There was a surge of optimism coursing through the Redhawks Center that this might be the year the Seattle University women’s basketball team snapped its 40-year losing streak to Washington.
The Huskies stumbled into Friday’s game following two lackluster losses while the Redhawks had twice as many wins and looked impressive winning two of their past three games.
But the 23rd meeting between Seattle’s Division I hoops teams ended just like the previous 15 matchups, a Husky win.
This time, Washington leaned heavily on Alexis Griggsby who scored a season-high 23 points, including a personal-best seven three-pointers during a 77-59 nonconference victory.
“So proud of not only her performance tonight but just her work ethic,” coach Tina Langley said. “Her character and the way she’s leading. We have a servant leadership culture, and she’s so kind and really looks out for her teammates. She’s put in so much work that it’s just fun to be able to see her have a night like tonight.”
Washington has won 16 straight games against Seattle U, dominating the series 20-3.
When the cross-city matchup began in 1977, SU won three of the first seven games. However, the Redhawks last win over UW was in 1981.
“I never worry about the record because it’s a new year,” said Langley, who is in her first year with the Huskies. “Especially coming out of COVID because we all have such different rosters now.”
Considering Seattle U’s impressive road wins at Boise State, SMU and Sacramento State as well as a close loss at UNLV during a five-game road trip, this looked like the year the Redhawks would finally come out on top against Washington even though they were missing junior forward Georgia Kehoe to an undisclosed absence.
However, the Redhawks appeared out of sync at the start in their first home game since Nov. 13 while Griggsby came out firing and connected on her first five shots, including four three-pointers.
The Huskies — who converted 62.5% of their shots, including 6 of 9 3-pointers — led 26-14 in the first quarter.
“I was just going with whatever they gave me and I took it,” Griggsby said. “They didn’t put that much pressure on me so I was able to shoot it.”
Washington cooled off in the second quarter and Seattle U used a smothering defense to force seven turnovers and outscored UW 15-14 in the period.
Still, the Huskies were up 40-29 at halftime, which was an impressive offensive performance considering Washington lost 58-37 to North Carolina and 60-47 to VCU two weeks ago.
“I’m really proud of the way we handled the 10 days,” Langley said. “We had 10 days to go in and get to work on continuing to learn our offensive system and that just takes time.
“I tell them that maybe the best thing to happen to us is to have that long break so we can get in and really talk about screening angles, how we make reads and what we’re going to do when people change up defensively on us.”
Before Friday, Griggsby averaged 4.8 points and shot 28.6% on three-pointers while converting 4 of 14 from long range.
Against Seattle U, the 5-foot-9 fifth-year senior sank 8 of 12 attempts, including 7 of 10 behind the arc in 31 minutes.
“I’ve been in the gym a little bit more lately,” Griggsby said. “My teammates were able to get it to me tonight. … Just shoot the ball when you can. Shooters shoot.”
Griggsby’s last three-pointer extended the Huskies’ lead to 21 points (58-37) with 2:09 left.
Lauren Schwartz added 13 points and Haley Van Dyke 12 for UW, which led for nearly 39 minutes and finished with more rebounds (45-30) and assists (19-11) to offset 19 turnovers.
Down 58-40 to start the fourth quarter, the RedHawks made one last push in the final minutes and cut the deficit to 69-59 with 2:35 remaining.
However, Washington (3-3) finished the game with an 8-0 run.
Bree Calhoun had 14 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals while McKenzie Williams and Courtney Murphy each had 12 points for Seattle U, which fell to 4-4.