Clan pull off huge 79–77 win over Western Washington

With the win, Thursday’s game has major playoff implications

Tayla Jackson's 19 points and late block were huge in the victory. (Photo courtesy of SFU Athletics)

On Tuesday night, the SFU women’s basketball team won possibly the most exciting game of the season so far. Not only was it a tightly competitive game, but it also had huge implications on who will make the playoffs, with only one more game to go for both teams. The Clan came into this one just one game behind the then-sixth-placed Western Washington University (WWU) Vikings in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC), with the top six teams making the GNAC Championships. The teams are now tied for sixth place at 8–11, with the Clan holding the season series, and will both be playing must win games to end the season.

While the Clan struggled out of the gate, they bounced back in the first quarter to take the lead heading into the second. They then began to pull ahead, holding a double-digit lead for much of the second quarter, before a three-pointer by Claudia Hart gave the home side a 13-point lead heading into halftime.

Sophie Swant played a great first half for SFU with 10 points and three assists heading into the break. For Western Washington, Anna Schwecke did all she could to keep her team in the game, leading the game with 14 points, more than half of her team’s combined points.

The second half is when the playoff intensity really started to build.

After being down by as much as 16 points in the early third quarter, Western Washington responded with a 13–0 run to cut the deficit to three. This would be a major turning point in the game, as the teams battled back and forth for the rest of the third quarter before the Clan took a 57–52 lead into the final frame.

In the fourth, the Clan maintained a seven-point lead with under two minutes to go, before things got really interesting. Switching to a full court press, WWU was able to score seven straight points, cutting SFU’s lead to one with 54 seconds left in the game. After a timeout by SFU, Swant was fouled, giving her an opportunity to give the Clan a three-point lead. Swant is the best free throw shooter in the entire GNAC, and was 103–113 in free throws heading into the game.

She missed both.

This set up an opportunity for Western Washington to win the game. On the ensuing possession, however, Tayla Jackson came up huge for the Simon Fraser, blocking Gracie Castaneda’s layup attempt, and securing the rebound with six seconds left. A free throw from Jessica Jones would then make the score 79–77, give SFU the win, and save their playoff aspirations.

SFU had four players in double digits: Jackson (19), Tayler Drynan (16), Swant (15), and Jones (10). Jackson led the game in blocks with two, including the huge block to save the victory.

For WWU, Schwecke had a career-high 28 points, shooting an impressive 13–17 from the field.

With the win, the Clan is now 8–11 in GNAC play this season. Simon Fraser University will next host Montana State University Billings (MSUB) on Thursday night, in what is as must-win of a game without it technically being a must-win. A win puts the Clan in a great position to finish as the sixth seed, while a loss leaves the door open for Western Washington (8–11), Concordia (7–11), and Western Oregon (7–11), the latter two having two games left to play. MSUB is 11–7 in GNAC play, good for fourth in the GNAC. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.