Seattle U improves to 8-2 with a victory over Eastern Washington. Myles Carter was dominant inside, with 23 points and eight rebounds.
His team won by 20 points, committed no turnovers in the opening half, and still Seattle U men’s basketball coach Jim Hayford would not allow himself too much satisfaction.
Not with so many things he believes his Redhawks can improve on.
But they were good enough Saturday night at the Redhawk Center to roll to an 88-68 victory over Eastern Washington, the team Hayford coached for six seasons until taking the Seattle U job before last season.
“When you beat a Division I opponent by 20 points, that’s a good day,” Hayford said. “But we’re at that part of the season where it’s hard to take a lot of satisfaction in the game because we are so focused on how much better we want to get. Mistakes are going to happen, but there are 15 to 20 things in the game where we coached you not to do that. We just need to keep getting better.”
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That said, the Redhawks improved to 8-2 for the first time since 2007-08 and it is their best start as an NCAA Division I team since the 1968-69 season.
Seattle U hurt Eastern inside, with 6-foot-9 forward Myles Carter having a team-high 23 points and eight rebounds. Delante Jones (19 points), Matej Kavas (18 points) and Morgan Means (16 points) provided the outside punch.
Terrell Brown had nine assists and Means had seven for Seattle U, which never led by less than 10 points in the second half.
On defense, the Redhawks’ strategy was to not let Eastern Washington make three-pointers and the Eagles were 5 of 28 from long range.
“That strategy worked,” said Hayford, whose team had a mere five turnovers for the game.
The result was similar to last season, when Seattle U beat Eastern Washington 84-65. Hayford has a knack of being on the right side of the matchup, as Eastern was 5-1 against Seattle U in his final four seasons in Cheney.
The Redhawks took control late in the first half, scoring the final 11 points after Eastern Washington cut Seattle U’s lead to 28-25. Means, a junior guard who is leading the Redhawks in scoring, made a three-pointer just before the halftime buzzer to make the score 39-25.
Eastern put up 17 three-pointers in the first half, making two. It was 9 of 15 on two-point shots.
The Eagles, who have played a brutally tough schedule, fell to 1-5, and were led by forward Jesse Hunt’s 26 points.
Hayford was conflicted and emotional during last season’s game, having no fun in beating his former team. He said the preparation was easier this time, but when the game began he had to fight the urge to coach his former Eastern players.
“It’s a weird feeling,” he said. “It’s like watching your two kids play against each other. But it’s getting less and less hard, and what makes it easier is that those guys are so well cared for. So it’s not as hard, but it’s hard.”
But it’s over, and Means echoed his coach after the game.
“Defensively, we can still get a lot better, as well as offensively,” Means said. “But we came out and really competed.”
The next chance to do that is Thursday night at home against Omaha, followed by a game next Sunday at crosstown rival Washington. Hayford will stress to his team the need to not look past Omaha.
“That’s the elephant in the room,” Hayford said of the looming game versus UW.