LAS VEGAS – After an opening round win over California Baptist, Seattle U is set to take on the number one seeded team in the tournament, the Grand Canyon Lopes. The game is set for a 5 p.m. tip off at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
LAST TIME OUT
The Redhawks are coming off a dominate performance last night against the Lancers. After going into the halftime break with a slim lead of five, SU came out of the break with one of the best defensive efforts of the season. They held CBU to 8-25 from the field in the second half and forced 15 turnovers, which they converted to 17 points. Seattle U also had a drop off of their shooting performance in the second frame, but still were a respectable 43 percent from the field and 44 from deep.
After a Ty Rowell three with 15:30 to go tied the game at 45, SU outscored the Lancers 38-21 and never gave the lead up again. Their eventual 17-point win does come as a bit of a surprise, as the last two meeting between these schools were decided by a combined four points. That is why, to this point, this has to be the most dominate performance by the Redhawks all season long.
Nate Robinson is a player that just needs minutes in order to make an impact. Unfortunately, injuries have kept him sidelined for most of his first season with the Redhawks. He finally made his way back into minutes when SU hosted the Lopes in February. Taking over for Aaron Nettles in the starting lineup, due to injury, Robinson scored a total of 10 points in back-to-back games vs GCU. In his next two games, on the road against CBU, he finally regained his flow and dropped 24 points in the series.
His hot hand was the reason we selected him as our x-factor for the opening round game vs the Lancers in the WAC Tournament. He did not disappoint.
From the tip, it was clear that #24 was feeling it. Known as a player who can knock it down from deep and drive to the cup, Robinson was in his bag all night. He finished the night with a game high 27 points on 10-17 shooting and an even more impressive 4-5 from behind the arc. No one on the CBU roster seemed like they had any success guarding him, as his 7 missed shots just seemed to be because he missed.
If the Redhawks can get even half of this type of output from Robinson, they might be the scariest team left in the tournament.
KNOW THY OPPONENT
Grand Canyon were the co-conference regular season champions with Utah Valley, and definitely earned it. They finished the season with a record of 15-6 and a WAC record of 9-3. One thing that can be said about the Lopes is that they have had a bit of a stumble over the past three regular season series. They split with CBU, Seattle U and Utah Valley in succession and it is the reason why they were not the outright regular season champions. It is hard to argue that they are playing their best ball right now.
With that being said, they still have a tremendous roster led by Asbjørn Midtgaard. The 7-foot transfer from Wichita State averaged 14 points per game to go along with 10 rebounds per, on his way to WAC Newcomer of the Year and All-WAC First team. His teammate and fellow big man, Alessandro Lever, also made the All-WAC First team while averaging 14 points on 52 percent shooting.
They will be the main focus when it comes to containment. If either one of them get into a groove, it will be hard to slow them down because of their height advantage over the Redhawk’s bigs.
GCU leads the all-time series 13-4, which includes a 6-game winning streak from 2/12/2016 – 1/5/2019. On the bright side, Seattle U has won two of the last three meetings.
In the matchup back in February, the two sides split at the Redhawk Center. Game one went to the home team as the Redhawks fought off a 24-point performance from Alessandro Lever by having four players score in double digits. Game two was all Lopes as they flipped the script and had four players score a combined 61 points which was too much for the Redhawks, despite 53 combined from Riley Grigsby and Trammell.
YOUR VIEWING PLEASURE
Tonight’s game is scheduled for a 5 p.m. tip off from the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN+ along with being on the airwaves with 770 KTTH and mynorthwest.com.
Russell is the Content Director for the Eli Network. He studied broadcast journalism at Eastern Oregon and North Dakota State University. Mostly covers soccer and basketball in the Seattle area and is the current play-by-play voice for Seattle Redhawks basketball. You can follow him @brussbrwn.