Seattle University women's basketball traveled to face Idaho (3-9, 0-1 WAC) in their first Western Athletic Conference competition and made several second half comebacks to get their first road victory, 76-71.
"I'm just so proud of our team," said head coach Joan Bonvicini. "This was definitely a team victory, to get our first conference win on the road. I think the thing we showed most was our determination; we've had so many games like this throughout the season that we haven't won, and it was the first time all year that we really got gritty, mentally tough, and really executed down the stretch. It was a great team win, but I really want to compliment Daidra Brown. I think she showed great leadership, and she got the hard three-point play, which was critical for us, so this is something for us to celebrate and to build on. We have a lot more ahead, but this was a good way to start."
The Redhawks gained the opening possession on the tipoff, but Idaho's Jessica Graham put the Vandals on the board first, as they took a 4-0 lead in the opening two minutes.
SU took their first lead, 6-4, by the first media timeout at 15:44, with layups by Sylvia Shephard (Alta Loma, Calif.) and Ashley Ward (Irvine, Calif.) and another jumper by Shephard.
Seattle U evened the score, 11-11, at 14:11 as the teams traded three's, but three straight three's by Idaho's Stacey Barr gave them a seven-point lead, 20-13, with just over 12 minutes remaining in the opening period.
With the Redhawks back within four at the near ten minute mark, 21-17, after a jumper by Ward, the Vandals hit two straight layups to increase their lead to eight, 25-17.
Shephard hit her first three-pointer of the game to bring the Redhawks within five, 25-20, at the 7:35 mark.
Ward scored four straight points to keep the margin at five, 29-24, with just under five minutes remaining, and Daidra Brown (Seattle, Wash.) added two free throws at 4:45 to bring SU within three, 29-26.
Over the remainder of the half, Seattle U went on a 9-7 run, with contributions by four different upperclassmen, to trail by just one, 36-35, at halftime.
A layup by Shephard in the first two minutes of the second half gave the Redhawks their first lead, 37-36, since near the first media timeout of the game. They jumped out to a five point lead, 43-38, their largest lead of the game to that point, with 17:17 remaining.
The Vandals regained the lead, 45-43, with a 7-0 run over the next two and a half minutes but Shephard hit two straight baskets to put SU back up by two, 47-45 around the 14-minute mark.
Highlighted by a three-pointer by Maggie McCarthy (Burlingame, Calif.), the Redhawks continued with a 6-4 run prior to the under-12 media timeout, to lead, 53-49, with 11:19 on the clock.
An even contest over the next four minutes, the SU lead remained at four, 60-56, with just over seven minutes remaining, after a made free-throw by Kacie Sowell (Ventura, Calif.). Shephard increased the lead to six, 62-56, with a fast break layup at 6:56.
On a 15-7 run over the next five minutes, Idaho regained a two-point lead, 71-69, with 1:34 remaining in the contest. Brown hit a layup with 38 seconds remaining, as she was fouled, and made the free throw for a three-point play, to take back the SU lead for good, 72-71. Shephard and Ward added free throws to seal the deal, and Seattle U came away with their first WAC win, 76-71.
Shephard led the Redhawks with 23 points, tying her career high, with two others scoring in double figures (Brown - 19 points, Ward - 16 points). Brown's 19 points set a career high, and she tied her career high with eight rebounds.
The Vandals were led by Stacey Barr with 18 points and seven rebounds. Christina Salvatore and Connie Ballestero each scored 15 points for Idaho.
Overall, Idaho outshot Seattle U from the field, 52.9 percent to 46.2 percent, as well as from behind the three-point line, 60.0 percent to 26.7 percent. From the free-throw line, SU outshot Idaho, 70.6 percent to 50.0 percent. The Vandals also outrebounded the Redhawks, 37-28, but SU led in steals, 20-6.
Seattle U (4-6, 1-0 WAC) welcomes Utah State on Thursday, Jan. 3 at 7 p.m. and San Jose State on Saturday, Jan. 5 at 4 p.m. in their first conference home games.