Late free throws lift Utah Valley over SU

Jarell Flora (Photo: Eric Badeau)

Seattle U's 8-22 record last season was defined by a series of down-to-the-wire losses in which the Redhawks were hurt by a combination of bad luck and an inability to execute on the game's most crucial possessions. But thanks to experience gained and talent added to the roster, the late-game hiccups hadn't been an problem this season. Until Sunday.

The Redhawks' 52-51 loss to Utah Valley -- the team's sixth defeat in seventh games -- did not fit the profile of SU's previous defeats this season. In those losses, coach Cameron Dollar's squad had made a habit of falling behind early and needing a furious second-half rally just to catch up.

This time, the Redhawks (9-9 overall, 1-4 in the WAC) found themselves in a back-and-forth game of runs against the Wolverines (10-7, 4-0) that came down to two free throws with two seconds left on the clock.

The game was close and the teams evenly matched from tip-off, as both struggled offensively. Utah Valley led by three at halftime, but Seattle U went on a 13-4 run early in the second half ignited by an Emerson Murray three-pointer and capped by two straight buckets from Shore Adenekan. The Wolverines responded, however, with a 10-0 run to regain the lead.

Utah Valley was still clinging to a one-point lead with 20 seconds left when SU sophomore forward Deshaun Sunderhaus' tip-in of his own miss put the Redhawks ahead 51-50.

The Wolverines' next possession ended when Hayes Garrity missed a jumper and the ball was knocked out of bounds. All Seattle U needed to do at that point was get the ball inbounds and get ready for the free-throw parade, but Utah Valley junior forward Mitch Bruneel stole the inbounds pass, drew a foul, and iced the go-ahead free throws with two seconds left. Seattle U couldn't get a shot off before the final buzzer.

The loss was SU's sixth in its last seven games.

Sunderhaus led the Redhawks with 12 points, seven rebounds and two blocks, while Jarell Flora had 11 points and two three-pointers off the bench. As a team, SU shot just 35 percent from the floor (21-of-59) and 21 percent from three-point range (5-of-23). The starting backcourt of Murray and Isiah Umipig combined for 13 points, shooting 4-of-23 from the field and 3-of-17 from deep. Umipig, the WAC's leading scorer coming into the game, scored a season-low six points.

Bruneel led Utah Valley with 20 points and nine rebounds, while preseason All-WAC center Ben Aird posted a double-double with 11 points and 12 boards.

Seattle U's next game is on Saturday, Jan. 25, on the road against Grand Canyon. The Antelopes are in their first season as a NCAA Division-I program and are coached by former NBA All-Star guard Dan Majerle.

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