SEATTLE – (Dec. 3) Seattle University men's basketball never trailed as they took a commanding lead early, led by as many as 32 midway through the second half and cruised to an 84-65 win over visiting Eastern Washington Sunday afternoon at KeyArena.
The match-up marked the first meeting between Redhawks' Head Coach Jim Hayford and his former team. The win for Seattle U keep the team unbeaten at home this season (4-0) and stretched the current win streak to three straight. Eastern dropped to 3-5 on the season.
"This game was all about the players and we came through with our best game so far on both ends of the court," said Hayford. "We looked like a really solid team today and we're starting to form an identity that I believe will yield more and more success."
Jordan Hill drained a three 24 seconds into the game and the Redhawks would lead the entire rest of the way.
A Jesse Hunt jumper with 13:53 remaining in the first cut Seattle U's lead to five, 17-12. But the Redhawk defense would clamp down, forcing the Eagles into a five-minute scoring drought.
At the other end of the court, they reeled off 10 straight points, beginning with a jumper by Matej Kavas. Scott Ulaneo scored on a layup, Kavas hit a three, Richaud Gittens made a layup and the and-one free-throw, and Seattle U was in command, 27-12, with 8:23 to go.
Eastern put together an 8-0 spurt late in the half, pulling to within eight, 36-28, but a clutch three from Hill helped the Redhawks close out the half on a 7-2 run to take a 43-30 lead into the break.
Seattle U's defense continued to stifle the Eagles in the second half as the visitor went 1-for-10 over the opening 10 minutes. The Redhawks' lead ballooned to 31, 67-36, by the 10:13 mark of the second frame. The spread would hit a game-high 32, 17-39 on a Josh Hearlihy jumper with 8:23 to play.
With the game firmly in control, the Eagles would outscore the Redhawks 26-13 over the final eight minutes.
"We held a really good offensive team to under 40 percent and just 20 percent from three," said Hayford. "Richard did a fantastic job on Bogdan (Bliznyuk) and all around, we turned in a really solid performance against a really good team."
Kavas led four Redhawks in double-figures with a game-high 26. Hearlihy had 20 points, Hill had 13 and Gittens chipped in 11. Hill Added six boards, eight assists and three steals to his line while Aaron Menzies went 3-for-3 from the field and 2-for-2 form the line for eight points.
The Redhawks shot nearly 51 percent from the field, including 57 percent in the opening frame, and 53 percent from three, including 6-of-8 in the first half. The nation's leader in free-throw percentage also went 19-for-21 (90.5 percent) from the stripe.
Richard Polanco and Ty Gibson had 10 points apiece for Eastern. Leading scorer Bogdan Bliznyuk, who entered the game averaging 15.6 ppg, finished with four points on 2-of-6 shooting in 36 minutes.
The Redhawks look to make it four straight, and remain unbeaten at home, Monday, hosting Pacific Lutheran. Tip-off from the Connolly Complex is set for 7 p.m. The game will stream live on the WAC Digital Network and can be heard live on KTTH 770 AM.