SEATTLE - (Mar. 8) For the fifth straight year, Seattle University men’s basketball heads to Las Vegas, Nev., for the 2017 Western Athletic Conference Basketball Tournament. The Orleans Arena once again hosts this year’s tournament, which begins with three men’s first round games Thursday, Mar. 9. The Redhawks (13-16, 5-9 WAC) earn the fifth seed and will face fourth-seed Utah Valley (14-15, 6-8 WAC) at 2:00 p.m. on the WAC Digital Network. The winner will face top-seed CSU Bakersfield on Friday, Mar. 10 at 6:00 p.m. on ESPN3. The tournament’s championship game is set for Saturday, Mar. 11 at 8:00 p.m. on ESPNU.
WAC TOURNAMENT HISTORY
Seattle U brings a 3-4 record from four previous WAC Tournament appearances into this year’s event. One year ago, the Redhawks topped UTRGV in the quarterfinals, 75-52, advancing to face eventual tournament champ CSU Bakersfield in the semifinals. The ‘Runners sent SU to a 72-47 setback.
In 2013, the Redhawks lost to Texas State, 68-56, in the first round, as Seattle U was the 10th seed. Entering the 2014 tournament as the seventh seed, the Redhawks battled second-seeded New Mexico State throughout the contest, holding a six-point lead halfway through the second half. After New Mexico State rallied back, Seattle U had a chance to send the game into overtime, but a last-second putback would not fall, giving the Aggies a 70-68 victory. Last year, Seattle U entered play as the third seed, but needed to rally from an eight-point deficit with five minutes remaining in regulation to defeat Chicago State, 49-45. The next night, Isiah Umipig tied a WAC Tournament record with eight made three-pointers to lead the Redhawks over UMKC, 69-63. In the championship game, New Mexico State scored the first nine points of the game on its way to an 80-61 victory over the Redhawks.
Matej Kavas was named WAC Freshman of the Year honors after scoring in double figures in nine of 14 WAC games with a season-high 24 points. In conference games only, he ranked fifth in the WAC in three-point field goal percentage (41.3), sixth in three-pointers per game (1.86), 10th in blocked shots (0.57) and 16th in scoring (11.6). The redshirt freshman also earned a spot on the All-Newcomer Team.
Seattle U dropped its regular-season finale, 61-54, at Utah Valley on Saturday, Mar. 4. The Redhawks shot just 37.5 percent from the field as the only double-digit scorer was freshman Morgan Means with 16 points. They also managed just seven trips to the charity stripe (going 4-for-7) while the Wolverines were 14-for-17 from the line, all in the second half. The weekend outcome stayed in trend for the Redhawks who are now 9-1 when scoring 80 points or more and 0-9 when scoring less than 60.
ABOUT THE SERIES VS UTAH VALLEY
Seattle U and Utah Valley are meeting for the 15th time, with the Redhawks holding a slight 8-6 series edge. In this season’s first match-up on Homecoming at KeyArena, the Redhawks rode a 32-18 halftime lead on their way to a 63-50 victory. The Seattle U defense held UVU to just five first-half field goals (16.7%) while shooting a solid 50% themselves. Matej Kavas came off the bench to score a game-high 18 points while William Powell and Brendan Westendorf chipped in 13 and 11, respectively. The Wolverines won the rematch on Mar. 4 in Orem, Utah, earning a 61-54 win on their Senior Night. The UVU victory snapped a four-game win streak for the Redhawks in the series.
The teams played a pair of close games in 2015-16, with the Redhawks winning 73-62 in Orem and 72-69 at KeyArena. The latter victory came on Brendan Westendorf’s second buzzer-beater of the season, this one snapping a 69-69 tie and propelling SU to victory on Senior Night. The teams first met during the 2009-10 season, with Seattle U winning both meetings: 66-63 at KeyArena and 74-64 at the UCCU Center. In 2010-11, Utah Valley earned its first victory of the series in Orem, 89-73, before Seattle U took the rematch in Seattle, 63-57. Utah Valley swept the season series in 2011-12 with two victories in the span of a week: 77-72 in Orem and 84-74 in Seattle. After a one-year break, the two teams started their conference rivalry in 2013-14, with Utah Valley winning the first meeting in Orem, 52-51, and Seattle U winning the rematch at KeyArena, 71-57. In 2014-15, the Wolverines won the first meeting at the UCCU Center, 70-52. In the rematch at KeyArena, Seattle U stifled the Wolverine offense in a 53-33 victory.
WAC TOURNEY TICKETS ON SALE
Tickets for the 2017 WAC Men's and Women's Basketball Tournament are on sale now. The tournament begins Wednesday, March 8 with the women's first round of play, followed by a full day of men's action on Thursday, March 9. The championship games will be contested on Saturday, March 11. Currently available for purchase are $125 all-session passes, which consist of entry into 12 games over six sessions. Single-session tickets will not be available for purchase until March 8 and can only be purchased through the Orleans Arena Box Office. To purchase your all-session pass today, contact the Seattle U Athletics Ticket office at 206-398-GOSU (4678) or purchase online at GoSeattleU.com/SUtickets.