It’s early, but Washington State and Seattle University collected significant wins to give reason the schools may be headed toward positive seasons despite a rough start.
WSU defeated BYU 67-52 at home on Saturday. The Cougs held their visitors to 27.5 percent shooting and outrebounded them 54-40. BYU (3-3) was picked to win the West Coast Conference, edging eight-time champion Gonzaga (6-1) by one point in the preseason coaches’ poll.
Cougs freshman G Lia Galdeira led her team with 15 points while sophomore PG Tia Presley added 12 points with a career-high seven assists. WSU (2-3) plays two road games next week at UC Riverside (3-2) on Wednesday and Fresno State (2-1) on Friday.
At the Connolly Center, Seattle University was jumping for joy at center court after battling for a 74-70 win against Sacred Heart in its Thanksgiving Tournament. It’s the first time SU has won the title since coach Joan Bonvicini formed the holiday event in 2010.
SHU (3-3) led by 10 points with 6:50 remaining in the first half. SU used a 7-0 run midway through the second to give itself a chance. Junior G Sylvia Shephard scored eight of her 12 second-half points with five minutes remaining to help seal the win.
She also had two assists and a key defensive rebound to nullify Pioneers junior F Blair Koniszewski’s two late three-pointers that made the score 72-70 with 12 seconds remaining.
Shephard finished with 20 points, nine rebounds and five assists overall. She was named the tournament MVP, also totaling 21 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in Friday’s win against Portland.
“I feel special,” Shephard said of the honor. Teammate Kacie Sowell was named to the all-tournament team along with SHU teammates Gabrielle Washington and Morgan Merriman, who played at Lakeside HS. Boston College F Kristen Doherty and Portland F Cassandra Thompson rounded out the team.
The win is SU’s biggest since Bonvicini was hired in 2009 and transitioned the school back to Division I status. SHU won the Northeast Conference title in 2012, advancing to its third NCAA tournament appearance in school history. The Pioneers lost to Georgia Tech in the opening round.
In four previous games against repeat NCAA tournament teams, Seattle U has been blown out. It lost to current No. 1 Stanford 76-52 in February 2012, Gonzaga 91-64 in 2010, and Georgetown (68-54) and Purdue (69-39) in 2009.
Bonvicini deflected questions regarding the greater significance of Saturday’s win, however.
“This is our tournament and we wanted to win it,” she said. “All of the other stuff you can think back on it later.”
SU ends its four-game homestand against UC Irvine (1-5) on Saturday and Portland State (4-1) on Dec. 9.