On Thursday night, the SFU women’s basketball team travelled to Ellensburg, Washington to take on the Central Washington University (CWU) Wildcats in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) matchup. The Clan began the game with only seven players, as freshman Jessica Jones did not dress in the contest. In the second quarter, Nicole Vander Helm was forced to leave the game with an injury, shortening SFU’s rotation to just six players.
Prior to the injury, however, the Clan was struggling. A buzzer beater by freshman Kendall Sands kept SFU from a single-digit-scoring first quarter, but they went into the second down 20–11.
The second quarter didn’t start much better, as an 8–0 run by Central Washington gave the home team a 32–16 lead halfway through the quarter. After Vander Helm’s injury with roughly three minutes to go in the half, the Clan narrowed the deficit to 12. They went into the break down 37–25, with only six players available to play the second half.
Despite the injury, Vander Helm was the leading scorer of the game for the first half. She had nine points on 3–7 shooting, including one three-pointer. Vander Helm is averaging 12.9 points per game so far this season.
Her presence was missed in the third quarter, as the Clan continued to struggle against their opponent. They lost the quarter 25–16, and went into the fourth quarter down 62–41. At this point, it looked like SFU was in for a blowout loss.
For National Basketball Association fans, what SFU did against CWU, although it ultimately ended in a loss, is similar to what the Toronto Raptors did against the Golden State Warriors earlier this month. They made a game out of it when all things looked against them entering the fourth quarter.
After an opening layup by Central Washington’s Taylor Baird, the Clan went on a 9–0 run to cut the deficit to 14. They continued to chip away, finally cutting the deficit to single digits after a three-pointer by point guard Tayler Drynan made the score 71–62. With less than a minute to go, two straight baskets by SFU’s Tia Tsang cut the deficit to four, the closest the Clan had been since the 2:18 mark in the first quarter. Despite the heroics, the team would fall short, as CWU free throws down the stretch gave the home team the 77–71 win.
SFU’s Sophie Swant led the game with 19 points, aided by a perfect 10–10 from the free throw line. Claudia Hart came off the bench for 14 points on an efficient 5–6 shooting from the field and 4–4 from the free throw line. Drynan was the only other SFU player in double digit scoring, finishing the game with 10 points and seven assists.
With the loss, the Clan is now 3–6 in GNAC play so far this season, and 8–9 overall. Their next game is Saturday at 6 p.m. in Nampa, Idaho as they play Northwest Nazarene University.