SEATTLE – A dominating second-half performance that included a combined 27 points from Matej Kavas and Delante Jones sparked Seattle University men’s basketball to tally its sixth straight win, 90-71, over visiting Omaha Thursday night at the Redhawk Center.
After holding a slim 39-35 advantage at the half – courtesy a pair of clutch threes from Jones – Seattle U outscored the Mavericks 51-36 in the second half, capping a 10-game homestand with a 9-1 record. The Redhawks are now 9-2 on the season, matching the best start in the program's Division I history since the 1968-69 season.
I'm really pleased with how we played tonight," said Head Coach Jim Hayford. "Omaha is a very, very good team and the score was not indicative of how close these two teams were. I'm really proud of our guys for a solid win over a good team."
Four Redhawks scored in double figures with Kavas and Jones leading the way with 26 apiece. Terrell Brown added 12 points and 11 rebounds while freshman Riley Grigsby chipped in with a career-high11 points off 5-6 shooting. Kavas shot 66 percent from the perimeter.
The Redhawks weathered tough man-to-man defense from the visitors, making it difficult for SU to penetrate off the dribble. Jones and Kavas avoided the trap by hitting two triples in back-to-back possessions to give some offensive breathing room in the opening minutes, earning an 8-2 lead in the opening two minutes.
Omaha (3-6) quickly regrouped and found success in the paint. Post-play from Matt Pile proved to be pivotal for the Mavericks as Omaha went on a 4-0 run to cut the Redhawk lead to 8-7 with 16:00 left on the clock.
Seattle U took the game into their hands from there. Kavas hit two triples in 30 seconds to combine with a Jones trey on the ensuing possession, giving the Redhawks a 19-9 advantage with 13 minutes to go.
With the game opened up, Brown was able to use his usual explosiveness to penetrate through the center. Seattle U used the pick and roll to fruition with Brown and Grigsby, connecting on multiple occasions to keep the Redhawks in the lead.
After a back-and forth final 10 minutes, SU closed out the half with an incredible effort from Jones who hit two threes in thirty seconds, one to beat the buzzer, to take a 39-35 lead into the halftime break.
“Both Matej and Delante had big-time games,” said Hayford. “They both had 26 and showed they can score in a variety of ways.”
In the opening few minutes of the second half, Redhawks pulled away from the visitors behind lights-out shooting and gritty play in the paint. Two triples from Kavas and Morgan Means on top of a Brown jumper opened up a seven point gap in the first four minutes of the second frame.
The play under the hoop was a shining point for Seattle U. Shifty dribbling paired with clever passing from sophomore Aaron Nettles to combine with Grigsby halted a 5-1 run for the Mavericks with 12:00 to play.
The gap would be opened further as SU went on an 8-0 run, six of which coming from the free-throw line, under the ten minute mark. A mid-range jumper from Jones following the next Mavericks possession gave the Redhawks a 67-55 lead.
With three minutes to go, Kavas lit up the Redhawk Center by connecting on a step-back three to go with two made free throws on the following Seattle U possession. Kavas scored 17 of his 26 points in the second half.
After a posterizing dunk by Grigsby from a Jones outlet, Kavas finished a layup to round off the game with a 90-71 Redhawk win, their sixth straight.
“We ran away from them and extended it even more in the second half,” said Hayford, “I’m really proud of the guys. It’s a solid win over a good team.”
Seattle U returns to action on Sunday, Dec. 9 against crosstown rival Washington. Tip-off is set for 6:00 p.m. at the Alaska Airlines Arena.