LAS VEGAS (March 8) – Seattle University women’s basketball used a big fourth quarter to advance to the 2017 Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Tournament semifinals, beating Chicago State, 78-60, on Wednesday afternoon. Wilma Afunugo led the Redhawks with a season-high 22 points at the Orleans Arena.
"I thought we were brilliant in the fourth quarter," said Coach Suzy Barcomb. "We ran some really good sets and knocked shots down."
The teams were engaged in a tight contest through three quarters, with SU hanging on to a 50-48 edge. The Redhawks turned in a terrific fourth period, scoring a season-fourth-quarter high 28 points to put away the Cougars. With the victory, Seattle U moves on to Friday’s semifinals at 2:30 p.m., where it will face sixth-seeded Utah Valley at the Orleans Arena. The Wolverines knocked CSU Bakersfield in overtime Wednesday night.
Alexis Montgomery hit two free throws to start scoring in the final frame. Kaylee Best followed with a steal and found Kamira Sanders for an and-1 at the 8:43 mark. Montgomery made a steal and eventually Best drained a pair of foul shots for a 57-50 lead. CSU scored on the other end, making it a five-point difference with 7:33 to play. Seattle U followed with a 10-0 run over the next three minutes to take command and punch its ticket to the semis.
Montgomery scored after the Redhawks pulled down a pair of offensive rebounds and then Best made a jumper for a 61-52 advantage. After another defensive stop, Best hit Ashlyn Lewey for a triple at the 5:45 mark. Best assisted on a Claire Metoyer three as the lead ballooned to 15 with 4:33 remaining.
The Cougars scored twice to trim their deficit, but Montgomery made a smooth pass to Afunugo for a lay-in at the 3:23 mark. The pair connected for another hoop on SU’s next trip, making it 71-56 and icing the contest.
In the fourth, Seattle U shot 9-14 from the field, hitting three treys and making all of its free throw attempts.
The Redhawks put five players in double figures for the first time this season. Afunugo finished with a season-high 22 points on 11-16 shooting. She grabbed eight rebounds. Montgomery recorded a career-high 18 rebounds to go with 11 points and 4 assists, 2 blocks, and 2 steals. Best put up 13 points, 4 boards, and 4 assists. Metoyer notched 11 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, and a pair of blocks. Lewey added 10 points on 4-4 shooting, including two threes, off the bench.
Seattle U outrebounded CSU, 49-26, including an 18-6 margin on the offensive glass.
SU looked to make quick work of the Cougars, going ahead, 6-0, in the first two minutes. Montgomery made a layup, Afunugo scored, and Metoyer sank a jumper, forcing a CSU timeout. The Cougars rallied with five straight points, but Montgomery answered with a trey at the 6:53 mark. An Afunugo layup made it 11-5 before Chicago State came back with a 5-0 spurt. Afunugo scored twice around two Cougar free throws, but a CSU hoop closed the period with Seattle U ahead 15-14.
The Cougars grabbed the lead early in the second quarter, but Lewey drained a jumper with 7:32 left. After a CSU bucket, Metoyer found Shaylin Heredia for a corner triple to make it 20-all with 6:45 remaining. Chicago State hit a three, but Metoyer replied with a trey of her own.
Down 25-23, Afunugo made a layup to even the score with 3:14 to play in the half. Delanie Parry came up with a putback as SU took the lead. Another Afunugo basket gave the Redhawks a 29-25 advantage. Best scored late, but a Cougar three cut their deficit to 31-30 at the break.
In the third period, Afunugo started hot again, sparking a 7-0 run. She made two layups, continuing her stellar effort. After a Metoyer block, Sanders split two free throws. Sanders then set up an Afunugo bucket with 8:34 showing on the clock, making it 38-30.
After a CSU hoop, Metoyer made a three-pointer. Chicago State then went on a run, pulling within two points. Sanders scored, but the Cougars eventually took a 48-45 lead with 1:11 left in the quarter. Montgomery’s putback cut the margin and then Best drilled a trey to give SU a 50-48 lead with 28 seconds to play in the third.
SU improved to 6-4 all-time in the WAC Tournament. Afunugo's 22 points are the third-most by a Redhawk in tournament history.