Women’s basketball win exciting season finale, await playoff fate

With a 77–74 win over Montana State, SFU has done all it can to make the GNAC Championships

Tayla Jackson played some big minutes in the fourth quarter while battling foul trouble. (Photo courtesy of SFU Athletics)

After what was, to that point, the most exciting game of the season on Tuesday night, the Clan outdid themselves again on Thursday evening. Taking on Montana State University Billings (MSUB), SFU and their opponent battled back and forth all game, with the home team eventually taking the win. Here’s how it happened:

In the first half, neither team could do anything to separate themselves from the other. The largest lead of the half was six for SFU, which they were able to do three times. Every time, MSUB bounced back, not giving the Clan any breathing room. While the Clan led for most of the half, the two teams would go into the break with a score of 33–31 for the home team, setting the game up for an exciting second half.

SFU began the second half in the driver’s seat, pushing the lead to ten after a three-pointer from Sophie Swant a few minutes into the third quarter. As good teams always seem to do, however, MSUB bounced back with an 8–0 run of their own before the Clan could get any real momentum. The Yellowjackets would then take their first lead of the game after a layup from Rylee Kane, before a Jessica Jones three-pointer for SFU regained the Clan a one-point lead heading into the fourth. Both teams knew the playoff implications of this game, and were positioned for an exciting fourth quarter.

The fourth quarter would prove to be a nail-biter, as neither team took control of the game at any point, even down to the last few seconds. With Tayla Jackson struggling with foul trouble, head coach Bruce Langford elected to bring her back into the game with 3:30 to go in a tie game. Right away, she made her presence felt, scoring the next six points for the team, and coming up with a huge block on the defensive end. With 26 seconds to go, however, she fouled out on a very questionable call, with the score 75–73 in favour of SFU. After making the first free throw, Rachel Koehler missed the second, before MSUB was able to steal the ball back and call a timeout. The ensuing possession was frantic as Koehler missed two shots in the paint before Swant came up with a huge rebound and was fouled. She would hit the ensuing two free throws, and win SFU the game 77–74.

Swant led the Clan with 17 points, seven assists, and two blocks. Jackson also came up with 16 points and two blocks. MSUB’s Kane led the game with 28 points, while Alisha Breen had 20 points for the visitors.

SFU has battled adversity all season, with a small roster size and injuries to key players throughout the campaign. After the game, Langford had this to say: “It feels nice to get the win, yeah it’s good [. . .] it’s definitely the most unique season I’ve ever had [. . .] it’s been a challenge in many ways. I think the last three or four weeks we’ve put together some pieces that have been helpful.”

The Clan now have a stronger hold on the sixth and final playoff spot, although they are still far from a lock for the postseason. Both Concordia and Washington play this weekend, and a win by either or both would create a tiebreaker situation for heading into the GNAC Championships.