Updated Friday, February 1, 2013 at 01:31 AM
To get to the finish line first Thursday night, the Seattle University Redhawks decided that maybe the best approach would be to slow things down.
And on this night, anyway, patience proved prescient as the Redhawks overcame a ragged first half to beat the San Jose State Spartans 56-48 in front of 2,052 at KeyArena.
The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Redhawks, now 7-13 and 2-8 in Western Athletic Conference play. Seattle U had lost eight of nine overall and hadn't won at home since a Dec. 22 victory over Campbell.
In many of the games, the Redhawks had led late before ultimately falling short — four of their last six defeats had come by five points or less.
"It was big to just get over that hump," said Seattle University coach Cameron Dollar.
And the key, he felt, was the Redhawks staying in a little more control than in some of their other games.
"Just making sure we took our time and getting a good shot," he said.
That was difficult for each side to do in the first half as each team shot 29 percent, a half that ended with the Spartans leading 22-20. The pace of the game was in stark contrast to some others the Redhawks have played of late due to the style of San Jose State, and Dollar felt his team had trouble adjusting early.
But in the second half, the Redhawks caught on to slowing down, and made 13 of 26 field goals in gradually pulling away.
A layin by Prince Obasi gave the Redhawks a 41-31 lead with 7:43 left and the Spartans never got closer than seven the rest of the way.
Obasi led the way with a career-high 19 points while senior center Louis Green had 13, including six in a span of 1:34 late in the game to put it away.
Green had to play more extended minutes after starting forward Deshaun Sunderhaus left after four minutes with a sprained ankle. Dollar said he should be fine for Saturday's 7 p.m. game against Utah State.
The loss was the sixth in a row for the Spartans, who fell to 9-12 overall and 3-7 in what is their final season in the WAC before moving on to the Mountain West Conference.
The opponent hardly mattered to the Redhawks on this night, though, after dispiriting losses last weekend at home to Texas State and University of Texas-San Antonio.
"We want to build some confidence before we go to (Las) Vegas (for the WAC tournament March 12-16)," said Obasi.
Obasi will be a key in that effort. He's in his second year after transferring from Saddleback Community College in Mission Viejo, Calif. He made 6 of 13 shots and also had a team-high four assists and just two turnovers in 36 minutes.
"He's been developing into our rock," Dollar said. "We just put the ball in his hands down the stretch."
Obasi, who came into the game averaging 8.5 points, said he'd been getting down on himself too much in recent outings.
"I just had to relax and not try to go 100 miles per hour and trying to score (every possession)," he said.
The game was the start of the second half of WAC play for the Redhawks. Soon, though, they will become road hawks, with just two more games at KeyArena after Saturday.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @bcondotta.