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Originally published December 28, 2012 at 8:27 PM | Page modified December 28, 2012 at 8:49 PM

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Seattle U men, women make WAC milestones Saturday

The Seattle University men's basketball team hosts Idaho at KeyArena at 7 p.m. Saturday while the women play at Idaho the same day in the Western Athletic Conference opener for both.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Go Redhawks! I predict that Seattle U wins the WAC championship within 3 years. MORE

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The Seattle University men's basketball team crosses another milestone as it plays its first game in the Western Athletic Conference at 7 p.m. Saturday night in KeyArena against Idaho.

The contest is the first NCAA Division I conference game in 33 years for Seattle U, which moved to Division I basketball in 2008. Since then, the Redhawks have been playing as an independent, having last played a conference game in the Division II Great Northwest Athletic Conference in the 2007-08 season.

As a member of the WAC, the Redhawks are eligible for the NCAA men's basketball tournament and will play in the WAC postseason tournament March 12-16 in Las Vegas for a shot at the conference's automatic bid.

Utah State, tabbed by the media as the preseason favorite, has so far lived up to the hype, standing at 9-1 as conference play begins.

Seattle U, meanwhile, is 5-5, having beaten Campbell 72-49 in its most recent game last Saturday.

The Redhawks are led in scoring by junior forward Clarence Trent, a UW transfer, at 10.8 points per game. Redshirt freshman Deshaun Sunderhaus is next at 10.3. Junior guard D'Vonne Pickett Jr. is coming off his best game as a Redhawk with 16 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in the win over Campbell.

Idaho (4-6) was picked fifth in the preseason media poll; Seattle U. was eighth.

The game will be broadcast on 770-AM KTTH and also televised live on ROOT Sports.

Seattle U women also open in WAC

The Seattle U women heard the same comment after nearly every game: They'll surprise teams in conference play.

SU (3-6) will have the chance beginning with its WAC opener at Idaho (3-8) on Saturday. It's SU's inaugural season as an NCAA tournament-eligible team after transitioning back to Division I status. The Redhawks were picked to finish fourth in preseason conference polls.

Seattle U appears weaker than that due to its record after a competitive nonconference schedule. But the Redhawks' losses have been by an average of 3.5 points. Two were overtime defeats.

Still, the Redhawks are deep in the pack headed into conference play where only three WAC teams have winning records.

SU is led by junior Kacie Sowell, who's tied for 17th in the nation in double-doubles, averaging 17.4 points and 9.6 rebounds. Teammate Sylvia Shephard, a junior guard, is fifth in the nation in steals (4.3).

The series is tied at three games apiece. The Redhawks defeated the Vandals 80-72 in January 2012.

Times reporter Jayda Evans contributed to this report.

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