By: Brandon Braich
On Seniors Day, the SFU women’s basketball team hosted the visiting Saint Martin’s University Saints in front of a boisterous crowd of 582 at the West Gym on Burnaby Mountain.
After a chippy and physical affair, SFU (16–7) coasted to a 77–57 win against the Saints (5–19). Ozioma Nwabuko led the way with 20 points on 10–11 shooting in just 26 minutes.
While Sophie Swant (10 points, seven assists) opened the scoring with a strong drive to the rim, the Saints started strong matching each SFU basket. Bria Thames and Rebekah Baugh had the first 8 points for SMU as they marched to a 15–13 lead halfway through the opening quarter.
It was a physical game right from out the outset, as Samantha Beauchamp was called for a flagrant just minutes into the game after connecting with an elbow while trying to clear space. Shortly after, the Saints received a technical themselves after Saniah Simpson knocked Swant to the ground well after the whistle.
Before the end of a quarter, Swant hit a layup and followed it with a 3 point shot to give the Clan their first lead at 22–18, a lead they would not relinquish.
In the second quarter, the Clan started to pour it on, with Beauchamp finishing strong inside to balloon the lead to 30–20 minutes into the second. This was followed by a scary moment where both Beauchamp and the Saints’ Russ Jayla slammed to the floor. Both were shaken up, as Beauchamp was assessed her second flagrant of the game and ejected.
“I think it got way out of control,” said SFU coach Bruce Langford. “I think our most pacifistic player got two flagrant fouls. I think she got bumped around and banged around early and was trying to protect herself.”
Nwabuko filled the gap inside, scoring all of her points in the paint and allowing the Clan to a extend their lead to 42–28 going into the half. SFU had a strong game passing the ball, finishing the night with 22 assists on 31 field goals.
“I think we did a good job defensively of shutting them down,” said Langford. “I thought we shared the ball well, we had a lot of assists tonight cause we really moved the ball.”
Nwabuko started off the second half right where she finished off by hitting a sweeping hook to start things off, then on the next trip down the floor sealing off her defender for an easy finish at the rim. After a deep three pointer by Taylor Drynan the Clan pushed their lead to 52–32. The lead grew to as high as 27 as SFU coasted easily to a decisive victory.
Nwabuko felt the game’s early physicality worked to their advantage.
“I think the game just had a really aggressive tone to it, everybody on the floor was emotional,” said Nwabuko. “It was about reeling that emotion in and using it to power us.”
This was the final regular season home game for SFU, with their final four games all on the road beginning with a visit to the Northwest Nazarene Nighthawks (22–1). The Nighthawks’ lone loss of the season came the last time these two teams met.