 overall and 1-2 in league play. Chicago State drops to 5-15 overall an 1-3 in the WAC.
A slow and grinding affair to start, the Redhawks found themselves trailing early. Kavas would be the team’s spark from the get-go. His first points of the night, a three at the 11:42 mark of the first half, brought SU to within one, 9-8. Minutes later, Kavas would score a layup through traffic, and hit the and-one free throw, in answer to a Chicago State three.
With 4:18 remaining in the frame, Kavas would hit a jumper in the lane and Brendan Westendorf began to heat up as well, draining back-to-back triples to give SU its first lead of the night, 23-22. The Cougars briefly stole the advantage back with a Patrick Szpir jumper, but Kavas would score the final five Redhawk points as SU took a 28-26 lead into the break.
After finishing with 13 points on 4-of-5 shooting in the first half, Kavas’ hot hand continued in the second. He would hit the Redhawks’ first bucket of the frame and later hit a three in the midst of an 8-0 run that opened up a 47-35 SU advantage with 9:50 left to play.
Seattle U would eventually lead by as many as 18 points on a William Powell dunk with 1:30 remaining.
While the offense by Kavas and Westendorf, who finished with 18 points, was the highlight, the Redhawks’ defense turned the tide in the second half. SU held Chicago State to just eight field goals and 27.6 percent shooting over the final 20 minutes.
Emmanuel Chibuogwu joined Kavas and Westendorf in double figures with 12 points. Kavas closed out the career-high hitting 8-of-13 from the field, including four threes. He also added a team-high eight boards.
Seattle U shot 44.7 percent from the field on the night. Two nights after managing just 56 percent from the charity stripe, the league leader in free-throw shooting returned to form, hitting 15-of-19 from the line.
WAC action continues on the road next week as Seattle U heads to Phoenix to face Grand Canyon on Saturday, Jan. 21. The game will be carried locally in the Phoenix area on 3TV, will be streamed live at GCULopes.com and heard on KTTH 770 AM and mynorthwest.com.