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.