REDHAWKS WIN: SU might have found its groove. It has played hard defense and a fast pace all season, but the offense made us wince more than not. Friday, you couldn’t help cooing at some of the shots snapping the net — especially the passes that led to the buckets. The Redhawks shot a season-high 55.8 percent from the field in winning 78-49 against Long Beach State. To be fair, Beach returned two players from injury and it was their first game as a group. And the 49ers are young, starting three underclassmen. But those are excuses no one was allowing SU in the past. The Redhawks had 22 assists on 29 made field goals, led by Rhea’s seven. The downer was the 27 turnovers, giving Beach 16 points. Sowell stuck to the fun aspect of playing a complete team-game, especially getting the shots to drop. SU was 10-of-16 from three-point range. “All of our shots seemed in rhythm within our offense,” said Rhea, who led four SU players to finish in double figures. She had 14 points. “Nothing really seemed forced. When you’re getting good, open looks, it makes it easier to knock it down. We shared the ball really well as a team and were able to set people up a little bit more to create better shots for them.” SU also crashed the boards, outrebounding Beach 48-26, limiting the 49ers to two second-chance points. The Redhawks (3-4) play at Boise State (4-3) on Sunday for their first true road trip of the season. Then SU has a week break before hosting Portland on Dec. 11 at Connolly Center. “One of the things we didn’t do well tonight was take care of the ball,” said Bonvicini of her team’s season-high miscues. “But great assists. I still think, obviously, our of free throw percentage needs to come up a bit (58.8 percent). We shot better from the three than we did the free throw line. But I like the contribution from our bench (30 points) and I like the intensity. Our team is getting better…we’re finally really starting to gel a little bit.” Beach (2-5) continues its road trip at Washington (4-2) on Sunday.
SCOREBOARD: Looking around at scores elsewhere and Washington State pulled off a massive one with a 65-50 victory against San Diego State. The Aztecs were getting votes for national polls. If the Cougs had beaten Gonzaga on Wednesday, I wonder if they would picked up any. Regardless, WSU is one to keep an eye on.
VROOM: The Redhawks are still playing a quick-paced game and executing well. SU is shooting 58.1 percent from the field, which will be a season-high if it holds. Three players are in double-figures while Sowell is close to a double double with 10 points and eight boards. SU is up 67-44 with 9:47 left in the game.
SPOTTED: NBA star Nate Robinson is in attendance, supporting cousin Joy Hollingsworth, who’s an assistant at SU. Washington freshmen Jazmine Davis and Talia Walton are also here, the Huskies host the 49ers on Sunday at Hec Ed. Former Redhawks PG Cassidy Murrilo is seated behind press row while the men’s SU team is peppered throughout the student-section stands. Storm co-owner Lisa Brummel watched, too, but is a regular at Connolly Center.
HALFTIME: Beach stayed aggressive, but Seattle U is using a 22-12 rebounding advantage and 60.7 percent shooting from the field to take a 48-34 lead into the break. Rhea is helping the team move the ball well offensively with five assists and no turnovers. Ward (nine points) and Rhea (eight points) are leading in scoring. Sowell has seven boards. The 49ers are shooting 38.7 percent from the field and getting smashed 22-8 in the paint. Meneses sank all three of her three-pointers to lead with 10 points. But Beach has to play stronger defensively if it’s going to have a chance in this game. SU needs to remain aggressive and keep up the hot shooting.
MINI RUN: OK, Beach went on a 10-3 run to pull within 28-25 after a three-pointer by Ochiltree with 6:16 remaining in the first half. Bonvicini called a quick timeout to regroup.
BIG LEAD: Beach is leaving its backdoor open and getting picked off by SU, falling behind 27-15 after a score by Sowell. The 49ers are using the three-point bucket to try to get back into the game, but need work defensively. Now they’re down 28-20 with 7:36 left in the half.
TREY BIEN: Two three-pointers by Ward helped SU build a 14-7 lead with 14:24 remaining in the opening half. The Redhawks are out and running, a good thing. But they’re not rebounding well, allowing Beach to get some points on second chances. Not good.
HOMECOMING: After a two-year juco stint, Ochiltree, a former Lake Stevens High standout, is back in Washington as a starter for the 49ers. She brought a good-sized cheering squad seated across press row at Connolly Center.
Image if Lisa Leslie stuck to her verbal commitment and went to Long Beach State. Doubt Friday’s game would be happening. Former 49ers coach Joan Bonvicini said she would have stayed at the school and it might still be a power, Long Beach State last reaching the NCAA Final Four in 1988.
Instead Bonvicini left for Arizona and is now at Seattle University trying to build a third unknown into a well-respected hoops school. And LBS has taken a dip, third-year coach Jody Wynn looking to return the 49ers to its glory years.
Leslie? Well, she signed with Southern California, leading that school to Pac-10 greatness in the 1990s. Then she went on to become a four-time, gold medal-winning Olympian, two-time WNBA champion with the Los Angeles Sparks, three-time MVP and current co-owner of the Sparks.
Enough about what could have been. Both the Redhawks and 49ers have matching 2-4, the latter playing the final stretch of a seven-game road trip. Long Beach State plays at Washington on Sunday and then returns home for its first game at Walter Pyramid on Dec, 8 against Nevada since a Nov. 11 win against Utah Valley.
LBS on has four returning players from last year’s 73-54 loss to SU. Yet, the Redhawks also feature a new look with Oregon State transfer Talisa Rhea eligible and senior wing Maggie McCarthy active after a knee injury.
Bonvicini had her team work on rebounding after losing its Thanksgiving Tournament title to Akron on Sunday. Seattle U was successful in defeating San Francisco the last time it had an extended practice period, we’ll see if that’s the case against Long Beach State.
It’s a game Bonvicini always likes to win, while reminiscing about her positive experiences in So Cal. In fact, she’s never lost to her former team. Let’s see if the streak continues, beginning with your starting lineups:
F Tipesa Moore
F Mary Ochiltree
C Ella Clark
G Hallie Meneses
G Alex Sanchez
F Sylvia Shephard
F Ashley Ward
C Kacie Sowell
G Elle Kerfoot
G Talisa Rhea
Tonight’s officials are: Lisa Jones, Clarke Stevens, and Wanda Szeremeta