It was no anomaly that the final four teams left standing in this year's NBA playoffs -- the Heat, Spurs, Pacers and Grizzlies -- ranked among the league's top six in scoring defense during the postseason.
It was also no surprise that this year's NCAA champions -- the Louisville men and UConn women -- ranked high nationally in some key defensive stats; the Cardinals led the country in forcing turnovers, while the Huskies ranked third in scoring defense.
Offense may pay the bills at basketball's elite levels, but defense fills the trophy case.
Which makes it no coincidence that Seattle University's most impressive victory last season was also its most impressive defensive performance, a 53-37 win over UT San Antonio on March 2 at UTSA's Convocation Center.
Senior forward Chad Rasmussen and senior point guard Prince Obasi sparked the Redhawks' offense early while the defense carried SU to a 17-3 lead that set the tone for the rest of the evening. The Roadrunners only scored 11 points in the first half, going the final 9:48 before halftime without a field goal.
The second half was more of the same, as Seattle U led by as much as 24 points on its way to a rare blowout win, holding UTSA to 22.6 percent shooting from the field (12 for 53) and out-rebounding the Roadrunners 38-34.
"This was one of the best defensive efforts I have ever been around, especially in the first half," SU coach Cameron Dollar was quoted on the school's website after the game. "We executed our game plan as to how we wanted to defend them, and then we finished it off with a rebound. The credit goes to the guys -- they were focused from the start and got their hands on a lot of balls defensively."
The win avenged SU's home loss to UTSA in January, the kind of frustrating, down-to-the-wire, coulda-woulda-shoulda game that plagued the Redhawks throughout its 8-22 season. UTSA point guard Michael Hale III (a Washington native) dropped 35 points in that one, but was held to three points (1-11 FG) on this night.
Rasmussen led the Redhawks with 19 points on five three-pointers, while junior forward Clarence Trent had nine points and eight rebounds, and guards Allen Tate and D'Vonne Pickett Jr. had two steals apiece.
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