SEATTLE – Seattle University men’s basketball used a stellar second-half performance to open the Elgin Baylor Classic with an emphatic 82-63 win over visiting Denver University Friday afternoon in the Redhawk Center.
The Redhawks (4-2) hit 19-35 from the field in the second half, including 6-12 from three, to rebound from shooting just 35.7 percent in the opening frame. Morgan Means led the way, dropping 15 of his carer-high 26 points in the second half. The junior guard finished 8-13 with a career-high six three-pointers.
“This game was won with our most complete 20 minutes of basketball in the second half,” said Head Coach Jim Hayford, “We were solid defensively and tremendous at rebounding. Denver is going to have a good season. They’re dealing with injuries as we all are but they’re a very good team.”
Shaking off the Thanksgiving turkey in the early goings, neither team could get buckets to fall as the teams combined to go 21-61 in the first half.
After the Redhawks took an 8-7 lead five minutes into the game, Denver’s rebounding ability on offense was integral to keep them in the game. Two Abiola Akintolaa offensive rebounds led to a 4-0 streak for the Pioneers, giving them the 12-8 advantage.
Through quicker ball movement and improved shooting, Seattle U closed the gap and re-took a 14-12 lead with 12:23 remaining following back-to-back threes from Delante Jones and Means.
The Pioneers were able to hit their mid-range shots and finish their free throws over a four minute span and keep the Redhawk offense at bay, leading by four with 7:46 left in the first.
Seattle U would respond in efficient fashion. With Matej Kavas hitting a triple, Means and Brown going 4-4 from the stripe, and Riley Grigsby finishing off a layup, the Redhawks regained the advantage, 30-26.
After Denver’s Ronnie Harrell Jr. responded with a bucket, Means dribbled out the clock and drained a three to beat the buzzer, giving the Redhawks the 33-28 lead into halftime.
After Kavas nailed a three to start the half, Myles Carter scored back-to-back buckets in the paint for a 38-30 Redhawk lead.
From there, the game was dominated by Means. The junior guard hit back-to-back-to-back triples to open the game up for the Redhawks, giving the hosts an 18-point cushion with 12:05 to go. Means shot 61 percent from the field in the second half.
“One of the biggest thing I’m trying to fix this year is inconsistency,” said Means. “I really focused in from warm-ups on being the best I could be and giving my team what I could give them, whether it be points, rebounds, whatever I could.”
Seattle U never looked back. After going on a 25-7 run in an eight minute stretch with 10:55 on the clock, the Redhawks created a 57-35 lead, keeping the Pioneers to just two jumpers.
Denver could only narrow the lead to 17 after the Redhawks played tough man-to-man defense. Seattle U led by a game-high 24 with 5:40 left.
The game was capped off with an Aaron Nettles three with 1:49 to go to put an end to a 4-0 Denver spurt. Following an Anand Hundal layup in the closing seconds, the final buzzer went off handing the home team an 82-63 victory.
Seattle U marches on to game two of the Elgin Baylor Classic on Saturday against Fairfield. Tip-off is set for 3:00 pm at the Redhawk Center.