UTRGV women’s basketball pushes past Seattle for first WAC win

Graphic via UTRGV Athletics.

Sophomore Charlotte O’Keefe had a career night Thursday to lead the UTRGV women’s basketball team to an 84-77 victory over the Seattle Redhawks at the Redhawk Center in Seattle, Washington, earning the team’s first Western Athletic Conference (WAC) win.

O’Keefe grabbed a career high 21 rebounds – the third most rebounds in a single game in program history and the most by a Vaquero since 2015. She also scored a career high 15 points, shooting 60% from the field, and had two blocks.

Junior Arianna Sturdivant and senior Mele Kailahi scored 14 points each and both knocked down three 3-pointers as UTRGV (2-12, 1-4 WAC) finished the night with 10 buckets from behind the arc. Juniors Iyana Dorsey and Kade Hackerott scored nine points each.

Seattle U (1-13, 1-4 WAC) was led by Makayla Moore’s 23 points. Asta Blauenfeldt and Mya Moore scored 15 each while Iren Korolenko added 12. Mya Moore had 11 rebounds and four blocks.

Seattle U hit the first two buckets of the contest, but freshman Jayda Holiman answered with a pair of baskets, including a 3-pointer, to put the Vaqueros on top, 5-4. But the Redhawks controlled the majority of the opening quarter, growing a double-digit lead. The Vaqueros went on a 5-0 run late in the frame sparked by a three-pointer from Sturdivant to get within five, but the Redhawks answered and led 24-15 at the end of the quarter.

The second quarter started physical and fast, leading to a little bit of sloppy play from both squads. After falling behind 35-22, UTRGV made a string of free throws, then Kailahi got hot from behind the arc and cut the deficit to 36-32 at half after knocking down a buzzer-beating three.

UTRGV made six 3-pointers in the third quarter, getting big buckets from four different Vaqueros. O’Keefe played well down low to slow Seattle U’s bigs down and finish layups. The Vaqueros went on a run aided by solid defense to hold off the pesky Redhawks and used great ball movement to hold a 58-55 lead at the end of the quarter, leading by as many as seven points.

Moore powered Seattle U back into the game, putting the Redhawks on top 63-60 early in the fourth quarter after a layup. UTRGV buckled down and tied the contest at 64-64 off a layup from Hackerott.

O’Keefe’s massive game got even better down the stretch. She pulled in rebounds like a magnet, finished strong in the paint and knocked down jumpers. UTRGV also made its way to the free throw line often and converted the opportunities, growing the lead to 76-66 after an 8-0 run backed by six made free throws.

With Seattle U forced to foul to stop the clock playing from behind late, UTRGV continued to shoot well from the charity stripe to put the game away. The Vaqueros finished 22-for-30 from the stripe.

UTRGV will be back in action at 1 p.m. Saturday (CT) at Utah Valley.