A new era began Sunday night for the Seattle University men’s basketball team, playing its first home game at renovated Climate Pledge Arena — and the Redhawks seemed right at home in their new digs.
Seattle U (2-1) sent the homecoming crowd happy, pulling away from Idaho State with a dominant second-half performance and winning 77-51.
“The ball went in the basket and once one went in our confidence came,” said interim Seattle coach Chris Victor, whose team rebounded from a 79-61 loss at Washington State on Friday night. “That is the team that we envisioned. A team that plays with pace, that plays fast and is the aggressor offensively. It was a fun second half.”
The Redhawks outscored Idaho State 52-26 in the second half, with junior Riley Grigsby scoring 19 of his career-high 30 points in the final 20 minutes. Grigsby was 7 of 8 from the field in the second half and Seattle U shot 66 percent (19 of 29) in the second half as a team.
“I knew I had never had 30 before,” said Grigsby, whose previous high was 28. “I wasn’t really aiming for 30, but I knew those guys couldn’t guard me. In the first half, I was forcing shots. But in the second half, they told me to still stay aggressive.”
A 24-7 run gave Seattle U a 55-36 lead with 8:06 remaining and the only suspense after that was the margin of victory.
Seattle U played games at KeyArena for years since returning to Division I in 2010, and the Redhawks were happy to be back at the Seattle Center, although their new home has little resemblance to their old home. They will play eight of 19 home games at Climate Pledge Arena.
It took the Redhawks a little while to look comfortable. They didn’t trail for the first 10 minutes, but cold shooting — making six of their first 21 shots — kept them from leading by more than five points.
Idaho State (1-2), coached by former Seattle Pacific coach Ryan Looney, took its first lead at 14-12 with 9:20 remaining in the first half. The Bengals led by as many as five points before Seattle U battled back to tie the score at 25 at halftime.
Cameron Tyson scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half for Seattle U, which returns to action Thursday night at the Redhawk Center against Morgan State.
It will be a welcome three days off for Seattle U.
“That was three games in five days,” Victor said. “I thought our defense was great, our energy was great and our toughness was as good as it has been all year. It was an impressive, impressive performance by our guys.”
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