SEATTLE – Seattle University women’s basketball forced overtime with UTRGV, but the Vaqueros pulled out a 74-70 decision Thursday night. Joana Alves led with 22 points and nine rebounds in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) game at the Redhawk Center.
“Joana (Alves) was terrific for us tonight,” said Coach Suzy Barcomb. “She executed what we had been working on all week and used her size to her advantage inside. We were in the game, but free throws were our Achilles’ heel tonight.”
Alves was the source of offensive punch in the opening period. The junior used her size advantage to score the first seven SU points of the night. Alves scored in the post three times and split a pair of free throws as the hosts took a 7-4 lead through four minutes of action.
UTRGV rallied, but Alves scored again and then found a cutting Olivia Crawford for a layup. Crawford followed with a steal to spark a fast break, where she found Kamira Sanders for a bucket and an 11-9 margin. After earning a stop, SU went inside again, as Alves scored to keep her side ahead. The visitors finished the quarter with a hoop, as Seattle U took a 13-11 edge into the second period.
The Vaqueros scored to start the second, but Genessa Bedoya grabbed an offensive rebound and scored. After a UTRGV basket, Carla Bieg found Courtney Murphy for a trey and an 18-16 lead at the 8:34 mark. With the game even at 19 later in the frame, Bieg sank a three-ball. Another Alves bucket kept the Redhawks moving forward, and then Madeline Dopplick came up with a steal and a driving score, giving SU a 26-25 edge with 2:48 to play in the half.
The Vaqueros answered with two baskets, but Alves connected on a hook shot in the closing moments and the visitors settled for a 29-28 difference after 20 minutes.
The teams continued to trade scores in the third, with neither side able to create separation. Murphy swished a triple to tie the contest at 31. A Dopplick putback gave the Redhawks a two-point lead at the 7:20 mark, but the Vaqueros scored six straight points to go back ahead. Two Alves baskets on the interior allowed SU to stay in touch, but the visitors held a 43-37 lead with 2:23 remaining.
The Redhawks put together a closing kick to gain the lead through three. Bedoya assisted on another Murphy three and then Murphy found Delaney McCann for a lay-in. An SU stop set up a final possession that saw Bedoya break down the defense and drive for a layup and a 44-43 edge with 10 minutes to go.
A pair of Alves foul shots extended the Redhawks’ lead early in the fourth. After a Vaquero hoop, Sanders scored inside. The visitors replied with a burst to claim a 55-49 lead at the 4:15 mark. Sanders stayed aggressive and scored on the break to stem the run. Eventually, a UTRGV three-point play made it 60-51 with 2:38 left.
Alves followed by splitting a double team for a lay-in and then Sanders pulled down a rebound and went coast-to-coast for a bucket. SU picked up another defensive stop and then Sanders drove through the defense and finished, making it 60-57 with 1:04 to play.
The visitors came up with a key bucket to regain some control in the final minute. Crawford and Leilani Peat each split two free throws as the Redhawks tried to stay close. The visitors missed two free throws on their trip, giving SU hope. Barcomb drew up a play in the timeout, setting up a Murphy three. Sanders moved to her right and dished back to an open Murphy, who calmly drained the top-of-the-key three-ball to even the game at 62 with 16 seconds left.
UTRGV was fouled on its possession, but it misfired on two free throws with three seconds to go and Sanders found the rebound to force overtime.
In the extra session, the visitors scored first and then added a pair of foul shots with 2:04 remaining. Murphy drilled a trey at the 1:45 mark to pull her side within one at 66-65. UTRGV scored on its ensuing trip and then the teams traded free throws. Trailing 70-67 in the last minute, Sanders found space and drove for a hoop with 12 seconds showing on the clock. UTRGV sank both of its free throws and then Sanders split a pair of foul shots to make it a two-point difference. The Vaqueros sealed the contest with two more free throws in the closing seconds.
Alves put up 22 points on 9-18 shooting to go with nine rebounds. Sanders tallied 16 points, six boards, and three assists. Murphy added 15 points on 5-7 three-point accuracy in 41 minutes of action.
SU hosts New Mexico State on Saturday. Tip-off for the WAC contest is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the Redhawk Center.