Seattle University women’s basketball looked for their first win of the season in the semifinals of the Washington Dental Service Thanksgiving Tournament and found success, topping the University of Portland, 63-61.

“Winning just helps you play with more confidence and helps you play looser,” said head coach Joan Bonvicini. “Obviously there are still things we need to work on, but I thought our kids came together. I’m really proud of the way the players came together.”

Seattle U got on the board first, going up 2-0, as Kacie Sowell (Ventura, Calif.) hit a layup at the 19:06 mark. They extended their lead to four, 4-0, with 18:46 remaining on a layup by Brenda Adhiambo (Mombasa, Kenya).

Over the first four minutes, the Redhawks extended their run, 8-2, which they held until the 14:42 mark. Adhiambo added a second layup and Ashley Ward (Irvine, Calif.) hit two free throws.

Annika Holopainen hit a three to put the Pilots back within three, 8-5, at 14:42 but the Redhawks went on another run, to lead by as many as 14, 20-6 at the 11:00 minute mark.

Jasmine Wooton hit a three for Portland, and the two teams traded layups, as Seattle U held onto an 11 point lead, 22-11, for a solid three minutes.

The Pilots went on a 10-2 run over the next six minutes to trail by just three, 24-21. They briefly took the lead, 26-25, at 1:47 on a jumper by Kari Luttinen, but the Redhawks remained in the lead at the half, 29-28.

Sylvia Shephard (Alta Loma, Calif.) recorded double figures in the first half alone, scoring 10 points (5-for-10) in the first period.

Following the halftime break, the teams traded the lead, each going ahead by one, three different times. The Pilots were able to hold onto the lead and extend it by as much as six, 37-31, with 16:57 remaining.

The Redhawks fought back but Portland again led by six, 41-35, at 15:05. SU then started to carve away at the lead and tied the game, 41-41, with 12:37 remaining, thanks to two straight layups by Sowell and two made free-throws by Ward.

UP again regained the lead, leading by as many as six for a third time in the half, 49-43, with 8:18 remaining, but the resilient Redhawks kept fighting back.

Shephard scored seven straight points to put Seattle U ahead by one, 50-49, at the 6:54 mark. Shephard added a free-throw and another three-pointer for a total 11-0 run to put SU ahead, 54-49.

The Redhawks were able to hold on to the lead, leading again by five points two more times throughout the half. The Pilots came within one, 62-61, with 26 seconds on the clock, but Daidra Brown (Seattle, Wash.) added a free-throw to give Seattle U their first victory of the season, 63-61.

Ward recorded two technical fouls in the second half, which resulted in ejection from the game. She is eligible to play in tomorrow night’s championship game.

Shephard led the Redhawks with 21 points and eight rebounds, with Adhiambo also recording eight rebounds. Sowell finished second on the team with 19 points and seven rebounds.

Wooton led Portland with 17 points, with two other Pilots scoring in double figures. Cassandra Thompson scored 15 points and Luttinen recorded 11 in the contest.

Portland outshot Seattle U from the field (49.0 percent to 38.1 percent), as well as from behind the three-point line (23.5 percent to 16.7 percent), but the Redhawks outshot the Pilots from the free-throw line (65.0 percent to 45.0 percent). SU also outrebounded UP, 41-32, and forced 27 Portland turnovers.

Seattle U (1-3) will face Sacred Heart (3-2) in the championship game of the Washington Dental Service Thanksgiving tournament tomorrow night, Saturday, Nov. 24 at 8 p.m. The consolation game will take place at 6 p.m., as Boston College (3-2) faces Portland (1-4).


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