Seattle University women’s basketball earned their 20th win of the season, topping Wright State (21-13), to advance to the Women’s Basketball Invitational semifinals, 82-65. This is the team’s first 20-win season as an NCAA Division I program. The team is now 14-5 at home this season and has won 12 of their last 14 home contests.
“I thought, today, from the moment the game started, we were just in attack mode,” said head coach Joan Bonvicini. “I thought [Molly] Fox had a great game and [Kim] Demmings scored more in the second half, but we made them earn everything. I thought, offensively, we did a great job of moving the ball. We had 13 turnovers and 22 assists, and we just shared the ball very well. I was very, very proud of our team.”
The Redhawks scored first, as Talisa Rhea hit a three-pointer with 18:19 left in the first half. Molly Fox responded with two back-to-back layups for Wright State, taking the 4-3 lead, as well as a 6-5 lead on a jumper by Fox two and a half minutes later. However, these proved to be the first and last leads for the Raiders.
Seattle U increased their lead to double-digits for the first time with a layup by Rhea with 11:23 left in the first half, putting the Redhawks ahead, 19-8. They led by as many as 15 in the first half, 26-11, with 10:10 left after a Sylvia Shephard layup.
Wright State came back to within six after Kim Demmings hit a jumper with 5:06 left in the first half to make it 29-23, but this was the closest margin for the remainder of the game.
At the halftime break, Seattle U held a 10-point lead, 42-32.
The two teams traded baskets throughout the start of the second half, but the Redhawks increased the lead to 18, 64-46, with 11:59 left in the contest on a three-pointer by Ashley Ward (Irvine, Calif.). Seattle U held their largest lead of the game, leading by 19, with 3:54 left in the game, after Elle Kerfoot (Surrey, B.C.) drove in for a layup.
The teams again traded baskets for much of the remainder of the game, and Seattle U came away with the 17-point victory, 82-65.
Rhea led the team with 18 points, six rebounds, and seven assists and three other Redhawks scored in double figures. Shephard scored 17, shooting 7-for-9 from the field, including 3-for-5 from behind the three-point line. Kacie Sowell (Ventura, Calif.) notched her 17th double-double of the season, and seventh in the past eight games, scoring 16 points and bringing down 14 rebounds. Ward also scored 10 points for the Redhawks and recorded six assists and five steals.
Fox led Wright State with 23 points and brought down 10 rebounds, and Shaunda Sandifer led the team with 11 rebounds. Two other players also scored in double figures for the Raiders, as Demmings scored 18 points and nine rebounds and Courtney Boyd scored 15 points on five three-pointers.
The Redhawks led the Raiders in field-goal percentage (43.2 percent to 37.5 percent), three-point field-goal percentage (37.5 percent to 29.4 percent), and free-throw percentage (100.0 percent to 77.8 percent) as well as in rebounds (43-40), assists (22-11), and steals (16-4).
Seattle U (20-11) will host Northern Iowa on Wednesday, Mar. 21, at 7 p.m. for a semifinal matchup, with the winner heading to the final game of the Women’s Basketball Invitational. On the other side of the bracket, Minnesota will host Manhattan on Friday, Mar. 23, and the winner of that game will also reach the finals.
Rhea and teammate Sowell were named to the 2012 Division I All-Independent Women’s Basketball Team on Monday. This is Rhea’s first and final season with the Redhawks and she leads the team in assists (162) and is second in scoring (13.8). Rhea has been named College Sports Madness Independent Player of the Week three times and is one of only three players on the team to notch a double-double this season. Rhea is tied for 26th in the nation in assist per game (5.2) and is ranked second among players competing in the WBI in assists per game. Both players have started in all 31 games for Seattle U so far this season and both previously received First-Team All-Conference.