It's a common story in college basketball: The underrated high school kid who slips through the grasp of his local college comes back with a chip on his shoulder and an opponent's jersey on his back to show the hometown folks what they've been missing.
Michael Hale III may not hold any grudges against Seattle University, but the Federal Way (Wash.) High School product definitely played like it when he dropped 35 points on the Redhawks while leading UT San Antonio to a 78-75 victory on Jan. 24 at KeyArena.
Losing close encounters was a common occurrence for Seattle U last season, but the UTSA loss stood out because -- on paper, at least -- it was supposed to be a win. Going into the game, the Roadrunners were 1-7 on the road and 0-7 in the Western Athletic Conference. And facing a Redhawks team whose front line checked in at 6-foot-9 (Deshaun Sunderhaus), 6-7 (Chad Rasmussen) and 6-6 (Clarence Trent), the Roadrunners were using a three-guard lineup with two "bigs" that each measured just 6-4.
But size and history would prove irrelevant, as the 5-9 Hale played his best game of the year in front of his hometown crowd, using his quickness and handle to beat SU's press and set up scoring opportunities. Hale went 9-for-18 from the field and 16-for-17 at the line to lead UTSA.
Trailing by 12 points with just under 12 minutes to go, the Redhawks stormed back, tying the score on junior guard D'Vonne Pickett's driving layup with six minutes remaining. But then SU proceeded to go the next five and a half minutes without hitting a field goal. UTSA regained control while SU was plagued by missed free throws, bad shot selection and turnovers.
Seattle U guard Jarell Flora finally hit a three-pointer with 30 seconds left, then hit another with two seconds left to cut UTSA's lead to three. But when Kannon Burrage missed two free throws that could have have iced it for the Roadrunners, the Redhawks were unable to get a shot off before the final buzzer.
Pickett finished with 14 points, seven rebounds, six assists and five steals for SU, while Sunderhaus added 16 points and three blocks. Flora had 12 points on four three-pointers off the bench.
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