Originally published November 10, 2011 at 8:03 PM | Page modified November 11, 2011 at 12:31 PM

Seattle U. senior Talisa Rhea hopes to make most of new start with Redhawks

Talisa Rhea was Oregon State's leading scorer in the 2009-10 season, an All-Pac-10 honorable mention selection. She sat out last season after transferring to Seattle U.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Schedule highlights

• The Redhawks, who lost by five points to Washington in 2009, get another shot at the Huskies on Wednesday at Edmundson Pavilion.

• Bonvicini will host her former program, Long Beach State, on Dec. 2. She led the 49ers to two NCAA Final Fours in the 1980s.

• Seattle U will play at Stanford on Feb. 29. The schools have never met.

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Two years ago, the Oregon State women's basketball program was entangled in turmoil. There were reports of coach LaVonda Wagner involving verbal abuse and antics like throwing chairs. Players began transferring, and Wagner was eventually replaced.

Seattle University senior Talisa Rhea was one of those who left, and she'll begin anew Friday as her team opens the season against UC Santa Barbara at Connolly Center. The Redhawks' aim is postseason play after finishing 8-22 last season.

Rhea wears a broad smile as co-captain of a team looking for her to help it be successful. It's a stark change from her time in Corvallis, Ore.

"I've never heard Talisa cry, and she was crying," said first-year Seattle U assistant coach Dorena Bingham, of a phone call she received before Rhea decided to leave Oregon State. Natives of Alaska, Bingham had coached Rhea since she was a shy 14-year-old.

"She said, 'I gotta get out of here. I don't know what to do,' " Bingham continued. "She broke down and told me some of the stuff, and I had no idea it was as bad as it was ... because Talisa doesn't complain."

Before committing to OSU out of Juneau-Douglas High School, Rhea visited Arizona when current SU coach Joan Bonvicini was there. Joining Bonvicini in Seattle was a natural fit. Bingham, who was added to the coaching staff last summer, was a bonus for Rhea. Bingham was previously USA Basketball U17 women's assistant coach and leader of the Team Alaska AAU team.

Rhea left the Beavers as their leading scorer, averaging 15.3 points and 3.6 rebounds in 2009-10 to earn All-Pac-10 honorable-mention honors. She sat out last season after transferring.

"I'm appreciative of my time there (at Oregon State), but I'm on to being here and being present with this team and coaching staff," Rhea said. "It's a fresh start and it's fun to be out playing again. It's just going to take a little bit of time to get comfortable."

In the final stage of transitioning back to Division I play, Seattle U has its most competitive roster. Rhea can score, and Kenyan sophomore transfer Brenda Adhiambo has an eye for rebounds and a soft touch under the hoop. Making it all run are veteran guards Elle Kerfoot, a senior co-captain, and junior Daidra Brown.

But Rhea is a focal point. She understands what it's like to face a team like Stanford, or to defeat Washington, which Oregon State did in the 2010 Pac-10 tournament.

"Her leadership and ability alone is going to help us tremendously," Kerfoot said.


• Thursday, the Redhawks signed three players to letters of intent: Catherine "Cat" Perez, a 6-1 guard/forward from Palo Alto, Calif.; Taelor Ross, a 6-2 forward from Saint Mary's Academy in Portland; and Kristin Stoffel, a 6-foot guard/forward from Jackson High School in Mill Creek. Ross' brother is UW men's player Terrence Ross.

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