For most of Thursday's game against Norfolk State -- played at SU's home away from home, the ShoWare Center in Kent, Wash. -- the Redhawks were behind on the scoreboard and building a house of bricks in the process. Starting point guard Isiah Umipig went 5-for-14 from the field and 2-for-8 from three-point range, while starting two-guard Jarell Flora and backup Emerson Murray combined to go 1-for-15 from the field and 0-for-13 from deep.
After trailing by 11 points at halftime and still behind by double digits midway through the second half, Seattle U (8-3) was down 67-60 with three minutes remaining. Umipig then split a pair of free throws. Senior forward Clarence Trent hit a jumper. Umipig made a three. With 26 seconds left, the Redhawks trailed by one and had the ball. That's when Pickett drove the lane and made the layup that would prove to be the game-winner.
"Coach (Cameron Dollar) drew up a play for Deshaun (Sunderhaus) to set a ball screen for me and then slip it," Pickett said of the pivotal play. "I noticed the defender jumped to the left side, which gave me a step on him going to the right. So I attacked the basket and laid the ball high off the glass.
"In the heat of the moment I thought to myself, 'You make this play every day in practice,'" Pickett added. "My team needed me to step up on that last play, and as our senior captain I had to deliver. It was a great team win."
Norfolk State (8-4) missed two shots on their next possession, and Umipig added two free throws to help seal the win.
"It took a lot of guts and a lot of scrapping tonight," Dollar said afterward. "We tried to contain them in the first half, but they had a good rhythm. In the second half, we turned the pressure up on them and created some turnovers. On offense, we resisted the urge to go too fast and really played sound basketball. Once we got into the bonus, we continually attacked the basket and saw success."
The 10-0 run to end the game was reminiscent of SU's win over Cal State Fullerton on Nov. 13 at KeyArena, when the Redhawks went on a 14-0 run late in the second half to overcome the Titans. While that run was notable for a barrage of three-pointers from Flora, Umipig and reserve guard Luiz Bidart, the run against Norfolk State was defined by defense. Over the game's final three minutes, the Spartans went 0-for-5 from the field and turned the ball over twice.
Pickett, one of just two seniors on the Redhawks’ roster, took only two shots all night. He made both. The Seattle native and Rainier Beach High School alum had seen his playing time dip slightly as of late -- around the same time Murray returned to the lineup from a foot injury -- but on Thursday made a case for why he should be on the court more often.
Umipig finished with 18 points for SU, while sophomore forward Deshaun Sunderhaus scored 18 off the bench. Trent added 17 points, going 3-for-4 from three-point range, while Murray helped offset his cold shooting night with a team-high four assists and three steals.
Norfolk State senior guard Malcolm Hawkins led the Spartans with 22 points.
Seattle U's next game is Sunday, Dec. 22, at Nebraska-Omaha.
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