Finally, reason to rejoice at midcourt for Seattle U.
That Seattle snapped a three-game losing skid before the largest crowd of the season at KeyArena was only part of the celebration.
Following their 76-68 victory over Idaho, Redhawks players bounced at midcourt moments after senior forward Clarence Trent got down on his right knee, a microphone in one hand, a ring in the other, and asked Lindsay McDevitt to marry him.
She accepted his proposal.
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For a while Saturday night, it looked like that might be the only thing Seattle would be celebrating in its final Western Athletic Conference home game of the season.
The Redhawks (13-14, 5-9 WAC), in the words of senior guard D’Vonne Pickett Jr., played a “horrible” first half. Coming off a triple-overtime loss to Chicago State on Thursday night, the Redhawks missed 14 of their 17 three-point attempts and trailed by nine points less than eight minutes in before a rowdy crowd of 3,573.
But just before halftime, Seattle guard Isiah Umipig found his shooting stroke, connecting on an off-balance three-pointer from the far left corner with 1 second left in the half. He was 2 of 10 on three-point attempts until that shot, but that make cut Idaho’s halftime lead to 36-32.
In a matchup of the WAC’s top two scorers, Umipig took over in the second half and then took control of the league scoring lead while Idaho’s Stephen Madison battled foul trouble. Umipig finished with a career-high 36 points and Madison had 18.
“I work on my shot a lot. Sometimes there’s even overconfidence — you know, I always think I’m going to make the next one,” said Umipig, a 6-foot guard from Federal Way. “Even when I miss, my teammates tell me, ‘Keep shooting, man.’ … I knew it was a matter of time before they started going in.”
Umipig hit 5 of 7 threes in the second half and was 12 of 22 overall from the field. That nudged Umipig (20.2 points per game) ahead of Madison (19.8 ppg) atop the WAC scoring race.
More important, it nudged Seattle into a tie with Idaho (12-17, 5-9 WAC) for sixth place in the nine-team WAC, with six teams still in the hunt for the No. 4 seed for the WAC tournament. Seattle closes the regular season next week with road games at Kansas City and Chicago State.
“It feels like we finally got over that hump, being able to close out a game,” Umipig said. “Once we started rallying and getting stops, that’s when we really won the game as a team.”
Trent and Pickett, Seattle’s two seniors, were honored at midcourt during a pregame ceremony. Pickett, a Rainier Beach product, even shed a few tears before the game, and that added emotion contributed to Seattle’s slow start, he said.
“It feels good to get a win and go out on top,” said Pickett, who had 15 points, six assists and eight rebounds.
Afterward, he was cradling the game ball in his right arm. “I’m not letting go of this,” he said.
Pickett scored the go-ahead basket for Seattle with 8:54 left on a floater in the lane. He added a reverse layup on the next possession as part of a 19-9 run for the Redhawks. Umipig had three three-pointers during that run, including his final field goal, pushing the lead to 70-62 with 1:59 left.
Adam Jude: 206-464-2364
On Twitter: @a_jude