Low body count hurts the Clan in fourth game in six days

SFU women’s basketball fall 82–76 against Hawaii Pacific University

The Clan's shooting stroke was on, but fatigue cost them the game. (Photo courtesy of SFU Athletics)

On Thursday afternoon, the Clan played their home opener, hosting the Hawaii Pacific Sharks. With only seven available players, the team was always in for a tough game, but showed they were more than able to keep up with their opponents throughout the game, before falling short 82–76.

Sophie Swant started things off for SFU, getting a basket in the low post after Tayla Jackson won the tip off. The Sharks bounced back quickly, however, going on a 12–0 run after the opening basket. The Clan bounced back by the end of the quarter, when Tayler Drynan scored a three-pointer at the buzzer to cut the deficit to two, as it was 22–20 for the visitors.

Early on in the second quarter, SFU tied the game at 24 with an acrobatic finish from centre Tayla Jackson. Hawaii Pacific, however, went on another big run scoring 10 straight points before a Kendall Sands layup stopped the bleeding at the end of the half. The teams would go into the break with a score of 38–30. Jessi Reeves led the way for the Sharks with a game high 13 points in the first two quarters on 6–8 shooting. The Clan, on the other hand, had no players in double digits in the first half and were led by Jessica Jones and Sands with seven points each.

After a McFogg the Dog (SFU mascot)-inspired dance party with neighbouring elementaries at halftime, the Clan got off to a good start in the third quarter. Back-to-back threes from Jones tied the score up at 42, before two free throws from Nicole Vander Helm gave the Clan a 46–42 lead, their biggest of the contest. All of this was with Reeves on the bench for the Sharks due to foul trouble. She immediately made an impact after coming into the game with three minutes in the quarter, eventually helping put Hawaii Pacific up 58–54 as the teams headed into the final quarter.

In the fourth quarter, unfortunately, Simon Fraser was unable to keep up with their opponents as fatigue showed. “I think we’re pretty tired. We’ve got seven bodies and just played three games in four days and now [played] our fourth game in six days. It’s a lot to ask of [the team,]” said head coach Bruce Langford after the game.

This is not to say that the team didn’t put up a good effort. A late barrage of threes from Tia Tsang, Vander Helm, and Sands put the team within striking distance late, but clutch free throws from the Sharks down the stretch ultimately gave them the 82–76 victory.

One of the highlights of the game was the play of Jones, who had a team-high 16 points, in large part coming from her game-high five three-pointers. When asked on her shooting after the game, coach Langford said, “She’s a very, very good shooter. She’s actually struggled a little bit from the three this year but we keep wanting her to shoot . . . I think she’s going to have a lot of games where she has more than five [threes].”

Threes were actually falling for the entire team, as they hit 13–24 (54.2%) in the contest. It felt like every run that the Sharks went on was answered by a SFU three-pointer, but it was not enough to win the game in the end.

Going forward, the team will need to get healthy to stay competitive. Playing four games in six days is tough for any team, let alone one that only has seven healthy players on the roster. In the meantime, the Clan will have to avoid foul trouble to make sure they can play their rotations as planned. “We have to win the foul game and we have to stay out of foul trouble . . . It affects our subbing. It affects our rest rotation,” said coach Langford on the subject.

Catch Simon Fraser when they play their next game on Saturday, November 18 in a rematch against California Baptist University. The Clan played them last week in Riverside, California, and won the game 78–68 after a great second half. Tipoff is at 12 p.m.