Isiah Umipig’s big night leads to big road upset of Utah Valley

14 Feb

It’s always going to be a difficult proposition to win on the road in conference play, especially against the league leaders. But it helps if your best player goes absolutely bonkers.

Isiah Umipig scored 27 of his 32 points in the second half, grabbing 7 rebounds and shooting 7-11 from three-point range, as Seattle University stunned WAC leaders Utah Valley with a 71-57 victory.

After the Redhawks led 29-24 at halftime, Utah Valley scored the first 5 points of the second half to tie things up. Umipig then knocked in 10 points in 2 minutes, part of a 12-2 burst that gave Seattle a lead it would not relinquish.

The Wolverines had one more run in them. A three-point-play from leading scorer Ben Aird with 4 minutes to go cut the Redhawk lead to 60-56, and brought back memories of Seattle’s collapse against UVU in KeyArena last month.

But then Umipig took over once again. On consecutive possessions, he hit a jumper, found William Powell in the paint for an easy bucket, and then simply dribbled the clock down before hitting a merciless, cold-blooded three-pointer from 27 feet out. The Wolverines could not respond.

Zeke finished with 32 points. The other 4 Redhawks starters combined for 13. Especially in the second half, it was largely a one-man show.

Powell deserves some credit for stepping off the bench and helping replace Seattle’s players in foul trouble – three of whom would foul out. Shore Adenekan played solidly as well, nearly collecting a double-double from the bench himself (9 points and 8 boards).

But this was Isiah’s night. He carried the team to the biggest win of the season. He’s the leading scorer in the Western Athletic Conference. He’s getting better. And he’s just a junior. Enjoy him while he’s here.

Key moment: That three. It was simply a dagger. It was shot with the utter confidence of someone who knows – not just thinks, or believes, but KNOWS – that everything he puts up is going down.

Key player: Need you ask? But credit also has to go to the entire first-half defensive effort. Seattle has clearly figured out how to keep Utah Valley from getting easy looks, holding them to 52 and 57 points in two outings and forcing them to unsuccessfully bomb lots of long-range shots. It would not be the worst thing in the world to meet UVU in the WAC conference tournament – preferably in the finals.

Redhawks rough up Broncs for second straight win

7 Feb

Shore Adenekan’s double-double powered the Redhawks to the second double-digit thumping of Texas Pan-American this season.

Adenekan dropped 14 points and 11 rebounds, Isiah Umipig added a game-high 21 points and Seattle University never trailed in a blowout 83-62 victory over UTPA.

The win is the first at home for the Redhawks since December 15, and marks the first-ever back-to-back victories in WAC play after Saturday’s road win at Idaho. It also puts the Redhawks above .500 with an 11-10 record.

Seattle forced a turnover and two missed shots on UTPA’s first three possessions. Emerson Murray, Clarence Trent and Jarell Flora followed with three straight three-point baskets, giving the Redhawks a 9-2 lead just 3 minutes into the game, and the rout was on.

D’Vonne Pickett, Jr. continued his recent streak of solid play with 15 points to go with 4 assists off the bench, and Flora added 11 points.

The win moves the Redhawks to 3-5 in conference play. Although it’s too late to make a run at the WAC regular-season title – Utah Valley is running away with the conference, somehow – positioning for the best seed in the WAC tournament is still important. And a winning record from here on out gives Seattle a very good chance at being invited to a postseason tournament like the CIT for the first time this century.

Key Moment: The series of threes, followed by Adenekan’s dunk in the opening minutes to make the game 11-2. That jam fired up the crowd and gave Seattle a momentum-boost that didn’t really go away.

Key Player: Adenekan. Almost always a force on defense, if he can impact games in this manner with a little more consistency on both ends of the floor, look out.

Vandalized! Chibuogwu and Pickett lead stunning comeback victory over Idaho

3 Feb

It was well past time for the Seattle Redhawks to collect another nail-biting victory of their own, after being on the receiving end of so many recent painful losses. And it took possibly the least likely hero on the roster to deliver it.

Emmanuel Chibuogwu – who had scored all of 12 points this season – delivered 10 very key points off the bench, including the game-winning jumper in traffic with 6 seconds left, and Seattle held on for a wild, improbable come-from-behind 68-67 victory at WAC rivals Idaho.

Chibuogwu’s basket came as the cherry on top of a wild second-half comeback sundae. After trailing 40-28 at halftime and later by 16 points, Seattle went on a 23-2 run.

They would give that lead back though, and trailed by 4 with 14 seconds to play after Idaho’s Stephen Madison knocked down a shot. Seattle rushed the ball upcourt and found Chibuogwu in the corner, who drained his second three of the night. The Redhawks forced a 5-second violation on the ensuing inbounds play to get the ball back, then D’Vonne Pickett, Jr. lobbed his inbounds pass to Chibuogwu, who pogoed into the air to collect the ball, leaped back up and scored – while being fouled.

Chibuogwu missed the and-1 free throw, so Idaho had time to attempt a final game-winning shot but couldn’t get one off. Pickett stole the ball and hurled it high into the air as time expired.

With Deshaun Sunderhaus out, and Jack Crook and Shore Adenekan limited with foul trouble, Idaho’s star forward Madison was able to post big numbers all game long. Madison racked up a game-high 27 points.

But he couldn’t match the clutch play of Pickett, Chibuogwu and the entire Redhawks defense. Seattle clamped down and held the Vandals to 18 points in the last 14 minutes.

Jarell Flora had a resurgent night, putting in a team-high 16 points, and did well to not just settle for the contested three-point shot. Isiah Umipig, undergoing a minor slump in the last few games, might take a lesson from that – he was just 5-18 from the field and 2-11 from three-point range.

For the most part, though, the Redhawks did a much better job of attacking the basket. And they came up clutch on defense when it mattered. It’s a formula that could – if followed  – lead to more WAC wins.

Key Player – D’Vonne Pickett, Jr. The senior guard turned in his best half of basketball all season in the second period. Pickett racked up 15 points and 5 assists with just 1 turnover off the bench. He also was instrumental in breaking down the Idaho defense with hard-nosed drives into the paint, then making the correct decision whether to kick the ball out or to try and score himself.

Key Moment – The 5-second violation. Idaho called their final timeout immediately after Chibuogwu’s three, cutting the lead to 1. This meant they HAD to inbound the ball, but thanks to defensive pressure from the whole team, they couldn’t. Without that defensive stand, Idaho would likely have been shooting free-throws. It was, in many ways, similar to the heartbreaking finish against Utah Valley in KeyArena – except this time, the good guys forced the mistake and earned a vital victory.

Sunderhaus hurt as Redhawks go down in the desert

28 Jan

Life is tough for Seattle U whenever Isiah Umipig has an off-night, and it’s only going to get tougher.

Deshaun Sunderhaus, the second-leading scorer and top post player for the #redhawks, went down with a serious-looking knee injury late in the first half, which somewhat overshadowed the result. Seattle fell to Grand Canyon 71-63.

No Redhawk scored in double figures or made more than three shots from the floor. Scoring guards Emerson Murray and Umipig both had extremely rough shooting nights and nobody else could pick up the slack.

The loss was the latest in a long skid that has seen Seattle drop to last in the WAC after losing 7 of 8.

Recap: Redhawks turn over ball, game to Utah Valley in final seconds

20 Jan

Cameron Dollar walked off the KeyArena floor into the locker room with his head up, not saying a word, eyes staring straight ahead blankly, as if unable to comprehend what he had just witnessed.

Everyone in the arena probably felt the same way after the Redhawks lost 52-51 to Utah Valley University in utterly inexplicable fashion on Sunday afternoon.

Deshaun Sunderhaus tipped in a missed shot to give Seattle a 51-50 lead with 18 seconds remaining, and after the Redhawks forced UVU into a missed jumper with 7 seconds left that bounced off a Wolverine and out of bounds, it looked like Seattle had salted away the victory.

But on the ensuing inbounds pass, the Redhawks immediately turned the ball over and Isiah Umipig fouled UVU’s Mitch Bruneel while scrambling to recover the ball. Bruneel knocked down both free throws, Seattle couldn’t get off a desperation shot in the final two seconds, and that was that.

Any number of things could have prevented that victory from being thrown away. Not fouling, for one – Utah Valley could only have flung up a desperation shot after stealing the inbounds pass. Not inbounding the ball into the tightly contested near corner would have been another. And they didn’t even have to pass the ball in at all! Seattle still had a timeout remaining they could have used, so Dollar could have drawn up an inbounds play, so his team could have not turned the ball over. But they didn’t, and he didn’t, and they did.

The final-play fiasco overshadowed a very solid all-around game for Sunderhaus. The forward led Seattle with 12 points and 7 rebounds, and provided tough interior defense that led to UVU jacking up long-range shots all afternoon. In fact, the entire team’s overall defensive effort was impressive.

But that wasn’t enough. Winning teams have to have everyone executing, both coach and players, both mentally and physically, when the game is on the line. Sunday afternoon, the Redhawks failed to accomplish this, and they have their most difficult loss of the season to swallow as a result.

Key play: The final one.

Key player: Sunderhaus. Jarell Flora gets a nod, too, for coming out focused on offense and contributing 11 points off the bench after being mired in a bit of a slump.

Aside

Redhawks start on fire, flame out and fall to Bakersfield

19 Jan

The Redhawks came out strong Thursday night against CSU-Bakersfield, opening on a 9-2 run in the first 4 minutes. Isiah Umipig could do no wrong and the Roadrunners couldn’t score and Seattle University seemed to be back on track.

In the next 36, everything fell apart.

A last-ditch comeback attempt fell short, and the Redhawks fell to Bakersfield 61-57. The loss drops Seattle to 9-8, 1-3 in the WAC, and leaves head coach Cameron Dollar with quite a few questions about how his one-promising season is spiraling away.

It’s a confidence-sapper, for sure. And confidence is a difficult thing to improve upon yourself. Building it almost always takes outside influence or action.

Jarell Flora, in particular, could use some confidence from outside. The guard is 11 for 50 from the field (22%) in his last seven games, and is just 4 for 33 (12%) from three-point range. He’s been dropped from the starting lineup for the last three games – something which can’t help his mindset one bit. And the rest of the Redhawks seem to be suffering similarly.

Despite most of their players either being on cold streaks or just being cold shooters normally, the Redhawks launched 25 three-pointers last night, making eight. That’s not a great percentage, but not terrible. More than half of their shots were threes. That’s not good at all. Bakersfield was not forced to work on defense until the very end of the game.

Key moment: It’s more a key stretch of time. From the 13:33 mark until 1:08 was left in the first half, Seattle U scored just 4 points. All of those were free throws. Not a single field goal was made over a more than twelve minute stretch of time. When you go that cold, it’s a miracle if you have a chance to win at all.

Key player: Isiah Umipig put the team on his back for most of the game. He had 10 points within 7 minutes and finished with 21.

Foss 3-star guard Armond Davis joins Seattle University class of 2014

15 Jan

Armond Davis, a 3-star guard/forward from Tacoma, has committed to join what is rapidly becoming the best Seattle University men’s basketball recruiting class in more than 30 years.

Davis joins Jadon Cohee, a top guard out of the Vancouver, B.C. area, in the Redhawks’ class of 2014. Throw in Hawaii transfer Manroop Clair, who will have three years of eligibility starting next year, and head coach Cameron Dollar is poised to receive a huge infusion of talent into his program.

Seattle U’s newest player is one of the top 10 in Washington in his class, a notch below recruits like Shaqquan Aaron ( committed to Louisville) and Josh Martin (Minnesota). But that’s not important. What is is that he’s explosive, has the frame to guard multiple positions, and actually seems a perfect fit as the small forward/third guard in Cameron Dollar’s system. Davis could easily develop into a Clarence Trent type of player – or better.

Davis is exactly the type of player the Redhawks should be targeting – high-upside, in-state players at that second level of talent. There’s no need to worry about competing with UW or Gonzaga for the elite of the elite yet. Washington produces plenty of very good basketball players. Davis is definitely one of them.

Offered scholarships from Pepperdine, Montana State and Northern Colorado, and with interest from other Mountain West and WCC schools, Armond Davis chose Seattle. This is a very, very good thing. Next season could – and should – feature the most talented Redhawks squad yet.

Sunderhaus carries Redhawks to first road win

15 Jan

Just as in the previous season, it took a trip deep into the heart of Texas for Seattle U to score their first conference win.

The Redhawks thumped UT-Pan American 64-46, leading nearly the entire game and snapping a 4-game losing streak that extended back before Christmas.

All that is in the past after a dominant performance. And nobody was more dominant than Deshaun Sunderhaus. The forward turned in another double-double with 22 points and 13 boards to lead the Redhawks.

Seattle started out hot and didn’t stop, scoring the first 11 points of the game. It took nearly six minutes for UTPA to get on the board, and the Broncs would never seriously threaten to mount a comeback.

The Redhawks now return home for a set against CSU-Bakersfield and Utah Valley. Win both, and they can be back on track in the WAC.

Redhawks humbled by hot-shooting ‘Roos in WAC opener

8 Jan

This was not a good loss for the Redhawks.

It’s never good to drop a game in the standings. It’s even worse to do it at home.

But the worst possible way to do it is by falling way behind early, sucking the life out of your own crowd, never seriously appearing that you could win or, for much of the game, compete. And that’s exactly what Seattle University did in a 95-84 loss to the University of Missouri – Kansas City, one of the weakest teams in the WAC.

UMKC used some hot shooting and lax defense to run out to an early 27-17 lead just 8 minutes into the game. Their lead would swell to 20, and a late Redhawks rally could cut the deficit no closer than 6 points before the ‘Roos put the game away.

Isiah Umipig led Seattle with 24 points and Emerson Murray chipped in with 20 of his own off the bench in another solid outing.

There will need to be better perimeter defense and better inside scoring for the Redhawks to compete for a postseason berth and a chance at finishing high in this new-look WAC. They’ve been shown to be lacking both in the last two home contests.

And more inspired coaching will be necessary. After UMKC started the game by drilling open three after open three, consistently getting the same kinds of open shots in transition and burying them, Cameron Dollar stood on the sidelines, arms folded, mouth shut, impassive. With every made shot the UMKC bench celebrated. You could just see the confidence draining out of the Redhawks and blossoming in the ‘Roos’ players’ eyes.

Things will have to change. Here’s hoping they will on the upcoming WAC road trip, or Seattle could be staring at an 0-3 start.

Key Moment: The aforementioned 27-17 start.

Key Player: We’ll go with Murray for his 8 (!) offensive boards, in particular.

Recap: Redhawks can’t stop Alan Williams or UCSB, fall 86-70

1 Jan

Any sports team, in any league, will have nights when they aren’t playing their best. They’ll have nights where they play more talented teams. And they’ll have to find a way to battle adversity to give them a chance to come out victorious.

The Redhawks definitely weren’t playing their best on Monday night against a very good UC Santa Barbara squad, and it showed, with the Gauchos running away with an 86-70 victory. It was the first home loss of the season for Seattle U, who end their nonconference schedule with an 8-5 record.

Alan Williams put up 27 points for UCSB in a dominant performance. The 6’7”, 285 pound center had no match in the paint and was accurate from the free-throw line – something that his whole team did well, shooting 34-39 from the free-throw stripe.

Isiah Umipig (24 points) and Emerson Murray (20) led the charge for Seattle in the second half, but it was too little, too late. The Redhawks trailed 32-17 at halftime, a deficit they would never recover from. This was largely due to 2-16 shooting from three-point range and a stubborn refusal (or, perhaps, inability) to get shots closer to the basket.

Cameron Dollar’s crew didn’t have an alternate game plan on offense until far too late in this one. That will have to change.

Key Moment – It could probably be any one of the first-half 3-pointers by UCSB’s Kyle Boswell. The reserve guard finished with 19 points, and delivered most of them on tightly defended three-pointers, even falling away from the basket. That was when it became apparent that it just wasn’t going to be Seattle’s night. Those same threes wouldn’t fall for Murray or Jarell Flora.

Key Player – Williams, really. The UCSB big man had no equal on the court. For the Redhawks it was Murray, who played with a controlled aggressiveness in the second half that helped rally his teammates and keep the game from getting completely out of hand.

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