SFU women’s basketball comeback falls short against Alaska Anchorage

Clan see winning streak snapped after almost pulling off another stunning upset

Ozioma Nwabuko played a game high 39 minutes in this one. (Photo courtesy of SFU Athletics)

By: Brandon Braich

On Saturday night, the SFU women’s basketball team hosted the number 11-ranked Alaska Anchorage Seawolves at the West Gym on Burnaby Mountain. The Clan, winners of six straight, faced a tough test against one of the top teams in the league.

SFU (12–7) fell in a heartbreaker, losing 68–63 to the Seawolves. Alaska Anchorage led for most of the night, with their lead growing to as large as 10 in the third quarter, but a furious SFU comeback lead by hot shooting from Sophie Swant (20 points) and Taylor Drynan (13 points) fell just short.

After the first quarter, the Clan found themselves trailing 21–15. SFU struggled to generate offense against the physical Seawolves defense. Alaska Anchorage forced 27 turnovers on the night leading to 17 points.

“We overpenetrated a bit, and when you overpenetrate you get yourselves into trouble sometimes,” SFU head coach Bruce Langford said. “They were very aggressive, and I think we had a couple of people playing a bit nervous.”

SFU picked up the defense of their own, holding Alaska Anchorage to just two field goals in the second quarter. Ozioma Nwabuko connected on a three-point play at the buzzer closing the gap to 31–28 at the half. Nwabuko was a warrior all night, playing a game-high 39 minutes and finishing with 12 points and seven rebounds.

The third quarter started with several sloppy plays by the Clan, as Alaska Anchorage’s full court pressure stymied any ball movement. The Seawolves quickly pushed the lead to 10 as they took control of the game. Hannah Wandersee was a force inside for the Seawolves, finishing with a game high 28 points.

But once again the Clan responded.

Kendal Sands broke the lid on the rim with a put back on an offensive rebound. After a defensive stop Swant found Samantha Beauchamp wide open under the basket for an easy two. With the crowd of 332 feeling the momentum turning, Swant hit a three before the buzzer to pull the Clan to within one going into the fourth quarter.

The Seawolves responded, starting the quarter with a couple of quick baskets of their own. But Swant responded with a three, and then after Nwabuko stepped in to take a charge, Swant hit her fourth triple of the game to give the Clan their first lead.

Alaska Anchorage responded quickly though, finally shaking their three-point drought and hitting a couple of clutch shots from long range.  Multiple three’s by Drynan kept the Clan within striking distance though, even after Swant fouled out.

With seconds to play, Jessica Jones hit a deep three, pulling the Clan to within one. When the ball was inbounded, Sands intentionally fouled — however, after video review, it was determined that it was a flagrant foul, effectively ending the game.

“She hit her face slightly,” Langford said.  “I think it probably looked worse on tape then it was in real life.”

Wandersee hit her free throws putting the game out of reach.

Despite the loss, Langford seemed optimistic of his team’s play.

“I thought we were close, I thought we did a lot of things well,” He said. “We took away their three-point shooters for most of the game.”

“We were just a little bit unlucky at the end, a couple of things didn’t go our way.”

What’s Next:

SFU will hit the road for the next two games. They’ll visit Concordia on Thursday and then Western Oregon on Saturday. The Clan will be back home on Valentine’s Day as they face off against Seattle Pacific in the West Gym.