SFU women’s basketball Cinderella season ends on Thursday night

Clan lose 85–59 to Seattle Pacific Falcons in GNAC Championships

Freshman Jessica Jones led the Clan with 16 points and four three pointers. (Photo courtesy of SFU Athletics)

After winning the last three games of the season to sneak into the postseason as the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) sixth seed, the Clan took on the third-seeded Seattle Pacific Falcons on Thursday night in Alaska. Despite an admirable effort to make the playoffs, however, SFU were unable to overcome their tough opponent in the GNAC quarterfinals. This is the first time in Simon Fraser history that the team fell to Seattle Pacific in the GNAC playoffs.

The Falcons could not be stopped in this one, finishing the game with 35 field goal makes on 31 assists, both new GNAC records, beating the records the school set in the 2010–11 season. They shot 53.8% from the field, including 59.4% in a blowout second half. The eight-player SFU roster simply could not keep up with them.

The fact that the SFU team made the postseason with an eight (and often seven) player rotation is both a testament to the coaching staff and the SFU players. Basketball teams typically run 10+ player rotations, and often have a roster that is 15 players deep. When talking the head coach Bruce Langford earlier in the season about the low roster size, he mentioned that the team could not even practice properly, both because they were so tired and didn’t have the players to properly scrimmage.

The way the team managed to make the playoffs despite this adversity points to a lot of things, but one of the main factors was their ability to hit the three ball. As stated by Langford, “Why go up by two points when the rules allow you to go up by three?”

Despite the difference in score, the three ball was working again for the Clan on Thursday night. The team shot 12–25 (48%) from behind the arc, good for 61% of the team’s total points. Comparatively, Seattle Pacific shot 6–17 (35.3%) from behind the arc, amounting to 21% of the team’s total points. While this points to the dependence on the three for SFU, it also points to their eliteness in the category.

Freshman Jessica Jones ended her first season in a Clan uniform with a strong night, finishing the game with 16 points and four three-pointers. She joins Tayler Drynan (50) and Tia Tsang (51) as the three SFU players with 50+ three-pointers this season. Sophie Swant also had a strong game, finishing the night with 15 points and five assists. Nicole Vander Helm returned from injury in this one, but still did not look 100%, finishing the game with three points in 18 minutes.

In what was a lot of ways considered a rebuild year for SFU women’s basketball, making the playoffs has to be seen as an impressive result. The team has a very strong recruit list for next season, and shouldn’t be struggling with roster size any time soon. Swant’s sister, Georgia, has already signed her letter of intent, and looks like she will become an exciting player under head coach Langford.

The Clan finished the season with a 14–15 overall record, and a 9–11 conference record.