SEATTLE – (Jan. 26) The old adage of "defense and free throws win games" rang true Friday night at KeyArena. Jordan Hill blocked a potential game-tying three pointer and Scott Ulaneo sank two clutch free throws as Seattle University men's basketball hung on for a 59-55 win over visiting CSU Bakersfield in Western Athletic Conference action.
"Bakersfield makes it really, really hard to score, so respect to them," said Head Coach Jim Hayford. "We are very fortunate to have come out on this side. Bottom line is that we made one or two more winning plays."
A grind-it-out game from tip to final buzzer, the Redhawks (15-8, 4-2 WAC) led by 10, 53-43, with 3:50 to play. But field goals were at a premium and the Roadrunners (8-13, 1-5 WAC) pulled to within two, 55-53, on a Damiyne Durham three pointer with 1:21 to play.
Josh Hearlihy would hit one of two from the charity stripe with 22 seconds remaining to give the Redhawks a 56-53 advantage. Then came Durham's three-point attempt from the right wing. But Hill flew in to block the shot, Ulaneo came up with the rebound and was immediately fouled.
The sophomore sank both free throws to make it a two-possession game, 58-53. The 'Runners hit a jumper with two ticks on the clock, but Morgan Means made one of two from the line for the final four-point balance.
Aaron Menzies led the Redhawks with 16 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks, earning his third consecutive double-double, and ninth of the season. Also in double-figures were Hill with 11 and Matej Kavas with 10.
"We're getting really good minutes from Aaron, Jordan came up with a big winning play and Scott made two clutch free throws," Hayford said. "That was a really gritty win, something we couldn't have done three weeks ago."
The Redhawks finished 17-of-23 (74 percent) from the free-throw line, including 16-of-20 in the second half.
CSUB was paced by Shon Briggs' 14 points while Durham chipped in 13.
The 'Runners led early in the first half, building a 10-5 advantage five minutes in. A Kavas three, followed by a Means jumper knotted the score at 10-10. Seattle U would take its first lead, 16-15, on a Hearlihy three at the 8:53 mark. The Redhawks would lead 29-25 at the half and never trail in the second frame.
Seattle U continues its two-game WAC homestand on Saturday, Feb. 3, hosting Utah Valley for Homecoming. Festivities will begin at 6 p.m. with a pregame rally at the Coke Corner of KeyArena. Halftime will feature the presentation of the Royals, as well as a special appearance by Hall of Famers Elgin Baylor. Tip off from KeyArena 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.