Kallin Spiller scored a career-high 28 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead Seattle University to a 75-64 victory over Missouri-Kansas City on Friday in the first round.
LAS VEGAS — It was apparent early that Missouri-Kansas City had no answer for Kallin Spiller, Seattle University’s 6-foot-3 freshman center. So, her teammates kept getting the ball to her.
She responded with her best game yet.
Spiller scored a career-high 28 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead Seattle University to a 75-64 victory over Missouri-Kansas City on Wednesday in the first round of the Western Athletic Conference tournament at Orleans Arena.
Fourth-seeded Seattle U will face New Mexico State next, at 2:30 p.m. Friday. New Mexico State, the top seed, defeated No. 8 seed Chicago State 84-60 in its opener.
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Spiller scored seven of Seattle U’s first 10 points and had 16 points and 10 rebounds by halftime.
She surpassed her previous career high on the first basket of the second half.
“I felt really good in the first quarter,” said Spiller, who was 13 for 17 from the floor. “Most of my points came off incredible passes from my teammates.”
Spiller, whose previous high was 17 in a Feb. 3 win over Utah Valley, got multiple layups when Redhawks guards beat UMKC’s full-court press, which confounded Seattle U for much of the game.
“It’s hard when they’re trapping (us),” Spiller said after the Kangaroos forced 21 Redhawks turnovers. “UMKC’s press was really great.”
McKenzi Williams chipped in 14 points and Kamira Sanders added 13 for the Redhawks, who beat UMKC for the third time this season. Alexis Montgomery, Seattle U’s leading scorer, finished with a season-low nine points.
The Redhawks built a double-digit lead in the first half and stretched it to 46-29 with 6½ minutes left in the third quarter. UMKC got within 10 in the fourth quarter but back-to-back three-pointers by Williams keyed a 9-1 run that gave Seattle U a 69-51 lead with 5:28 to go.
Aries Washington had 17 points to lead the Kangaroos (11-19), who shot 36.4 percent from the field for the game. They made 16 of 28 in the second half after shooting just 21 percent in the opening 20 minutes.
Seattle U opened the second quarter with a 13-4 run that stretched its lead to 28-17.
The Redhawks took a 38-25 lead into halftime despite their difficulties with the UMKC press.
The Kangaroos forced 13 Seattle U turnovers in the first half but were just 8 for 38 from the floor in the opening 20 minutes. UMKC would have faced a bigger deficit if not for an 8-0 advantage in points off turnovers.
Seattle U dominated on the inside in the first half, outscoring UMKC 24-6 in the paint and limiting the Kangaroos to a 50 percent rebound rate on the defensive end.
After a three-point play by McKenzi Williams gave the Redhawks a 15-8 first-quarter lead, the Kangaroos turned up their full-court pressure, forcing turnovers on three straight Seattle U possessions to get within 15-13 at the end of the period.
Seattle U and New Mexico State split their regular-season meetings, each winning on its home court.
“They’re strong all-around,” Spiller said of the Aggies. “We’re going to have to defend their dribble drive.”
Grand Canyon and Cal State Bakersfield meet in Friday’s other semifinal.