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Originally published March 14, 2014 at 6:32 PM | Page modified March 15, 2014 at 3:26 PM

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Seattle University women pull upset to reach finals of WAC tournament

Redhawks get 20 points and 12 rebounds from Kacie Sowell on Friday, beating Cal State Bakersfield, 84-79, in Las Vegas. Seattle U will play Idaho at 1 p.m. Saturday for the title and a spot in the NCAA tournament.

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LAS VEGAS – Shooting 56 percent from the field, the Seattle University women’s basketball team is just one victory from the NCAA tournament after an 84-79 victory over Cal State Bakersfield on Friday.

The Redhawks (16-15) meet Idaho (24-8) in the title game of the Western Athletic Conference tournament at 1 p.m. Saturday in Orleans Arena in a game to be televised on ESPNU. Idaho was a 75-65 winner over New Mexico State in its semifinal game Friday.

A victory Saturday would give the Redhawks their first trip to the NCAA Division I tournament.

Bakersfield (19-11) was held to 42.7 percent shooting. Bakersfield was just 3 of 21 from three-point range. Seattle also had a 37-24 rebound edge.

“This was a hard-fought game,” said Seattle U coach Joan Bonvicini. “For us, we just wanted this win, and our defense and rebounding, particularly from Wilma (Afunugo) and Kacie (Sowell), was instrumental. We got really good production from our bench.”

Sowell topped the Redhawks with 20 points and 12 rebounds. She went 10 for 14 from the floor. Afunugo and Ashley Ward each scored 15 points.

Seattle U led 67-59 with seven minutes left. The Roadrunners cut the lead to four points three different times in the next three minutes, but a layup and pair of free throws by Sylvia Shephard put the Redhawks up by eight again at 75-67 with three minutes remaining. The Redhawks made 7 of 10 free throws in the final three minutes.

The Redhawks were able to overcome a tough one-two punch from the Roadrunners as Melissa Sweat had 29 points and eight rebounds and Tyonna Outland added 24 points and five rebounds.

“Outland is a terrific athlete and scorer,” Bonvicini said.

The title game Saturday will be a rematch of the 2013 final, when Idaho beat Seattle U 67-64. Last year, Seattle U was the No. 1 seed, a role Idaho enjoys this year.

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