In Seattle University's first Division I conference game in 33 seasons, the Redhawks pulled ahead in the second half, but the Idaho Vandals rode the three-point shooting of Robert Harris to come from behind for a 71-64 victory Saturday night at KeyArena at Seattle Center.
In a game with eight ties and 10 lead changes, Idaho scored six unanswered points to take a 46-45 lead before Seattle U responded with an 11-3 scoring run over the next seven minutes. The run was punctuated by a three-pointer from Chad Rasmussen (University Place, Wash.), to give Seattle U its biggest lead of the game at 56-49 with 6:07 remaining in the second half.
Kyle Barone pulled down an offensive rebound and followed with a dunk, plus Harris made a layup, as a 6-0 Vandal run pulled the visitors to within one at 56-55. The two teams traded points before Harris hit a three-pointer with 2:34 left in regulation to tie the game at 60-60.
After a layup by Deshaun Sunderhaus (Conyers, Ga.) allowed Seattle U to regain the lead, Harris hit another three-pointer to put the Vandals up, 63-62, with 1:32 remaining. Prince Obasi (Reseda, Calif.) made one of two free throw attempts, but Harris once again connected from long distance as Idaho took a 66-63 advantage into the final minute.
Rasmussen was able to make only one of three free throw attempts in the final 36 seconds, while Idaho hit three of four free throw attempts in the same time frame. The Vandals closed out the contest when Mike McChristian stole the ball and drove in for a dunk as time ran out.
"I give Idaho credit for contesting our guys on shots they normally make. Unfortunately we came out on the wrong end of this one, but I am pleased with the overall effort of our guys. We had a chance to win it down the stretch, but we weren't able to close it out. They hit shots and made stops, and we didn't," Seattle U head coach Cameron Dollar said.
D'Vonne Pickett Jr. (Seattle, Wash.) led the Redhawks with 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field, plus he pulled down six rebounds and dished out three assists. Clarence Trent (Tacoma, Wash.) scored 10 of his 14 points in the first half, and Sunderhaus contributed 10 points, five rebounds, and two blocked shots.
Idaho (5-6, 1-0 WAC) took the lead in the first half thanks in part to a traditional three-point play from Barone and three-pointers from Connor Hill and McChristian that put the Vandals ahead, 22-14, eight minutes into the contest. Trent scored five straight points and Luiz Bidart (Sao Paulo, Brazil) hit a layup to pull the Redhawks to within one at 24-23.
After Hill hit his second three-pointer of the half to extend Idaho's lead to 33-27, Seattle U held the Vandals scoreless over the last five minutes of the first half, as Pickett scored seven of the Redhawks' nine unanswered points, capped by a traditional three-point play, to put the home team ahead at halftime, 36-33.
Barone notched a double-double, leading all players with 25 points and 11 rebounds, while Harris finished with 16 points, Hill earned 12 points, and McChristian contributed eight points, five rebounds, six assists, and three steals. For the game, Idaho shot 43.1 percent (22-of-51) from the field, including 7-of-21 from behind the three-point line, and 74.1 percent (20-of-27) from the free throw line.
The Redhawks committed only 11 turnovers during the game and made 44.6 percent (25-of-56) of their field goal attempts. However, Seattle U was just 4-of-17 from behind the three-point line and lost the rebounding battle, 35-32.
Seattle University (5-6, 0-1 WAC) heads out on the road next weekend for conference games at Utah State Thursday, Jan. 3, and at San Jose State Saturday, Jan. 5. The Redhawks return home to face New Mexico State Thursday, Jan. 10, starting at 7 p.m. at KeyArena.