Updated Sunday, December 30, 2012 at 12:46 AM
In a matchup of former Rainier Beach backcourt teammates, Robert Harris of Idaho got hot when it mattered most.
Harris, a 6-foot junior guard who was a junior at Beach when Seattle University's D'Vonne Pickett, Jr., was a senior, spoiled Seattle's debut as a member of the Western Athletic Conference by hitting a trio of three-pointers in the final three minutes to lift Idaho to a 71-64 victory in front of 2,715 at Key Arena.
"I've got a lot of respect for him," said Pickett, who led the Redhawks (5-6, 0-1 WAC) with an SU-career-high 17 points. "I know he can play. We were just hoping tonight his shot wouldn't fall."
That was more the story for Seattle U, playing its first conference game after four seasons as a Division I independent. The Redhawks sank 4 of 17 three-pointers and just four of nine free throws during the final six minutes of the game, when they let a seven-point lead slip away.
"Give Idaho credit; they did a good job of contesting guys," said Seattle coach Cameron Dollar, whose team sank just one field goal in the final six minutes after a three-pointer from the corner by Chad Rasmussen gave SU a 56-49 lead. "The game went back-and-forth, back-and-forth. They hit shots down the end. We didn't."
While Seattle shot 44.6 percent from the floor, both Rasmussen and guard Prince Obasi each hit just one bucket from the field. Forwards Clarence Trent had 14 points and Deshaun Sunderhaus added 10.
Pickett, who scored 16 points in SU's final nonconference tuneup Dec. 22, was 8 for 12 from the field, hitting eight straight baskets before missing his final four attempts.
"We came up short executing down the stretch," Pickett said.
Seattle U, ahead 36-33 at the half, led 60-57 when Harris hit the first of his game-changing three-pointers with 2:33 to play. With 53 seconds left, Harris scored his third straight three-pointer to break a 63-63 tie and, seemingly, Seattle U's spirit.
"I just felt like I was in a rhythm, and it felt good," Harris said of his final three.
Seattle hit 10 of 15 free throws; Idaho sank 20 of 27.
"We weren't able to get to the free-throw line as much as we would have liked," Dollar said. "Overall I liked the guys' effort. We just didn't finish down the end."
The Vandals got 25 points from 6-foot-10 center Kyle Barone. Harris finished with 16 on 6-of-11 shooting, four-for-eight from beyond the arc.