In a result few people – if anyone – saw coming, the Seattle University men’s basketball team had its best shooting night of the season and played outstanding defense in pulling off a shocking upset, defeating Virginia 59-53 in front of 8,679 fans at John Paul Jones Arena in Virginia Wednesday.
The victory came out of nowhere for a Redhawks team that was winless in seven road games this season and was playing in front of a large crowd, on the other side of the country, against a team that plays in a power conference (the Atlantic Coast Conference) and had won six of its last seven.
But none of that mattered Wednesday, as Seattle shot a season-best 50 percent from the field, outrebounded the Cavaliers and got 19 points from Sterling Carter and a double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds) from Aaroun Broussard.
“I am really excited for how our guys compete and played throughout the night,” SU coach Cameron Dollar said. “It’s special to go into an ACC venue and come out with a win. It’s always good fur us to have external symbols that we are moving forward.”
While the offense did its part, it was the defense that really stood out for the Redhawks. Playing against Virginia coach Tony Bennett’s slow, methodical offense, SU (5-10) held Virginia (8-4) to 30 percent shooting and the Cavaliers were just 2-for-20 on 3-pointers. Even the surprise appearance by Virginia star Mike Scott – who had surgery on his ankle six days ago – didn’t help. Scott finished with 12 points and eight rebounds in 31 minutes.
The Redhawks started hot, going on a 9-0 run that included five points by Carter to take a lead just four minutes in. At 12-8, the Redhawks used an 8-2 run to extend the lead to 20-10 with under 10 minutes to play in the half and Seattle went into the locker room ahead 30-23.
With 12 minutes to go in the game, Broussard buried a 3-pointer to start a 6-0 spurt that gave the Redhawks a 50-35 lead with just under nine minutes to go. Defensively, Seattle U held Virginia without a field goal for 7 1/2 minutes, remarkable given that the Cavaliers were playing on their home court.
A pair of Scott free throws started Virginia’s comeback and a 9-0 run that included a jump shot by KT Harrell and back-to-back layups by Scott made it 54-48. A putback by SU reserve Brandon Durham stopped the run and the Cavaliers missed 11 of their last 12 field goal attempts over the final three minutes.
Durham and Cervante Burrell – who came off the bench for a third-straight game – each had eight points for the Redhawks, who committed just 14 turnovers. Seattle also outscored Virginia 30-14 in the paint despite the fact that starting center Alex Jones fouled out in just 11 minutes of playing time.
Harrell scored 16 points off the bench for Virginia but the Cavaliers got just 21 points on 6-for-29 shooting from their starters.
The Redhawks will have to wait to see if they can carry the momentum of perhaps the biggest win for the program since it moved back up to NCAA Division I three years ago. Seattle U won’t play against until Jan. 2 when it travels to Malibu, Calif. to meet Pepperdine. The next SU home game is Jan. 6 against Eastern Washington.