Jim Hayford got to celebrate, but not before he had to sweat, at least in the first half.
The Seattle University men’s basketball coach got the 400th victory of his career Tuesday night as Myles Carter and Terrell Brown led a 115-81 rout of visiting Pacific University, an NCAA Division III team from Forest Grove, Ore.
“Players win games and I’ve had a lot of great players,” Hayford said. “And I’ve had a lot of great assistant coaches. No coach has ever won a game by himself. … I guess it means I have some stick-to-it-ness and I got a few things right.”
It was not easy early. The Boxers, with their constant full-court press, wave after wave of five fresh players and an astonishing number of three-point attempts, certainly made the Redhawks work.
Seattle U trailed 33-32 with 6:23 left in the first half but finally took some control and led 53-44 at the half. Pacific played 16 players in the first half and 31 of its 42 shots were three-pointers (going 10 of 31 and 17 of 55 for the game).
But once Seattle U broke the press, Carter was too strong inside for Pacific, scoring a career-high 37 points on 11-of-12 shooting (15 of 17 on free throws) with most of his baskets coming on dunks. He also had 15 rebounds, and Brown added 19 points (on 8-of-9 shooting) and six assists, helping the Redhawks to pull away in the second half.
Hayford (400-206) hoped his milestone would have happened sooner. But the Redhawks (2-2) lost 85-54 at Washington State and lost 74-66 at home Saturday to Eastern Washington, where Hayford got 106 of his victories before coming to Seattle U before the 2017-18 season.
If Hayford can pick up his 401st victory Saturday, it would be one of the biggest of his career with the Redhawks playing at Syracuse in the NIT Season Tip-off event. The Redhawks will then play Tuesday in the same event at Mississippi.
Are the Redhawks ready?
Certainly, they will need several players to step up. Before the win over Pacific, 6-foot-1 point guard Brown was averaging 23.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists. No one else was averaging in double-figure scoring.
“This was great, but we want to win the games we lost last week,” Hayford said. “Now we just have to dive our guys into the process as we’re playing two NCAA tournament, Power-Five conference teams.”
Seattle U starting guard Morgan Means missed Tuesday’s game with a bruised thigh, but the senior is expected to play against Syracuse. Riley Grigsby, expected to be a starting guard/forward, has been out all season with a broken hand.