By: Brandon Braich
After finishing their home schedule, the SFU women’s basketball team set out on the road to play out the remaining season. The playoff-bound SFU faced Northwest Nazarene (24–1) and Central Washington (16–9) this weekend as the Clan looked to continue their four-game winning streak.
On Thursday, Simon Fraser walked into the home of the number seven ranked Nighthawks, a team they had delivered their only loss to, but could not repeat the effort, losing 84–61. SFU struggled to shoot all night, shooting 42% from the field and 21% from 3. Sophie Swant and Jessica Jones lead the way with 11 points, but it was a tough night shooting for Swant, who finished 4–16.
The game started optimistically as a basket by Ozioma Nwabuko (4 points) gave SFU an early 7–5 lead. But the Nighthawks Mckenna Walker answered with a three to take back a lead NNU would never relinquish.
Nwabuko hit another lay up and Kendal Sands came off the bench and hit a three, but that was the extent of SFU’s scoring as they went into the second quarter down 22–12.
SFU chipped away at the lead in the second, as a three by Jessica Jones brought the score to 30–23 with five minutes remaining in the half. SFU’s increased aggression lead to nine free throw attempts in the quarter, but despite hitting them all SFU could not draw closer as the half ended 39–29.
It was in the third quarter that the floodgates opened, as the Nighthawks poured in 27 points as the Clan’s defense was helpless to stop NNU’s attack. Danielle Jardine led the way for NNU, finishing with 15 points on 6–9 shooting. It was a balanced attack for the Nighthawks however, with each active player recording a field goal.
The lone bright spot for SFU was their showing at the charity stripe, shooting 16–17 from the line. While SFU’s three-point attack was shut down, the game was won in the paint with the Nighthawks outscoring SFU 44–14.
After the tough loss, SFU turned their attention to Central Washington, the team just below them in the standings. With seeding implications on the line, SFU stood tall beating the Wildcats 83–73.
SFU bounced back from their cold shooting night, shooting a blistering 53% from the field and 56% from three. Jones led the way with 23 points and 7 rebounds, she was a sharpshooter from deep hitting 5–11 from behind the arc. Sophie Swant also had a strong game finishing with 21 points and six assists.
The first quarter was a back and forth affair, with both teams responding to each run. After a turnover lead to a lay up for the Wildcats’ Kaelie Flores, SFU found themselves down 18–13 early. Tayler Drynan answered with one of SFU’s 13 three-pointers, closing the gap, and a layup by Jones would tie the game at 20 all. Sienna Lenz (six points) hit a lay up before the buzzer to tie the game 24 heading into the second quarter.
Swant hit a couple of early threes to push momentum SFU’s way, and back-to-back three-pointers by Jones halfway through the quarter gave the Clan a 39–29 lead. The Wildcats, led by Flores, tried to chip away, but a late three by Swant gave SFU a 47–37 lead at halftime. Jones did most of her damage in the first half, finishing with 17 of the 47 points SFU scored.
The Wildcats came out strong in the third, and a three-pointer by Alexis Pana shrunk the SFU lead to five. With momentum turning, it was Swant again who answered in the fourth, starting the quarter with a jumper and then a deep three extending the lead to 70–60. The Clan never allowed the Wildcats to get close again, calmly finishing off the victory.
SFU closes out the regular season this week with their final two games of the year. On Tuesday they will head to Western Washington (9–9), before ending the season against Montana State University Billings.