Sometimes, there are games a team just shouldn’t win. Other times, there are games the team should just run away with. For the Clan, their Thursday evening game against the St. Martin’s Saints was definitely the latter. The Clan were fighting for third place in the GNAC, while the Saints were floundering at just 2–9 on the season. But as we learned last week, there’s a reason the teams actually play the games.
The Clan lost a very winnable game to Western Washington last Saturday, and the 70–61 defeat was the Clan’s first home loss of the season. A win against the Vikings would’ve propelled SFU into the second seed in the GNAC standings, and in the current playoff format, the conference’s top two teams earn first round byes. The loss, however, dropped the Clan into the fifth spot and to the edges of playoff contention. With that in mind, the Clan weren’t taking anything for granted against St. Martin’s.
“We had a huge sour taste in our mouths,” said sophomore Chelsea Reist of their loss to Western Washington. Thursday’s game against St. Martin’s was much sweeter.
The Clan came out flying early, and Reist led the charge, starting the game hitting all of her first six shots. She in particular seemed to take the Western Washington loss personally.
“I sure did,” she laughed. “We didn’t play at all like we should have, not at all like our potential. Before [this] game we talked about it, how we needed to come out and win this
one for everyone to believe in us again.”
The game was over early, and the eventual 79–48 victory will go a long way to restoring that confidence.
Reist was a force inside early, and gave the Clan an early lead that they would not give up for the duration of the game. Between her and fellow 6-foot-2 forward Nay Raincock-Ekunwe, the Clan put together an attack that the Saints had no answer to. Reist scored most of her points early, while Raincock-Ekunwe steadily built her way to a double-double — something becoming almost commonplace with her — finishing with 23 points and 10 rebounds.
“It was awesome today,” said Reist of they play of Raincock-Ekunwe and herself inside. “That’s probably the best we’ve been . . . I’d really like to keep that going.”
Understandable. The duo’s down-low prowess opened up the deep ball for ace Kristina Collins, who scored all 12 of her points from beyond the arc. Add the Clan’s ridiculously deep bench, and SFU easily disposed of struggling St. Martin’s — just as it should’ve been. In a playoff race as tight as theirs, every game matters, and no games can be taken for granted.
Alaska Anchorage is comfortably in first place, but the three teams directly in front of the Clan all won on Thursday as well. Western Washington sits in second at 8–3, while the Clan, still in fifth, improved to 7–4 with the victory. Needless to say, it’s a close race.
“Everything’s so tight,” said second-year guard Marie-Line Petit. “We could’ve been second, but we dropped a couple games we shouldn’t have, and now we’re in fifth. Each game can hurt us bad if we lose it.”
Only six teams make the playoffs, and the Clan only one spot away from that dividing line. That said, they’re still just one win away from second place and that valuable bye. With their confidence restored and knowing they can take nothing for granted, the Clan could be back on their way up the standings.