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December 13, 2011 at 6:55 PM

Game thread: Santa Clara at Seattle University

REDHAWKS WIN: This game felt like surprise surgery. Rhea, Sowell, and Adiambo helped their team slice and dice SCU from the inside to post a 80-62 win on Tuesday. It’s SU’s fourth consecutive victory and SCU’s third consecutive loss. Mountain kept her team in the locker room for an extended period post game, mainly talking about how it only seemed like Shoji came to play. The coach said Zurauskyte has been ill the past two days, “But we’re certainly not going to use that as an excuse,” she said. Despite Zurauskyte’s size and being the team’s second-leading scorer (16 points), the Redhawks tore up the paint to outrebound their visitors 40-30 and outscore them 48-20 inside. Adhiambo finished with 12 points and nine rebounds and Sowell added 11 with six boards. Rhea led her team with 19 points and seven assists. “It was a really physical game,” said Sowell, whose team held Zurauskyte to zero points and three rebounds in 11 minutes. “The most important thing was sticking together, keeping our heads in the game and not getting frustrated.” Bonvicini gave everyone — from the staff to the players — Wednesday off. They’ll have a holiday party at the coach’s home on Thursday after practice and attempt to continue the winning ways on Saturday against St. Mary’s (6-4). It’ll be the fifth time SU faces a WCC opponent, holding a 3-1 record so far against the conference. “We’re excited to play teams similar to us,” Bonvicini said. “They’re another Jesuit school and my thing is to just keep getting better…We’re taking the day off and I think it’s a well-deserved rest. My staff is excited, they were like dancing out there.”
WARM APPLAUSE: Looks like Bonvicini is calling it, pulling Rhea out with less than two minutes remaining in the game. SU is up 80-60. Mountain has also pulled Shoji, who received a warm applause, too. The native Washingtonian led all scorers with 22 points.
SOWELL OUT: Playing a better game than in the win against Portland on Sunday, Sowell fouled out with 11 points and six boards. SU is up 76-60 with 3:05 remaining.
T’D UP: The second half hasn’t started any better for the Broncos. They’ve slowed the Redhawks slightly offensively, but it hasn’t stopped the scoring nor has it created more opportunities for themselves. And Mountain was called for a technical foul with 17:36 left in the game for yelling, “Same call down there!” It was a foul she didn’t get but SU did. In a discussion with Stevens about the tech later, she waved him off and said, “Terrible call.” He could have ejected her, but just yelled back, “Careful.” SU is up 50-36 with 15:59 remaining. And Mountain is still arguing her point whenever Stevens is near.
RED JETS: Bonvicini has found a hot rotation, bringing Brown and senior Amani Butler off the bench. In the team’s past three games and again tonight, the guards have bolted off the bench to alter SU’s looks by getting steals or tipping passes and trying to convert them into transition buckets. Seattle U has eight steals overall, outscoring SCU 8-0 on fast break opportunities. The Broncos are shooting 35.7 percent from the field and although they have size — Zurauskyte is 6-foot-4 — SCU isn’t quick and seems flustered by SU’s zone. Shoji leads her team with 14 points, going 2-for-6 from three-point range. SU is still shooting a hot 51.5 percent, getting balanced scoring from Sowell (nine), Rhea (eight) and Kerfoot (seven). SU needs work on its three-point shooting (3-for-10) and rebounding. But that’s nitpicking an impressive opening half where the Redhawks were the aggressors and didn’t let up in taking a 42-31 lead into the break.
THE NUMBERS: The Redhawks are shooting 57.1 percent from the field and haven’t allowed any points off their three turnovers. They are getting beat on the boards 13-10, which coach Joan Bonvicini isn’t going to like. But if the team retains this energy and wins, my guess is she’ll forget about that. Nah. I’ve been covering Bonvicini since the 90s and know better than that. SU leads 28-17 with 5:37 left in the opening half.
BLOCK THAT: SU had had a couple a sweet plays. The last was a complete stuff by Sowell with 9:06 left in the half. Another was a reverse layin by reserve Daidra Brown and the final were smooth passes by Kerfoot to Rhea (for three) and post Brenda Adhiambo (for a layin). The teamwork and defense has Seattle U up 26-26 with 7:30 on the clock.
QUICK WORK: Redhawks remain en fuego. The zone defense is forcing turnovers and they’re hitting buckets inside to take an early 8-0 lead with 17:43 remaining in the first half.
It’s a big game for both sides at Connolly Center. Seattle University (5-4) is trying to extend its first three-game win streak since transitioning back to a Division I program. Visiting Santa Clara (6-3) started the season at 6-1 and wants to get back to its winning ways after back-to-back losses to UC Irvine (88-82) and Cal (75-58).
The hot Tuesday night matchup is also a homecoming or sorts. Broncos senior Alyssa Shoji led Issaquah High to four consecutive KingCo titles. She currently ranks third in the nation in three-pointers per game (3.9). Sophomore Shelby Swofford played at Bellarmine Prep while coach Jennifer Mountain was a star at Gonzaga. And assistant coach Stacy Clinesmith (Mead High) is from Spokane. Drafted by the defunct Sacramento Monarchs, she was in a Storm training camp, but never appeared in a game for the team.
Here’s some footage about Shoji wrapping up her college career.

And with that, let’s get going with your starting lineups:
F Ashley Armstrong
F Meagan Fulps
C Ruta Zurauskyte
G Alyssa Shoji
G Ricki Radanovich
F Sylvia Shephard
F Ashley Ward
C Kacie Sowell
G Elle Kerfoot
G Talisa Rhea
Tonight’s officials are Clarke Stevens , Penny Davis, and Julie Krommenhoek



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