KENT – Myles Carter atoned for an egregious mistake in the final seconds with a block along the baseline that saved him from embarrassment and secured a 73-71 comeback victory over Portland on Saturday, the fourth straight win for Seattle University.
“We certainly made the final 45 seconds a lot harder than we had to,” Redhawks coach Jim Hayford said, smiling.
That’s an understatement.
Seattle U (6-5), which trailed 63-60 with 4:49 left, seemed to put the game away with an 11-2 run over the next four minutes.
The spurt began with senior guard Delante Jones sinking a layup and then burying a three-pointer at the four-minute mark that put the Redhawks on top for good.
“I was just glad that I could make it,” said Jones, who canned a career-high-tying four three-pointers and finished with 16 points. “I’m glad my teammates trusted me with it.
“I’ve been working real hard so I was glad I could do something for my teammates. It definitely gave us a lot of momentum. It was a big-time shot.”
After Morgan Means’ free throw pushed SU’s lead to 71-65 with 28 seconds left, the Redhawks looked as if they could breathe easy.
However, the final 28 seconds lasted about 15 minutes in real time and seemed like an eternity to the Redhawks and SU fans at the ShoWare Center.
“It definitely was the longest minute of our season so far for sure,” said Means, who had 18 points, including three three-pointers. “A little hectic.
“Every single time we had a huddle or a free throw, we kept talking about let’s finish. Some of the shots didn’t go in, but we never lost that faith and that was a good testament to us staying together.”
Portland needed just 13 seconds for a 5-1 run that included a three-pointer and a dunk, which cut SU’s lead to 72-70.
Terrell Brown was sensational for most of the night with 20 points and 10 rebounds – both game highs. However, the junior guard missed two free throws with 13.7 seconds left.
On Brown’s second miss, Carter fouled Isaiah White while trying to grab a rebound and sent the Pilots guard to the line with a chance to tie.
White made the first free throw and missed the second, which Carter grabbed before he was fouled.
At the other end, Carter missed his first throw and canned the second to give SU a precarious two-point lead.
Portland had just 12.8 seconds to tie or take the lead when junior guard JoJo Walker drove along the baseline near the Pilots bench for a short jumper. Carter timed his jump perfectly and blocked the shot out of bounds.
The Pilots had one more chance, but White’s shot was off the mark, which allowed the Redhawks – and Carter — to finally exhale and celebrate.
White finished with 18 points while Tahirou Diabate and Jacob Tryon each had 10 for Portland (6-3).
“Myles had a tough night, but when it came down to the last five minutes he said I’m going to defensively anchor our team,” Hayford said about Carter, who finished with six points and seven rebounds. “And that’s exactly what he did. That was a tough offensive rebound foul call. Fortunately they didn’t make both free throws. And then him making the one free throw gave us a margin so he came up big.”
The Redhawks led for over 33 minutes, but they were fortunate to win considering their mistakes at the end and their 56.5% (13 of 23) free-throw shooting.
However, Seattle U won the rebounding battle 42-32 and benefitted from Portland’s shoddy free-throw shooting (16 of 28).
Seattle U has a 10-day layoff before its Dec. 17 game at Washington.
“That seems like a long time from now and fortunately it is,” Hayford said, noting a 10-day stretch when SU went 1-3 in road games before returning home for two wins. “These guys were road weary. … And took care of business at home.
“It’ll be great to go play that game. That’s a top-25 team.”