UTRGV women’s basketball survives Seattle U, quarterfinals with late heroics

Madison Northcutt made a layup with 17.2 seconds remaining in the game to put UTRGV ahead for good and help the team advance past defending tournament champions Seattle University with a 56-54 win in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Tournament Quarterfinals on Wednesday at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

UTRGV (17-13) advances to the semifinals to face either third-seeded CSU Bakersfield or sixth-seeded Grand Canyon at 4:30 p.m. Friday. The winner of that game will play for the WAC Tournament Championship on Saturday with a chance to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Northcutt, a graduate transfer, led the team with 17 points and nine rebounds.

After Northcutt’s layup point guard, Amara Graham made a free-throw to extend the lead. Graham had 10 points and 3 assists.

Early turnover issues put second-seed UTRGV in a tough position for most of the second and third quarters.

The seventh-seeded Redhawks opened a lead that reached as many as 13 points with 3:50 to play before halftime. The Vaqueros were able to chip away at the lead and eventually closed the gap to create a tight fourth quarter thanks to an 18-3 run.

Seattle U went up by 12 early in the third before Northcutt bookended an 18-3 run with baskets to give UTRGV a 45-42 lead.

In the fourth quarter, UTRGV took an early lead but Seattle U wasn’t done with its offense, going on a 7-point run.

UTRGV led 47-45 early in the fourth quarter after a pair of Northcutt free throws, but that’s when Seattle U went on its 7-0 run to take the lead.

Then, with the score 54-49 with 2:37 remaining, Northcutt made a layup and senior Idil Türk hit two free throws to make it a one-point game.

Sampson and Graham hit threes and Northcutt hit a pair of layups as UTRGV took an early 10-6 lead.

UTRGV still had the lead at 16-13 on a layup by junior Megan Johnson with 1:47 left in the first, but Seattle U responded with a 12-0 run to go up 25-16.

Senior Krisynthia Sampson pitched in 13 points and made three of UTRGV’s six 3-pointers along with eight rebounds.

Seattle U was led by Kamira Sanders, who scored 17 points.

nmata@themonitor.com