Seattle University women’s basketball (8-6, 5-0 WAC) found themselves down early in the contest, but made several runs throughout the second half to come back and top Denver, 69-66 (8-9,3-3 WAC). The win extended the Redhawks’ undefeated conference schedule, as they are now 5-0 in Western Athletic Conference action, and still on top of the league.
“This was a huge win for us against a very good Denver team,” said head coach Joan Bonvicini. “We really struggled early, maybe it was the travel or the altitude, but Denver was really hitting shots and we were getting outrebounded. I thought after halftime, we really established more of an inside game because they were doubling and tripling Kacie Sowell. I thought Ashley Ward had a huge game and Sylvia Shephard hit some excellent threes. Daidra Brown, when she starts scoring, it just opens things up. Right now our team is just playing with confidence; when a game is close, we just believe we’re going to pull it out.”
Denver took the early lead, 4-0, and despite Ashley Ward (Irvine, Calif.) getting the Redhawks on the board with a jumper at 16:19, Seattle U found themselves down, 11-4, by the first media timeout at 14:05.
Sylvia Shephard (Alta Loma, Calif.) added a three for SU, but Morgan Van Riper-Rose matched it with a three-pointer of her own and Kailey Edwards added a jumper to keep the margin at seven, 16-9, at 11:51.
On a 10-5 run over the next five minutes, behind five straight points by Shephard and a layup by Brenda Adhiambo (Mombasa, Kenya), Seattle U had narrowed the margin to just two, 21-19, at the 7:42 mark.
With 4:59 remaining in the first half, the Redhawks took their first lead of the game, 24-23, on a layup by Shephard, but the Pioneers went on a 4-0 run to regain the lead, 27-24, at 3:24. On the run, Denver led by as many as eight, 32-24. Despite two straight baskets by Kacie Sowell (Ventura, Calif.), a three-pointer by Van Riper-Rose with 22 seconds remaining put the Pioneers ahead, 35-28, at halftime.
The Redhawks came out of the halftime break, going on a 6-2 run before the first media timeout, to cut the deficit to just three, 37-34, at 16:51. Sowell, Adhiambo, and Taelor Ross (Vancouver, Wash.) added layups during the run.
SU found themselves down again by five, 41-36, but layups by Daidra Brown (Seattle, Wash.) and Sowell and a pair of layups by Ward and Shephard gave them another lead, 48-47, with 12 minutes remaining.
The Redhawks led by as many as three, 50-47, but the Pioneers added three straight three’s to lead 56-52. Ward cut the deficit, 56-55, with a three at 9:09.
Neither team was able to make a run, with either team leading by just one point, or with the score tied, for two and a half minutes following the 5:42 mark.
Shephard hit a free throw to give SU the two point lead, 65-63, but Van Riper-Rose hit a layup at 2:09 to re-tie the score, 65-65. Brown added a layup at 1:25 to give the Redhawks the lead, 67-65, and Sowell added a pair of free throws to seal the SU win, 69-66.
Shephard led the Redhawks with 21 points and nine rebounds, shooting 8-for-13 from the field and 3-for-6 from behind the three-point line. Ward and Sowell also scored in double figures, with 15 and 10 points, respectively.
Van Riper-Rose led the Pioneers with 21 points, with Edwards and Emiko Smith also scoring in double figures.
Denver slightly led from the field (44.6 percent to 43.3 percent), from behind the three-point line (42.1 percent to 38.9 percent), and from the free-throw line (88.9 percent to 71.4 percent). Seattle U outrebounded the Pioneers, 35-34, recording 18 assists to Denver’s 16.
Seattle U returns home to host UT Arlington on Thursday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. and Louisiana Tech on Saturday, Jan. 19 at 7 p.m.