Seattle University women’s basketball is going to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history after winning the 2018 Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Championship. The Redhawks outlasted CSU Bakersfield, 57-54, to claim the title at The Orleans Arena Saturday.
SU (18-14) will now await the NCAA Tournament Selection Show on Monday. Fans are welcome to join the team in the O’Brien Center on campus as it learns where it will travel for the first round of the tournament. The show is scheduled for 4 p.m. on ESPN.
Kamira Sanders won Tournament MVP honors after scoring a game-high 20 points Saturday. She averaged 17.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game this week. Alexis Montgomery earned All-Tournament honors, posting 13.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists in three outings in Las Vegas.
In the fourth quarter, CSU Bakersfield took a 47-46 edge with 5:52 left. The Redhawks responded with a game-changing 9-0 run over the next 2:19, taking the lead for good. Sanders drove right and scored and then Madeline Dopplick drained a three from Montgomery. After another stop, Jacinta Beckley sank a long jumper with 4:17 left. SU came up with another defensive stand and Sanders scored again, making it 55-47 at the 3:33 mark.
SU would have to hold on down the stretch, as the `Runners mounted a comeback. Three layups and a free throw made it a one-point difference with 27 seconds to go. The Redhawks called timeout and Sanders ended up getting fouled with 22 seconds remaining. The sophomore connected on both foul shots to give her side a 57-54 margin.
CSUB (18-13) missed on its next trip, as Beckley came down the rebound and called timeout. Bakersfield forced a turnover, though, regaining possession with 3.5 seconds left. Dopplick harassed Alexxus Gilbert in the backcourt and deflected a pass ahead, leaving Aja Williams with only a desperation heave that fell short and sent the Redhawks sprinting into celebration.
Seattle U held the `Runners to 34.4 percent field-goal shooting in the game, containing CSUB to 3-15 accuracy from three-point range. The Redhawks shot 37.8 percent from the field, including 45.8 percent in the second half.
The game was tight throughout, with neither side gaining more than a four-point advantage until SU's late run. The Redhawks sank 18-19 free throws in the contest, keeping their offense afloat and hanging in until the offense came around.
The first round of the NCAA Tournament is slated for Friday, March 15, and Saturday, March 16.