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Originally published Friday, November 23, 2012 at 10:32 PM

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Shephard the hero as Seattle U triumphs

With leading scorer out, team needed lift

Seattle Times staff reporter

Saturday

Sacred Heart @ Seattle University, 8 p.m.

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The frustration was easy to spot.

After getting called for a foul, Seattle University junior Ashley Ward slammed the basketball to the court, drawing a technical. Later, she was called for her second technical after swinging her elbow toward the head of a Portland opponent in a loose-ball scramble.

Automatically ejected, Ward, the team's leading scorer at 19.3 points a game, headed to the locker room. Her Redhawks were in the midst of being picked apart in their annual Thanksgiving Tournament.

Then teammate Sylvia Shephard emerged to boost Seattle U to a 63-61 victory at the Connolly Center on Friday.

"We had to come together as a team and take her place," said Shephard, who scored 14 of her team-high 21 points in the second half and also finished the game with eight rebounds and seven assists.

Shephard, a junior guard, scored 10 consecutive points and set up teammate Taelor Ross inside the paint for a bucket to put the Redhawks up 56-51 with 4:48 remaining in the game.

The Pilots hung within a bucket while attempting to regain the lead, but Shephard's steal and long pass to teammate Daidra Brown gave SU a 62-57 advantage with 1:43 left in the game.

Down the stretch, Seattle U made just one of three free throws, yet forced two key turnovers in the waning seconds to keep Portland from winning.

Seattle U (1-3) plays Sacred Heart (3-2) Saturday at 8 p.m. for the championship. The Redhawks haven't won its tournament since its inception in 2010. Portland (1-4) plays Boston College (3-2) for third place at 6 p.m.

"Sylvia really took over the game," said SU coach Joan Bonvicini.

Bonvicini said she won't bench Ward for the game Saturday. "Ashley's a good kid and she'll learn from this, but I'm really proud of how our kids came together."

The Redhawks were down 43-41 when Ward was ejected with 10:57 left. SU took time to collect itself, letting the deficit grow to 49-43 before Shephard re-energized her team with a pair of three-pointers and steals that quickly turned into layups.

Seattle U entered the tournament on a three-game losing streak by a combined six points. The close defeats made the team antsy to record its first victory.

But the Redhawks went nine minutes without a field goal in the first half to lose a 14-point lead. Ward had five of her team's 13 turnovers in the first half.

"My thing is to show poise and control and you learn from this," Bonvicini said. "We won and we just want to build on this."

NOTE

• Former Lakeside High standout Morgan Merriman led Sacred Heart to a 54-48 victory against Boston College (3-2) in the opening game. Merriman, a senior forward, scored a career-high 22 points with six rebounds and two blocks. The Pioneers (3-2) closed with a 6-0 run for the victory.

Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or jevans@seattletimes.com.

PORTLAND (1-4) — Thompson 7-11 1-2 15, Pupa 3-4 0-0 6, Nurmi 1-5 0-0 3, Luttinen 5-13 1-6 11, Wooton 5-7 6-9 17, Holopainen 3-8 0-1 8, Boettcher 0-0 0-0 0, Johnson 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 24-29 9-20 61.

SEATTLE (1-3) — Ward 0-3 6-7 6, Adhiambo 4-9 0-0 8, Sowell 7-13 5-8 19, Shephard 9-21 1-2 21, McCarthy 0-4 0-1 0, Clark 0-0 0-0 0, Dillard-Brown 1-2 0-0 2, Brown 1-8 1-2 3, Ross 2-3 0-0 4, Stoffel 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-63 13-20 63.

Halftime — Seattle 29-28. Three-point goals — Portland 4-17 (Nurmi 1-4, Luttinen 0-4, Wooton 1-3, Holopainen 2-5, Johnson 0-1), Seattle 2-12 (Shephard 2-7, McCarthy 0-4, Brown 0-1). Fouled out — None. Rebounds — Portland 32 (Pupa 7), Seattle 41 (Adhiambo, Shephard 8). Assists — Portland 13 (Wooton 4), Seattle 16 (Shephard 7). Total fouls — Portland 19, Seattle 18. Technicals — Holopainen, Ward. A — 462.

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