Seattle University had the rowdy crowd. It had the preseason accolades.
It just didn’t have a consistent shot.
The Redhawks struggled to make free throws and couldn’t defend within the NCAA’s new rules in its women’s basketball season opener against Pepperdine on Friday. It led to an 84-73 loss in which the Waves shot 61.7 percent from the field in the game.
“I hate to say it, but they outworked us,” said SU coach Joan Bonvicini, whose team was outrebounded, 46-36. “It shows, obviously, in rebounds, but it showed on defense. A lot (of Pepperdine’s) shots were layups.”
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Pepperdine made five of its first seven shots in the second half and led 62-49 with 10:36 remaining in the game. SU chipped at the deficit but struggled at the free-throw line, where the Redhawks were 9 of 22 overall.
Seattle senior forward Kacie Sowell finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Teammate Ashley Ward scored 12 of her 15 points in the second half, while senior guard Sylvia Shephard had 15 points and five assists.
The Waves had five players score in double figures. Sophomore forward Amanda Lovely was 7 for 7 from the field for 14 points off the bench. Junior guard Bria Richardson led her team in scoring with 16 points.
Pepperdine was 5-23 last season and finished tied for ninth in the West Coast Conference.
On Friday, the Waves found a rhythm offensively as the Redhawks, the preseason pick to win another Western Athletic Conference regular-season title, struggled to adjust their defensive pressure. There were 41 fouls called in the game.
SU began the night honoring last season’s run as a first-time member of the WAC.
The banner was unfurled behind the eastern basket at the Connolly Center gym. In its first season as an NCAA-tournament eligible team, SU finished 15-3 in the conference and 20-11 overall.
But the Redhawks have 10 underclassmen on their current roster.
“It was great that we got to do that,” Sowell said of the quick ceremony before 506 fans. “But what it really comes down to is, if we want to do that again, we’re going to have to come out and play harder than that.”