Seattle U
Riley Grigsby and Seattle U face arguably their toughest test of the 2022-23 season on Thursday afternoon in Hawaii. Courtesy Sarah Finney/Seattle U Athletics

MBB: Seattle U Has Big Test in Hawaii, Other Non-Con Games

For most teams around the WAC, Thursday marks the end of the non-conference slate. But, for the Seattle U Redhawks, the Christmas weekend is just ramping up.

The Redhawks will take on Utah State in the first round of the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii on Thursday evening. It is a Quad 1 opportunity for Seattle U at the Sheriff Center. And for a team sitting in second in the WAC resume seeding system, and 118 in the NET, a Thursday evening win would be a huge boost to the resume.

In its biggest games of the 2022-23 season, Seattle U has gotten off to a good start in the first half. But, in the second half of those games, the Redhawks have struggled. Just look at the road games at Washington and Oregon State.

Against Washington, Seattle U led 40-38 at the break. And, out of the halftime break, Seattle U extended its lead to eight with a little over 17 minutes to play. But, then the Redhawks went ice cold in an 11-point loss to the Huskies.

At Oregon State, similar story. Seattle U led 28-25 at the break. And, out of the halftime locker room, led 36-28 after a Brandton Chatfield dunk with 16:42 to play. Then, the wheels came off for Seattle U as Oregon State ran to a 73-58 win.

Utah State is coming off a really bad home loss to Weber State on Monday, its first of the season. The 9-1 Aggies already have wins over fellow WAC schools, Utah Valley and Utah Tech. Taylor Funk, Sean Bairstow, and Max Shulga create quite the trio, especially offensively. Seattle U will counter with Cam Tyson, Riley Grigsby and a pair of guards in Paris Dawson and Alex Schumacher.

This should be a high-scoring affair at the Sheriff Center on Thursday evening. And Seattle U gets a chance to show it is for real on national television. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU. Tip is set for 2:30 p.m. PT.

Jackson State at Stephen F. Austin – 2 p.m. CT ESPN+

There are two outcomes SFA wants to see in its final non-conference game. First, get a win. A home loss to Jackson State who is 319 in the NET would not be good. Second, stay healthy.

As we have seen, the Jacks are beat up. Kyle Keller hasn’t been able to field a full squad all season. Jaylin Jackson-Posey has a broken hand. Jalil Beaubrun is still recovering from a broken foot. And so many more. So, get a win and stay healthy. Those are the keys for the Jacks on Wednesday afternoon at The Sawmill.

Lindenwood at Utah Tech – 1 p.m. MT ESPN+

After a brutal November and early December, Utah Tech has had it easy over the past two weeks. The Trailblazers have won four straight, including three over non-Division I opponents. And now, the Trailblazers will host the newest member of the Division I ranks, Lindenwood on Thursday afternoon.

Cam Gooden, Tanner Christensen, Isaiah Pope and company should be able to roll into WAC play with five straight wins.

New Mexico State vs. North Carolina A&T – 5:30 p.m. MT

Thursday is the final non-conference game for the Aggies. And, for all intents and purposes, it is a big one. Aggie fans weren’t happy with the loss to Kent State on Wednesday. It makes sense considering how much the Aggies have won over the years. But, New Mexico State is still trying to figure out how to play together with an entirely new roster.

The biggest issue is the inconsistency of role players. Deshawndre Washington and Xavier Pinson have been really good lately. Issa Muhammad has played well. Quayè Gordon has been solid. But, after that, it’s hit or miss.

Perhaps a game against a sub-250 NET opponent can right that ship heading into WAC play. The Aggies need to find some rhythm as they open league play against two of the best teams in the WAC in Southern Utah and Sam Houston.

Portland State at California Baptist – 7 p.m. PT ESPN+

It is the final tune-up for the California Baptist Lancers on Thursday evening at the CBU Events Center. Rick Croy’s crew is 8-4 and coming off back-to-back wins, one of which was a road win at San Diego two weeks ago. On Sunday, the Lancers played their only non-Division I game against Sonoma State. And the Lancers didn’t necessarily looked too locked in. Taran Armstrong had zero points in the 88-67 win.

The good news for the Lancers, though, is that they are scoring points. At San Diego, CBU scored 76 points. Against Sonoma State, CBU put up 88 points. Can the Lancers keep the momentum going on Thursday night? It is an opportunity to clean things up, get a win and get ready for a brutal road trip to open WAC play one week from Thursday at Grand Canyon.

About the author

Kyle McDonald

Love everything about WAC Hoops so decided I wanted to write more about it and cover this amazing conference that just keeps getting better. Follow us on Twitter @wachoopsdigest for information, game analysis and much more.

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