Don’t foul the SFU women’s basketball team

SFU women’s basketball break GNAC free throw record during 72–53 win over Saint Martin’s

The SFU women's basketball team is now 3–4 in the GNAC this season. (Photo courtesy of SFU Athletics)

By: Navya Malik

On Thursday, January 11, Simon Fraser women’s basketball team won against Saint Martin’s at the West Gym on Burnaby campus. During the game, SFU set their second Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) record of the season. By going 21–21 from the free throw line, the Clan now has the record for most free throws in a game without a miss.

The game’s first five minutes seemed not to be in the Clan’s favour due to consecutive fouls, giving a 11-point lead to Saint Martin’s early, 2–13. SFU continued to struggle for the rest of the quarter, finishing the quarter down 15–7.

SFU managed to take the lead during the second quarter of the game with Nicole Vander Helm making some significant shots. She had 14 points in the quarter, including four threes. As the teams battled back and forth, SFU went into the half with a 32–26 lead.

The Clan got off to a quick 10-point lead to start the second half, 36–26, putting an emphasis on three-point shooting. As mentioned by SFU freshman Kendal Sands, “Three-point shooting and defence have been the strengths of [the] Clan throughout the previous games.”

In the third quarter, Tayla Jackson, faced a minor injury during the game, after getting fouled on a shot attempt. Saint Martin’s Elin Johansson was declared to have made a foul, by putting her leg underneath Jackson who then fell and cut her elbow, but the Saint Martin’s coach was not thrilled with the call to say the least. Sophie Swant was then called in to shoot the free throws for Simon Fraser.

With four minutes left in the quarter, the game could have gone either way, with SFU holding a 56–50 lead. Down the stretch, however, Saint Martin’s elected to send the Clan to the free throw line, and the home team made them pay.

SFU would eventually win 71–52, going a perfect 21–21 from the free throw line as late free throws carried them to the win. SFU also won the rebound battle, 38–29. Nicole Vander Helm led the game with 23 points on 7–14 shooting from the field, and 5–5 from the free throw line.

To this, head coach Bruce Langford discussed how “free throw shooting and rebounds” proved to be the backbone of the players winning the game. Langford was satisfied with SFU’s performance, who were in the lead for all quarters except the first. He also mentioned that “Nicole [Vander Helm] and Tia [Tsang]” were the top players of the game. When asked about some expectations from the team members in future games, the coach hoped the team would “shoot better” from the three, and aim for 40 per cent [from three] for the game, rather than the 28.6 per cent that they shot.

With the win, SFU now has a 3–4 record in the GNAC this season. They will next play against Seattle Pacific on Saturday night on Burnaby campus. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.