It was a game that truly could have gone either way.
But early on, it looked like SFU would win in comfortable fashion, like many of their games so far this season. Late in the second quarter, the Clan had a 13 point lead against a Seattle Pacific team that came into this game nationally ranked and had only lost one game all season. The Falcons cut the lead to nine by the end of the first half — by the end of the third quarter, it was tied at 51.
“Basically he looked us all in the eye and said ‘do you really want this?’” said senior point guard Ellen Kett — who had another terrific game — on what was said to the team before the fourth quarter. “He said this is it, this is the time, this is what we play for. Dig deep and we can do this.”
“I thought we didn’t let what happened in the second and third quarter get to us,” commented head coach Bruce Langford on what changed in the last quarter. “We dug a little deeper and we tried to communicate a little bit better, and tried to talk about how important some fire in our belly was, because they were really out-working us.”
“We had to get back to team defence. You can’t just play hard, you have to play smart.”
– head coach Bruce Langford
SFU came out flying to start, with redshirt junior Elisa Homer getting the Clan’s first points of the contest. It even featured good performances from bench players such as Samantha Beauchamp.
But to begin the second half, Seattle Pacific seemed like they couldn’t miss a shot, while SFU couldn’t make any. If the visitors didn’t make their shots, they were drawing fouls and going to the line. The Falcons came out flying, putting up 23 points to take the lead by, at one point during the quarter, four points before SFU tied it up to end the third.
“We were making mistakes and we were paying for it,” said Langford on the first three quarters. “We had to get back to team defence. You can’t just play hard, you have to play smart.”
SFU was able to put up 20 points in the fourth quarter, of which Kett got 10 and assisted on six others. It was another great performance from Kett, who led the team in points with 23 and minutes played with a recorded 39 — although it appears she was subbed out for more than one minute in the third quarter. The 71 points SFU scored was only the second time this season Seattle Pacific has let in more than 70.
And not only did SFU put up the points, they played great defence as well — they didn’t allow a single Falcons basket for the last 5:08 of the game.
“They’re really in your face out on the perimeter,” said Kett on a tough Seattle Pacific defence. “They deny the lane, so I think we had great success pressure releasing, back cutting, [and] looking for different options off our set play.”
“I think we have some versatility in our defence” commented Langford on the defensive effort not only tonight, but throughout the season. “[Rachel] Fradg[ley] is lighter and moving better than she ever has, which helps us in being able to switch up some stuff. Ozi [Nwabuko] is a very versatile defender [as well. . .] I just thought we did a really good of job of just keeping our composure and coming back with some fire in our belly.”
Now 6–1 in Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) play, and with a victory over a nationally ranked opponent under its belt, SFU will likely be in the top 25 of the national rankings — if all goes well their next few games. It’s been a fantastic season so far, and they’ll need more of what happened in the fourth quarter if they want to make it a memorable one.
Next Game: SFU takes on the Saint Martin Saints this Saturday at 7 p.m. The Saints currently sit tied for last in the GNAC with Central Washington, and have lost eight of their last nine games. They sit in the lower half in a lot of major categories, but do have one thing going for them — they have the best three-point defence in the conference, even better than powerhouse Alaska Anchorage, at .278. Despite that, it should be a very winnable game, and a good warmup before a big matchup against Western Washington next Tuesday.