SEATTLE – In its first two seasons making the transition back to Division I, Seattle made headlines with wins over Oregon State and Virginia.
The Redhawks almost added the Cavaliers to the list again Wednesday night, this time as a ranked team, only to fall short in the closing moments.
Aaron Broussard scored a career-high 29 points and Sterling Carter added 17, but Seattle couldn't complete its rally from 14 points down in the final 8 minutes, and No. 24 Virginia held on for an 83-77 victory.
Tired of underperforming for the first month of the season, Seattle finally found life and energy for more than just a few spurts. The result was Seattle's best effort of the season, but still not enough to knock off a ranked team for the first time during its move back to the top level of college hoops.
"It's good to have energy and enthusiasm and have a display like this as you're doing it, because it helps you keep going and gives you a little more buzz to keep going," Seattle coach Cameron Dollar said. "But it doesn't stop the fact that you've got to keep going."
Mike Scott scored a career-high 33 points, including 19 in the first half, as the Cavaliers (10-1) won their eighth straight and improved to 10-1 for the first time since 2000-01. They also avenged a shocking 59-53 home loss to Seattle last season.
Meanwhile, the Redhawks dropped their sixth straight, but at least left with an idea of how they want to play going forward.
"We were going to go out give our all attitude. I don't feel like we had that at the beginning of the year," Carter said. "It wasn't purposely, it's just that time where we feel like we're a better team than we've been showing."
Virginia was on its way to an easy victory after Seattle missed eight of its first nine shots to begin the second half. Scott's three-point play pulled the Cavaliers within 43-42 and Chelan, Wash.- native Joe Harris gave Virginia its first lead on a baseline leaner with 15:12 remaining.
The Cavaliers' lead continued to grow until Dollar finally snapped with 8:45 left when he walked out to midcourt yelling about Scott's rebound putback while being fouled and was quickly issued a technical foul. Scott converted one of the two free throws for the technical, then completed the three-point play to give Virginia a 14-point lead with 8:45 remaining.
The technical woke up the Redhawks and instead of Virginia coasting to an easy road win they started crumbling under Seattle's pressure.
"I feel like we panicked a little bit. I feel like we could have been more sure with the ball," Virginia's Malcolm Brogdon said.
Using an aggressive, trapping defense, Seattle scored 19 of the next 23 points following Dollar's technical, the only Virginia points coming on free throws from Harris and Brogdon.
Broussard scored nine points and Carter had eight as Seattle went back in front on Broussard's leaner with 3:29 left to take a 68-67 lead.
After a quick Virginia timeout, came the clutch plays Virginia needed. Sammy Zeglinski hit an open 3 to retake the lead, the Cavaliers first field goal in more than 5 minutes, and he added two free throws to push the lead to 72-68.
Brodgon hit four straight free throws sandwiched around Carter's 3-pointer and Broussard hit another 3 to cut the lead to 76-75 with 1:24 left. Assane Sene missed two free throws, but Clarence Trent's hook shot in the lane failed to draw rim. Brogdon added two free throws with 1:05 left and the lead was three.
Broussard failed to connect on either of two free throws, but got his own rebound and scored, only to see Virginia break Seattle's press and lead to an easy basket for Scott and an 80-77 lead with 40 seconds left. T.J. Diop missed an open jumper for Seattle and Scott hit two free throws with 33.1 seconds left. Seattle failed to get a clean look in the final 30 seconds.
"You've got to be able to handle adversity. We didn't do a great job with it but there is a point as a coach where you try and say 'We've got to get some stops, we've got to take care of the ball, we've got to come together' and either it's going to happen or it's not," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said.
Harris finished with 14 points and Brogdon added 10 for the Cavaliers.
It was the return to the state of Washington for Bennett, who previously coached at Washington State before taking the Cavaliers job. It was also a homecoming for Harris, who grew up about 175 miles east of Seattle and was largely the reason behind Virginia scheduling a home-and-home series with the Redhawks.
Harris originally committed to play for Bennett at Washington State before he left to take the job at Virginia. More than 300 residents of the small town about 3 hours east of Seattle made the trek over the Cascade mountains to see Harris, many sporting his No. 12 Cavaliers jersey.
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