This was not supposed to happen.
Heading into the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) as the third seed and playing the six-seeded Central Washington University Wildcats, the Simon Fraser University Clan was expected to advance to the semifinals, and perhaps even further. While the Clan gave a strong defensive effort, their offensive deficiencies (not aided at all by an injury to Meg Wilson) proved to be too much to overcome.
The teams began the game much like it ended, neck-and-neck. Kortney Grattic and Rachel Fradgley traded layups to start the game, and the rest of the first quarter was much the same. By the end of the first frame, the score was 16–16. We were in for a highly competitive game of playoff basketball.
In the second quarter, Simon Fraser was able to separate themselves a little bit from their opponents. With four minutes left in the quarter, an Elisa Homer three-pointer extended the lead to as much as eight, with a score of 26–18. Central Washington was able to cut the lead to as little as two before the break, before a pair of free throws by Sophie Swant made the score 28–24 heading into the half.
Ellen Kett led Simon Fraser with nine points and four assists. For Central Washington, Jasmin Edwards led all scorers with 10 points and played all 20 minutes.
Although the Clan won the quarter, they suffered a huge loss. Meg Wilson left the game with 3:27 left in the second quarter and did not return. She finished with zero points, two rebounds, and five turnovers, much different than the team-leading 14.7 points and 5.4 rebounds she averaged throughout the season.
Even with this loss, Simon Fraser was able to play a strong third quarter. A Kett layup assisted by Homer gave the Clan an eight-point lead, and forced a timeout by the other side with 6:12 to go in the quarter. This lead would extend to 12 twice in the remaining minutes of the frame, but would settle back at eight as the teams went into the fourth. Even without their star forward, SFU had put themselves in a strong position to win the game.
In the fourth quarter, however, the team unraveled. The Wildcats outscored the Clan 23–14 in the frame, and SFU was poor on both sides of the ball. From 6:17 to 1:38 in the quarter, Central Washington went on a 15–3 run in which Simon Fraser could not buy a basket.
The score was now 54–53 for the Wildcats with a minute and a half to go: playoff crunch time. After a pair of free throws by Ellen Kett made the game 57–56 for the Clan with four seconds left, Kortney Grattic was fouled with only one second remaining on the clock. She went on to hit both free throws and complete the comeback, giving her team the upset win.
Offensive struggles for SFU were the catalyst for the loss. They shot only 27.1% from the field, including hitting only 15% of their three-pointers. Kett was the only player in double-digits for the Clan, with 22 points and seven assists. Every other Simon Fraser player, with the exception of Tayla Jackson, shot less the 30% from the field. The absence of their leading scorer was definitely a factor.
Next Game: Even with this disappointing loss, there is still potentially more basketball to be played for the Clan as Simon Fraser will now look to take part in the upcoming West Regional Tournament. At the time of publication, it is not sure whether SFU will be in this tournament. If they do make it, their first game will be Friday, March 10.