PHOENIX (Feb. 16) – Seattle University women’s basketball fell, 82-77, at Grand Canyon Thursday night. Kaylee Best scored her 1,000th career point in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) contest at the GCU Arena.
"We can't turn the ball over 26 times," said Coach Suzy Barcomb. "We made a nice run at the end, but we'll try to pick up the pieces and try to get a tough one on Saturday."
Down 72-58 with 4:22 left, Seattle U (11-14, 8-2 WAC) went to a full-court press, rattling GCU (12-10, 5-5 WAC) and igniting a 15-0 Redhawk rally. Wilma Afunugo scored on a putback while being fouled and made the ensuing free throw at the 3:59 mark. SU forced a turnover and Claire Metoyer found Best for a three-pointer to get the Redhawks within eight points. Marina Laramie was called for an offensive foul as the Lopes tried to break the Seattle U. Laramie fouled out and gave the visitors another possession, where Metoyer drilled a corner trey to move SU within five at the 3:26 mark.
The pressure harassed GCU into another turnover and on the ensuing trip, Afunugo split two free throws. Kamira Sanders knocked the ball away as the hosts crossed half court and Metoyer set up a Best trey. It marked her career-high seventh three of the night and made it 72-71 with 3:08 remaining. The Redhawks earned a defensive stop and Montgomery came back on the other end and hit a go-ahead jumper in the lane with 1:42 left.
Grand Canyon replied with two made foul shots to regain the lead. Afunugo pulled down an offensive board on the other end and was fouled. She missed the first, but sank the second try, tying the score at 74 with 1:11 showing on the clock. Brie Mobley scored for the home side, and after an empty SU trip, the Lopes converted all six of their free throws to close out the contest.
Best led with 24 points and 5 assists. She set a Seattle U Division I record with seven threes in 39 minutes. Alexis Montgomery logged her seventh double-double of the season with 20 points and 11 boards. Lewey added 12 points and four rebounds off the bench. Afunugo registered nine points and seven boards. The Redhawks hit a season-high 13 treys, connecting on 50 percent of their tries from downtown. They also outrebounded GCU, 33-27, including 18-8 on the offensive glass.
Needing 14 points for 1,000, Best looked to take care of the task quickly. She and Montgomery teamed up to lift SU to a terrific offensive start. Best sank a three on the Redhawks’ first trip and then she assisted on a layup by Afunugo. After a Grand Canyon hoop, Best drained another three for an 8-4 lead. The hosts scored again, but Montgomery answered with a trey at the 7:31 mark.
Best’s third triple of the period came with 5:28 left and gave Seattle U a 14-8 margin. Just over a minute later, Best set up a Montgomery three. GCU got within a point, but Best sank her fourth deep ball of the frame at the 1:10 mark, putting SU ahead, 20-16. Ashlyn Lewey converted two free throws in the final minute, but a late Lope bucket made it a 22-20 SU edge after a quarter. The Redhawks shot 8-11 from the field, making six treys in the period.
In the second frame, the home side scored the first six points to take the lead. Montgomery hit a jumper to get Seattle U on the board, but Grand Canyon grabbed a 30-24 advantage. Montgomery continued her stellar shooting, swishing a three with 6:35 showing on the clock. After a GCU three, Best got the ball on the left wing. She dribbled by her defender and finished through contact in the paint, notching her 1,000th career point. Best connected on the ensuing foul shot to pull SU within 33-30 with 5:47 remaining in the half.
On SU’s next possession, Best tallied a fifth three-pointer, giving her 18 points and tying the contest at 33. Lewey made a layup later in the frame, but the hosts controlled the closing portion and entered halftime with a 44-35 lead.
Best became the 16th player in program history to score 1,000 points.
In the third period, the teams went back and forth, with neither side able to separate for much of the period. Sanders scored in the lane and Ashlyn Lewey hit a trey, but the Lopes answered each time. Metoyer hit a jumper and then Montgomery scored, making it 49-44 with 5:47 to play in the third. Metoyer assisted on a Lewey bucket to cut the deficit. After two GCU free throws, Shaylin Heredia drove and scored while being fouled. Eventually, the Lopes went up, 61-51, but Sanders scored to beat the buzzer and get SU within eight going into the fourth.
A pair of Montgomery jump shots got Seattle U within 61-57 in the first minute of the fourth. She then split two foul shots at the 7:09 mark, making it 63-58. GCU followed with nine straight points, taking a 72-58 lead and appearing to seal the decision. SU made the Lopes work to earn it late, however.
The Redhawks play their final regular season road game, at CSU Bakersfield on Saturday, Feb. 18. Tip-off is slated for 1 p.m.