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Originally published January 5, 2010 at 8:55 PM | Page modified January 5, 2010 at 9:18 PM

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Seattle U men's basketball looks to make statement against Oregon State

It's Seattle U.'s third game against a Pac-10 opponent since beginning to make the move to Division I — the Redhawks were 0-2 last year, losing at Oregon State and Washington — and getting a win against a team in the major conference on the West Coast would unquestionably be another milestone for the Redhawks.

Seattle Times staff reporter

The mantra at Seattle University is that any win in any game is a step in the right direction in making the transition to full Division-I status.

But some steps loom as potentially larger than others, such as tonight's 5:30 p.m. game at Oregon State.

It's Seattle U.'s third game against a Pac-10 opponent since beginning to make the move to Division I — the Redhawks were 0-2 last year, losing at Oregon State and Washington — and getting a win against a team in the major conference on the West Coast would unquestionably be another milestone for the Redhawks.

"I get excited for going to play big Pac-10 teams," said senior guard Chris Gweth. "We are always going to come out and try to beat every team we play, but that one especially."

Seattle U. had something of a breakthrough win earlier this year at Utah but has not beaten a team from one of the six BCS conferences since beginning to its move back to D-I status.

"Beating a Pac-10 school definitely helps the transition," said coach Cameron Dollar. "Every game we play, every game we win, every game that we are competitive in, helps with the transition."

But this one may also hold a little more meaning not just because it's Oregon State but also because it'll be just the second game this year on live TV in the Seattle area (the game will be on FSN).

The Redhawks won the first, their home opener against Fresno State in November. They followed that with a win at Utah a week later, part of a 4-2 start.

But Seattle U has lost seven of nine since, including a 92-71 home loss to Harvard on Saturday, the team's fourth defeat in a row.

After that game, players admitted aspects of their performance had fallen off since the hot start.

"We need to just start sharing the ball more and playing together as a team the same way we were and fighting out there the same way we were," said Gweth. "We're always going to come out and play hard. But now we have to play hard and smart."

Tonight would be especially timely for Gweth, a native of Beaverton, and the lone Oregonian on the roster. Gweth knows several Beavers well, working out with Josh Tarver and Seth Tarver in the offseason and having played with Lathen Wallace on an AAU team.

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The game is the second of a three-game series agreed to by former OSU coach Jay John and former Seattle U. coach Joe Callero. The two teams will finish the contract next year with a game in Seattle. Dollar says he'd like to play a couple of Pac-10 teams every year — the Redhawks and Huskies are likely to play every year and will again on Jan. 26 at UW. But he doesn't necessarily want more than that, hoping to use the program's current Independent status to play games in as many different regions as possible.

For Oregon State, the game comes between some rugged conference contests as the Beavers were swept last weekend at UW and WSU and will play at Oregon Sunday.

It looms as an intriguing contrast in styles as Seattle U averages 80 points per game and gives up 85.1 while OSU scores 63.4 and allows 60.7. Both coaches predicted that the other team might try to alter its style tonight.

"They might try (to run more)," Dollar said. "They might just play more."

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com.

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