GAME #23: Seattle University hits the road this weekend, first heading to Orem, Utah, for Thursday’s game against WAC leader Utah Valley. The Redhawks and Wolverines played a tight game the first time around in January, and Thursday’s game should be just as close.
THE NEW MEXICO STATE GAME: Seattle University fell victim to a hot-shooting night by New Mexico State, as the Aggies held off the Redhawks, 92-77, Saturday night at KeyArena. A traditional three-point play by Isiah Umipig put the Redhawks on top three minutes into the game, 8-6, but New Mexico State would go on an 11-1 run, the final six points scored by Daniel Mullings, to take the lead, 17-9. Two three-pointers by Kevin Aronis would push the Aggie lead into double digits, and a layup by DK Eldridge would give New Mexico State its biggest lead of the first half at 32-19 with 8:14 to go before halftime. Seattle U would fight back over the next three minutes, outscoring New Mexico State 13-4, capped by a three-pointer from Clarence Trent, to close the Aggie lead to four at 36-32. New Mexico State went on a 9-2 scoring run to extend its lead back to 11 before a jumper by Umipig as time ran out made the halftime score 45-36 in the Aggies’ favor. Two free throws and a three-pointer by Umipig in the first 30 seconds of the second half pulled the Redhawks back to within four at 45-41, but New Mexico State would seemingly put the game out of reach thanks to a 14-2 scoring run over the next five minutes, led by Tshilidzi Nephawe with seven points during the run. The Redhawks made one final push, going on a 9-1 scoring run over a three-minute span to close their deficit to nine at 74-65 with seven minutes left in regulation, but the Aggies finally closed out the contest thanks to 10 unanswered points late in the game. Umipig shot 8-of-15 from the field, including three three-pointers, and made all five of his free throw attempts to lead Seattle U with 24 points.
SERIES HISTORY: Utah Valley holds a 4-3 series edge over Seattle U heading into Thursday’s game. The Wolverines have won three in a row over the Redhawks overall as well as two in a row over Seattle U at the UCCU Center.
SCOUTING UTAH VALLEY: The Wolverines come into Thursday’s game with a 14-8 overall record. Utah Valley’s 8-1 record at the top of the WAC standings is one-and-a-half games better than New Mexico State and Grand Canyon. The Wolverines are 9-1 at home, including 3-0 in conference play. Utah Valley is scoring 67.7 points per game and giving up 64.5 points per contest. As a team, the Wolverines are shooting 43.6 percent from the field, including 37.6 percent from behind the three-point line, and 75.6 percent from the free throw line, which is 14th-best in Division I. Holton Hunsaker leads the team with 13.1 points and 4.0 assists per game along with an .865 free throw percentage. Ben Aird is next in scoring at 11.5 points per game, plus he leads the team in rebounding with 7.6 rebounds per game. Mitch Bruneel is averaging 10.2 points per game, and Zach Nelson is contributing 10.0 points per contest. Hayes Garrity, the team’s sixth man, is averaging 9.8 points per game.
BIG MAN OUT FOR SEASON: Sophomore forward Deshaun Sunderhaus will miss the rest of the 2013-14 season with a torn ACL in his left knee, an injury suffered in the first half of the Jan. 25 game at Grand Canyon. He is expected to fully recover from the injury in time for the 2014-15 season.
WAC BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT: All-session tickets for the WAC Basketball Tournament March 12-15 at the Orleans Arena are now available at (206) 398-GOSU. Join the Seattle U men’s and women’s basketball teams as they play for the WAC Tournament title and the league’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. The women’s quarterfinals take place Wednesday, March 12, with the men’s quarterfinals scheduled for Thursday, March 13. The semifinals in both brackets are set for Friday, March 14. The women’s title game is scheduled for Saturday, March 15, at 1 p.m., followed by the men’s championship contest at 7 p.m., with both games broadcast by ESPNU.