It’s going to take a little while longer before the Seattle University men’s basketball team truly understands the ramifications of its latest lineup change.
Jack Crook, a 6-foot-11 sophomore center, made his first start of the season, which gave the Redhawks a tremendous size advantage, but that was over Evergreen State, a NAIA Division II school with just two players 6-7 or taller.
The Redhawks went on to use their superior size and athleticism to pound out a 100-59 victory Saturday night in front of 2,886 at KeyArena.
Unlike its previous outing — a 75-71 victory over Cal State Fullerton decided in the final minutes — Seattle U (2-1) captured a big lead early and cruised to the end.
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It was an exhibition for Evergreen State (1-2), but it was a small, somewhat significant step forward for SU, which was 8-22 last season.
“We can learn a lot every time we play, and this game was just as important as our first win,” Crook said. “Tonight we learned that we need to make sure that if we do get a lead, then we need to build on it. We can’t let up.”
It was a season-high point total for SU and the most since tallying 111 on Feb. 29, 2012.
The 41-point victory also was the second-largest margin of victory since coach Cameron Dollar took over in 2009.
However, rebounding told the story of this blowout.
Led by Crook, who had 14 boards, the Redhawks finished with 68 rebounds, which was the most in the Dollar era. SU had 35 offensive boards, while Evergreen State finished with 28 total rebounds.
“Defense and rebounding, that’s something we’re going to always hang our hat on, I don’t care who we’re playing against,” Dollar said. “To rebound the basketball the way we rebounded is impressive.”
The Redhawks also dominated inside offensively.
They converted 37 of 85 field goals (43.5 percent), which included 11 layups, eight putbacks, six dunks and just three three-pointers.
Isiah Umipig had 19 points along with Dehaun Sunderhaus, who also finished with 11 rebounds.
The Redhawks overcame a sluggish start and 2-for-9 shooting in the opening minutes before seizing control with a 19-0 run.
Evergreen State’s Kyle Calhoun sank two free throws to knot the score at 6-6 before Seattle U held the Geoducks scoreless on their next nine possessions, and the rout was on.
With a small, boisterous SU student section chanting “one more basket,” forward Shore Adenekan (10 points) capped the SU scoring with a putback that pushed the Redhawks into triple digits.
Dollar said he is pleased with the start but is eager to see how his team, with this latest lineup change, responds Tuesday in its first road game at Boise State.
“As much as you are desperately trying to win every game in the preseason, you can never forget the fact that you’re developing your team,” he said. “There will probably be some more lineup changes coming.”
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org