They weren't done yet. Even after posting a 3-15 record in the Western Athletic Conference (8-21 overall), the Seattle University men's basketball team still had a shot -- albeit a long shot -- at making it to the NCAA tournament. All they'd have to do is run the table in the WAC tournament and earn the conference's automatic berth.
First on SU's March Madness checklist would be taking down Texas State in the opening round at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
To combat a Bobcats front line that featured 6-foot-10 center Matt Staff and 6-7 forward Joel Wright (All-WAC Second Team), Redhawks coach Cameron Dollar opted to go big. Senior center Louis Green (6-9) was inserted into a starting lineup that included three forwards -- Deshaun Sunderhaus (6-9), Chad Rasmussen (6-7) and Clarence Trent (6-6) -- and just one guard, senior Prince Obasi. Freshman center Jack Crook (6-11) played a season-high 21 minutes off the bench.
The unique look worked in one sense, as Seattle U outrebounded Texas State by a 35-29 count -- Obasi ironically led the way with 10 boards -- but the offense struggled with fewer ballhandlers and shooters on the court. The Redhawks fell behind 10-0 to start the game, and by the end of the night had made just 33.9 percent of their field goals while notching only five assists on 19 baskets.
SU was down by eight to start the second half before Rasmussen hit a pair of three-pointers to spark an 8-0 run that tied the score. The Redhawks couldn't grab the lead, however, and the Bobcats regained control behind Wright (26 points) and Staff (13 points). Wright's dunk with 1:30 remaining put Texas State up by 10, and from there they were perfect at the free-throw line during SU's desperate comeback attempt that ended in a 68-56 final score.
Sunderhaus led Seattle U with 15 points to wrap up a solid first-year campaign, while Obasi had 13 points and Rasmussen added 11 in their final collegiate game.
Did the Redhawks have a miracle tourney run in them had they gotten past the Bobcats? Who knows. Texas State would go on to face Denver in the next round, a team that beat Seattle U twice in the regular season by an average of 15 points.
But for at least 40 minutes of real postseason basketball, SU had an opportunity to be optimistic.
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