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Redhawks end Vandals’ season

Jim Hoehn Special to The Spokesman-Review

SEATTLE – In the span of about three minutes, Brendan Westendorf all but put an end to the Vandals’ first postseason appearance since 2012, as well as their season.

Westendorf scored 10 points to fuel a 15-4 run that gave Seattle at 10-point lead with 2:44 remaining and the Redhawks held on for a 68-63 victory over Idaho on Wednesday night in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational Tournament.

“We lost him once or twice, I thought they did a good job of executing their offense, getting him the basketball and he did a good job of knocking them down,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said.

Idaho (21-13) took a 43-42 lead on Arkadiy Mkrtychyan’s free-throw-line jumper with 6:32 left, but that’s when Westendorf took over.

Zack Moore hit a 3-pointer to put the Redhawks up 45-43 and Westendorf then scored 10 of Seattle’s next 12 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. His jumper from the left wing put Seattle up 57-47.

Victor Sanders was fouled on a 3-point attempt and hit all three free throws to pull Idaho within 59-52 with 1:28 remaining. The Redhawks made 9 of 12 free throws to keep the lead at 68-60 with 50 seconds left. Perrion Callandret, from nearby Bothell, hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

“We went to foul a couple guys who were low (percentage) free-throw shooters and we’ve got to give them credit, they stepped up and made them,” Verlin said.

Westendorf, who had two points in the first half on 1-of-7 shooting, was 7 for 7 in the second half – including 4 of 4 from beyond the arc, for a game-high 21 points, along with 11 rebounds. Jadon Cohee added 18 points for Seattle (15-16), which advances to the quarterfinals at home on Monday night against Vermont.

Callandret had 18 points and Mkrytchyan added 15 for Idaho, which lost in the Big Sky semifinals to Montana.

“Just like we were in the league together, it was like a middleweight fight,” Seattle coach Cameron Dollar said of the former WAC rivals. “It just keeps going back and forth. I was joking with coach Verlin before the game that I hate playing against them, and I love playing against them because of the challenge they always present.”

The Vandals staggered through a sloppy 19-point first half, trailing 22-19 by allowing Seattle to close the half with an 8-1 run.

Idaho took an early 9-4 lead with 12:05 left, but did not score again until Ty Egbert’s basket down low with 6:45 remaining that pulled the Vandals within 12-11.

The Vandals made just 7 of 23 shots for 30.4 percent in the first half, and were just 1 of 7 from 3-point range. They also committed seven turnovers and were outrebounded 21-12.

Seattle wasn’t much better, making 8 of 23 shots, but was 4 of 8 from beyond the arc, along with 11 turnovers.

“I thought it was big to close the half well,” Dollar said. “It looked like one team that’s in finals week and one team that’s been on the road for 10 days. That’s what it looked like to me. “

“But then both teams came out and kind of played more representative of how we normally are,” he said. “I thought it was a really good game in the second half.”

The Redhawks, who usually play at Key Arena, were playing for the first time in the newly renovated, on-campus Connolly Center, with a capacity of 999.

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