SEATTLE – In a night that came down to the wire, Seattle University men’s basketball rallied to defeat Kansas City 69-64 in an electric atmosphere at the Redhawk Center.
“What a great college basketball game,” said Head Coach Jim Hayford. “Right down to the last two minutes, every possession mattered.”
Terrell Brown led all scorers with 21 points and eight rebounds with junior guard Morgan Means adding 18 points of his own with eight rebounds and providing a needed offensive spark that helped the home side make a comeback. Mattia Da Campo proved to be a defensive juggernaut, chipping in eight of his own paired with 10 rebounds. Freshman Riley Grigsby and Myles Carter ended with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Seattle U (14-12, 2-9 WAC) countered a solid Kansas City interior defense through tenacity and aggressive drives in the paint. The Redhawks outrebounded the Roos 6-4 on the offensive end in the opening frame, while staying in the game through follow-ups from big men Da Campo and Carter. The duo combined for five points and 11 rebounds in the first half.
Forcing the visitors into perimeter shots early, SU kept Kansas City (10-17, 5-7 WAC) to 30 percent three-point shooting in the first, opening up quick transition offense for the Redhawks. Means and Brown found success early in penetration off the dribble and settling for the mid-range shot or the contested lay-up.
After overcoming the sticky Redhawk defense, the Roos utilized their size to drive under the basket and get to the free-throw line. The visitors went 9-10 from the stripe and opened up a 21-15 advantage with nine minutes remaining in the first frame.
With the opening half winding down, Means and Grigsby sparked a 9-2 run off of sharp-shooting to cut into the Kansas City lead. Brown and Carter finished off a determined Redhawk offense to keep the visitors with just a 36-30 advantage after the halftime whistle.
Means continued to dominate and be the engine powering the Seattle U attack in the second half. Following a 7-5 SU spurt to open the new half, Means would hit an open three and finish off an and-one to combine with a triple from Da Campo, retaking the lead for the home side 46-44. Means scored 10 of his 18 points in the second half.
Free-throw shooting became pivotal in both teams’ offenses as the game came down to the wire. The Redhawks shot 14-15 in the second half compared to the Roos 9-13, including 100 percent stripe shooting from Means and Brown to close the game.
“In these types of games you have to make your free throws and we were 14-15 at the line in the second half,” Hayford said. “That was really key.”
In what would become a back-and-forth final five minutes, a Seattle U turnover saw Kansas City call a timeout to draw up a play to take the take the lead with SU up 65-64 with 1:18 to play. However, the Redhawks’ tough defensive structure led by Da Campo ensured the ensuing Kansas City play come with no reward, with Means grabbing the rebound off a missed three-point attempt by Jordan Giles and getting hacked for his efforts and sending him to the charity stripe.
The visitors would get one more chance to tie the game following the Means free throws with 15 seconds on the clock. Yet another miss by Kansas City ended in a Brown rebound where he too would get fouled. Brown went 2-2 from the line, icing the game in a 69-64 Seattle U victory.
“Kansas City a good defensive team and I’m just really pleased that we could pull out a win,” Hayford said postgame.
The Redhawks look to keep the energy going Saturday, Feb. 23 against Chicago State. Tip-off is set at 1:00 pm at the Redhawk Center.