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December 11, 2011 at 12:30 PM

Game thread: Portland at Seattle University

REDHAWKS WIN: Had to open up postgame questioning with a little lighthearted query after SU defeated Portland 69-55 for the school’s first three-game win streak under third-year coach Joan Bonvicini. “So, do you even remember what it’s like to lose,” I asked Bonvicini, Rhea, Kerfoot, and Ward. They laughed. “I don’t think I’ve heard that question before,” the coach finally responded. Nope. Not from me, at least. The Redhawks (5-4) are using a nice blend of all facets of the game to stitch together wins. But a pair of major tests loom in West Coast Conference teams Santa Clara (Tuesday) and Saint Mary’s (Saturday) this week. Both schools defeated SU in December 2010, the latter getting a decisive 80-64 win. Santa Clara defeated Seattle U 63-60 in the first-ever meeting of the programs. As Rhea noted, SU can take plenty from Sunday’s win into the WCC games.The team shot 45 percent from the field, forced 28 turnovers for 23 points, outscored the Pilots 34-18 in the paint and didn’t experience much drop-off when reserves were placed in the game. But Sowell didn’t have her best night and that showed in SU getting outworked 40-38 on the boards. Sowell, who usually plays stronger and bigger than her 6-foot-2 frame, had a season-low three boards. She entered the game averaging a team-leading 8.1. Since the Redhawks played well defensively in other ways, the lack of rebound dominance didn’t hurt. For now, the players are revealing in the win — albeit not too much. “It’s nice to win but we just focus on the game we have in front of us and not, ‘Oh we’re winning,'” said Ward, who finished with a team-high 15 points. SU last had a three-game win streak in February 2009 as a D-II school. “It’s a one game at a time kind of thing.” Day led Portland (5-6) with 13 points while TecleMariam had nine rebounds.
MY BALL: SU is taking control of this game, opening the second half on a 9-0 run. Love how the Redhawks haven’t slacked at all despite the advantage, too. SU is now up 56-34 with 11:33 remaining in the game. Kerfoot (13) and Ward (11) lead. The Pilots are shooting 28.6 percent after the break and have one second-chance point in the second half.
HALFTIME: The Redhawks took a 36-25 lead into the break, finishing the half on a 12-3 run during the final 5:18. Scoring was pretty even as Rhea dished out five assists to various teammates. Shephard led with eight points and Ward added seven. Adhiambo had a game-high five boards, but SU was outrebounded 20-18 in the opening half. SU did help force 15 turnovers while only committing nine miscues themselves. UP struggled offensively (37 percent) and again couldn’t get many second-chance points (three). the Pilots were led by Brown’s six points.
STATS DOWN: Online stats are slow to update and the printer at Connolly froze, so I won’t have many numerical updates until halftime. UP is on a 8-0 run, getting some putbacks, and-one fouls and defensive stops to pull within 24-22 with 5:19 on the clock.
SKETCHY PLAY: SU had some bad communication on offense while Day has made some buckets inside to get UP in the game. But a nice stutter-step layin by Rhea and a three-pointer by Kerfoot has the Redhawks up 22-14 with 7:48 left in the opening half.
BIG SYL: Wright isn’t the only one on fire this afternoon. Shephard is 2-for-2 from the corner three-point pocket to help SU build an early 8-4 lead. The Redhawks are shooting 37.5 percent from the field overall. UP is struggling to control the ball, committing six turnovers. There’s 15:34 on the clock in the opening half.
I’m late so we’re going to jump right into it. Portland (5-5) is at Connolly Center for its second matchup in the city, this time against Seattle University (4-4). The Pilots lost 61-49 at Washington on Friday, shooting 26.7 percent from the field in the second half.
SU defeated UP 61-58 in 2010. The series is even at six games apiece.
The Redhawks, who are entering after a 89-80 road win at Boise State, have a chance to record the first three-game win streak of the season. SU needs to watch out for shooter Natalie Day while continuing to connect offensively themselves. Seattle U has averaged 78.8 points in its past four games, going 3-1 during that stretch.
Well, SU junior Johnathan Wright sang a great rendition of the national anthem so we’re ready for the tip. First, your starting lineups:
PILOTS
F Amy Pupa
F Natalie Day
C Cassandra Brown
G ReZina TecleMariam
G Alexis Byrd
REDHAWKS
F Sylvia Shephard
F Ashley Ward
C Kacie Sowell
G Elle Keerfoot
G Talisa Rhea
This afternoon’s officials are John Weeks, Bob Scofield, and Bethany Graves.

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