Murray returns as Seattle U shuts down PLU

Emerson Murray (Photo: John Aronson)

The last time Seattle U played a lower-level local team that (honestly) had no business on the court with them, the Redhawks let loose a 100-point offensive fusillade against Evergreen State one month ago. On Sunday, when D-III Pacific Lutheran came to KeyArena, it was a suffocating defensive effort by SU that was the story of another blowout victory.

The Redhawks' 66-38 victory over the Lutes was the team's fourth straight win, as Seattle U (7-3) remained unbeaten at home this season.

Junior guards Isiah Umipig and Emerson Murray were the only two SU players to score in double figures, and they only had 10 points apiece.

While the Redhawks' offense worked through the rust of having not played a game since Dec. 7 due to fall-quarter finals, Seattle U's defense held PLU (3-4) to 23 percent shooting from the field (11 of 47) and forced 20 turnovers.

After Pacific Lutheran grabbed an early lead, Seattle U went on a 12-0 run over span of four minutes, then had another 16-0 run in the first half that effectively ended the contest.

Murray was on the court for the first time since the Nov. 10 season opener against Washington, having missed eight games with a right foot injury. The 6-3 shooting guard, who transferred to Seattle U from California and sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, showed flashes of why his addition to the roster was such a big deal in the first place. Murray hit two three-pointers, drove to the basket with authority, finished at the rim while absorbing contact, made it clear he'll be an effective ball-handler and passer alongside Umipig in the backcourt, and contributed two steals on defense.

"Emerson looked good. He has been transitioning back for about two weeks now, so this was basically the end of the transition," SU coach Cameron Dollar said. "It was good for him to get out there and get his legs under him. It was nice to see him make some shots, but he was also moving well on defense and did not show much rust."

Clarence Trent, Deshaun Sunderhaus and William Powell scored eight points each for the Redhawks, with Powell and Sunderhaus adding nine rebounds apiece. Brandon Lester and Terrell Williams scored 10 each to lead Pacific Lutheran.

Asked what he's been most pleased with during SU's win streak, Dollar answered, "That we're not concerned with a winning streak. We're focused on continuing to get better and improving in the areas we need to improve in.

"We've had a little success. OK, now how do you handle that?" Dollar added. "That's another stage of development for teams that are aspiring to be good, and for good teams that are aspiring to be great. How do you handle it the next time you get punched in the mouth? When the inevitable adversity comes, how will you sustain what you've been doing?"

NOTES

* Other WAC scores from Sunday: Cal State Bakersfield (5-6) lost at USC; Chicago State (4-6) lost at DePaul; and Texas-Pan American (4-8) lost at TCU.

* The Redhawks next play Norfolk State on Thursday, Dec. 19, in the ShoWare Showdown at the ShoWare Center in Kent, Wash.

* Before the PLU game, Dollar talked about SU's week-long layoff: "Finals week is always challenging. Our guys put forth great effort in their classes, so it's a big deal to them. It's always weighing on you, staying up late and cramming, that kind of stuff. It's an underrated event because people are so excited about the games that they minimize the fact that these guys are students, too."

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