It was a rare noon tip-off for the women’s basketball team on Friday, but that didn’t hinder them from rolling over Cal Poly Pomona. On the back of a strong defensive performance, SFU came away with a 68–50 win over the Broncos.
“I thought we were pretty good defensively at the start of the second half,” said head coach Bruce Langford afterwards. “I thought we were just OK defensively in the first half, but we gave them some looks and they just missed some shots. In the second half, we really shut them down in terms of having any looks.”
The game was attended by a horde of young children, and they brought some unbridled enthusiasm rarely seen in the West Gym. After a rough start where the opening tip-off led straight to three Cal Poly Pomona points, SFU played well defensively, only allowing one three-point attempt the whole half — which was missed. Senior Ellen Kett played 18 of the 20 minutes in the first half, going three for four from behind the arc with 11 points.
However, it was in the second half where SFU started to flex some muscle. They outscored the visitors 37–25, and limited the Broncos to just 33.3 percent from the field. It also featured big minutes from freshman Tayler Drynan, who played in place of Ellen Kett when she was rested.
The standout performance of the game was easily turned in by freshman Ozi Nwabuko. She finished with 19 points, with 15 of those coming in the second half. It was the third straight game she has either led or tied for the team lead in points. Langford had nothing but high praise for her afterwards.
“Ozi’s very, very good defensively. We were a little concerned that she was going to get in the way offensively,” said Langford. “But as you can witness, she’s the fastest kid I’ve ever coached by a mile. And I’ve coached some national team Olympic athletes. She is quicker than you can shake a stick at.”
Another storyline was the players who didn’t get minutes, as there could be some injury concerns going forward. Despite being seen on the bench before the game, redshirt junior Elisa Homer did not play and was not on the bench during the game. Arguably SFU’s best shooter, she is suffering from the effects of a concussion and “won’t be playing tomorrow for sure,” according to Langford. The team is hopeful she will make the trip up to Alaska next week.
“She’s the fastest kid I’ve ever coached by a mile.”
– head coach Bruce Langford on Ozi Nwabuko
Vanessa Gee injured her ankle three weeks ago, and is “ready to come to Alaska” but like Homer, will not feature in tomorrow’s game.
That game will be against Cal Poly Pomona again. With it being the second straight game against the same opponent, the key will be remaining levelheaded, according to Langford.
“We did that in the CIS [Canadian Interuniversity Sport] for years,” Langford said on playing back-to-back nights. “We use to have the CIS complex, which is the team that wins the first night loses the second night because they think they’re God’s gift to the human race, and the other team is a little pissed and comes back. So we have to make sure our kids don’t get God complex.”
With a 7–1 record to start the season, SFU looks like the team to beat in the conference. And unlike last year — where the team was at one point down to six players and mostly relied on the trio of Ellen Kett, Elisa Homer, and Alisha Roberts to drive the offence — the Clan now has a deep bench and impact freshmen such as Ozi Nwabuko, Tia Tsang, and Tayler Drynan able to get points and eat up minutes. With all these ingredients, it’s shaping up to perhaps be a memorable season for women’s basketball.