In the tale of two halves, Seattle University women's basketball (19-9) powered back from a 13-point deficit in the first half to defeat New Mexico State, 77-53, in the quarterfinals of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament. The Redhawks extended their current winning streak to eight games, their longest of the season.
"New Mexico State played a very good first half and it really showed that they had won a game," said head coach Joan Bonvicini. "They played with a lot of confidence. We changed defenses a little bit in the second half, but really decided to do more pounding inside to Kacie [Sowell]. Ashley Ward hit some key jumpers and had some good assists."
The Aggies (15-16) opened up the game with a 5-0 run before Kacie Sowell (Ventura, Calif.) put the Redhawks on the board with a layup at 18:28. New Mexico State would go on to jump out to a 13-point lead, 19-6, at the 10:37 mark of the first half. Camila Rosen and Danesia Williamson combined for 11 points on the run.
Seattle U would then go on a 14-2 run to trail by just one, 21-20. During the run, Ashley Ward (Irvine, Calif.) added a layup at 9:03 to cut the lead to 10 and a three-pointer at 7:49 to cut the deficit to single digits. Four different Redhawks would then contribute to bring the deficit to one.
The Redhawks took their first lead, 22-21, on a jumper by Sowell, but the Aggies would regain the lead, 31-23, at 1:06 on a 10-1 run. Stefanie Gilbreath scored eight of 10 points for NMSU on the run.
Ward made a jumper with 21 seconds remaining in the first half, but Williamson would add a pair of free throws to keep the New Mexico State advantage at eight, 33-25, at halftime.
SU went on an 8-0 run to open the second half, tying the game at 33, at the 18:00 mark. Brenda Adhiambo (Mombasa, Kenya) and Daidra Brown (Seattle, Wash.) added layups during the run.
The score tied for the next two and a half minutes, Sasha Weber hit a three-pointer to put the Aggies back in the lead, 36-33, at 15:36. Following a Maggie McCarthy (Burlingame, Calif.) layup, Weber would add a second straight three as the Redhawks trailed by four, 39-35.
Brown hit a jumper and Sowell added a pair of shots from the line to tie the game for the second time, 39-39, at 13:07.
The score would be tied again twice more in the next two minutes, for the final time at 43, before a Ward three-pointer at 10:46 put Seattle U in the lead for good. Sowell added a quick layup to put the Redhawks up by five, 48-43, before two scoreless minutes for either team.
Seattle U would take their first double digit lead, 54-43, with 6:25 remaining on a layup by Sowell and would lead by more than 20 for the majority of the final three minutes of the contest. Back-to-back layups by Ward and Shephard and a final three-pointer by Ward sealed the deal as SU topped NMSU, 77-53.
Ward led all players in scoring, tying her career high 24 points, and shooting 9-for-14 from the field. Sowell added 23 points and 11 rebounds for Seattle U, recording her 15th double-double of the season. Brown, also scoring in double figures, added 16 points.
Sowell also became the 12th player in Seattle U women's basketball program history to reach the 1000 career point mark, as she now has 1,008 career points.
Gilbreath led the Aggies with 23 points, also grabbing five rebounds. The Redhawks held all other NMSU players to less than 10 points.
The Redhawks outrebounded the Aggies, 39-35, and led in shooting from the field (51.7 percent to 29.8 percent) as well as from behind the three-point line (33.3 percent to 28.6 percent). The Aggies led from the line, shooting 84.6 percent to Seattle U's 63.6 percent.
Seattle U will face the winner of No. 4 UTSA/No. 5 Louisiana Tech on Friday, Mar. 15 at 2:30 p.m. in the semifinals of the WAC Tournament. Stay tuned to www.GoSeattleU.com, Seattle U Athletics on Facebook, @su_athletics on Twitter, and @su_wbb for all the latest updates throughout the tournament.