After Tuesday night’s emotional loss, SFU was looking for a way to bounce back and show that they were still a dominant team in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC). They found the perfect tonic in the Montana State University Billings. In a performance typical of the season thus far, the Clan got solid performances up and down the lineup to win 86–72.
“I thought some things were very good,” said head coach Bruce Langford after the game. “[Rachel] Fradgley was efficient, I thought that [Ellen] Kett was efficient, [and] I thought that we were resilient. They had some runs at us, and we maintained our composure and came back.”
The first quarter was a tight affair. SFU, frankly, missed some easy baskets, which allowed Montana State to take a three point lead. However, back-to-back threes by freshman Tia Tsang meant the Clan were up by two by the end of it. They were able to extend that lead to nine by the end of the half — Ellen Kett hit a clutch corner three, and also dished it out to Meg Wilson inside for an easy two points. SFU showed some resilience in the second half, battling back from two Montana State surges to eventually take the game by 14.
The dominant player throughout the game was easily Meg Wilson. Recording her second straight double-double, she finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, and three steals in a type of performance that is starting to become commonplace.
“She has a lot of weapons,” said Langford on what makes Wilson such a dominant player. “She can shoot the three, drive and finish inside tight, she rebounds well, [and] she usually gets a steal and a breakaway layup every now and again, which makes things easy for us. She’s got a great diverse skillset that allows her to have success.”
Another standout performance came from Division I transfer Tayla Jackson. Although she only recorded eight points, those all came in the final 3:05 of the game where she showed off what could make her a dominant force in the future — and perhaps making the case for more playing time.
“I thought that we were resilient. They had some runs at us, and we maintained our composure and came back.”
“Hopefully it will help her upside,” commented Langford. “She’s struggled a little bit with some things, and she had a lucky bounce that went in beautifully, and then she had two or three moves in a row that got stopped.
“I think she got frustrated, but then she had things go her way for a little bit. She had a nice drop step that open from a nice pass, and so I’m sure that’s going to help a little bit with her confidence.”
Ellen Kett once again led SFU in minutes played with 35, and finished with 13 points and seven assists. Rachel Fradgley finished with 15 points and three rebounds. Ozi Nwabuko rounded out the double-digit SFU players, finishing with 12 points and three rebounds.
Next Games: SFU now are on a bit of a break, as they don’t play until next Thursday against Concordia University. SFU has already beaten Concordia this year, winning convincingly 80–58 on the back of Ozi Nwabuko’s 18 points. They’re currently seventh in the GNAC with a 3–6 conference record, but things could be different this time around. Of their six overall wins this year, four of them have come at home. They’re also third in the conference in three-point percentage. Despite that, it should be a fairly winnable game.
After that, it’s off to Western Oregon on Saturday. SFU has beaten them already this year 71–57. Similarly to Concordia, they’re a lot better at home — they’re 5–3 compared to their 1–6 away record. They currently sit in tenth place in the GNAC and are in the bottom half in pretty much every category, including turnover margin — meaning they give up the ball a lot more than they take it away from the opposition.
Like the last time these two teams met, the key will be to try and limit Shelby Snook’s opportunities — she’s currently fifth in conference scoring, averaging just over 16 points per game. When these two teams played last, SFU was able to do just that, as Snook had only six points in 33 minutes, of which five came in the first half. Ozi Nwabuko was tasked to shut her down, and she did so brilliantly. If SFU can repeat that gameplan, they should have no problem winning this one.
Both games start at 7 p.m.