By: Brandon Braich
On Thursday night, the SFU women’s basketball team hosted the University of Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks in the West Gym on Burnaby Mountain. The Clan came into the game winners of five straight, looking to extend the streak to six.
At 4:46 into the 1st quarter, however, SFU (12–6) looked up to a surprising 7–8 deficit against the visiting Alaska Nanooks (3–14). From that point the Clan locked in and dominated the remaining 36 minutes. Led by Sophie Swant (20 points), a barrage of 3 pointers, and stifling defense, the Clan defeated the Nanooks 85–48 in front of a crowd of 307 at the West Gym.
It was a complete effort by SFU, totalling 38 bench points, with every active player recording a bucket.
“It’s nice when everyone scores, and overall I was pleased,” SFU head coach Bruce Langford said. “We ran the floor and ran early offense quite well.”
“I thought we took over when we shifted our first group in the first quarter and started to play some full court pressure.”
SFU’s defense was on full display in the second quarter when they held Alaska to only one field goal, finishing the half with a 39–16 lead. Samantha Beauchamp was a force inside recording five blocks, while their pressure defense was able to generate 20 turnovers leading to 20 points. Kendel Sands forced several turnovers herself, with her tight on ball defense.
“At the end of the first, and second, the moment flowed quite nicely,” said Langford.
Alaska opened the second half with a 3, but Swant quickly answered with a jumper of her own and SFU’s full court press forced a five second violation on the inbounds erasing any doubt of the outcome.
It was a balanced effort behind Swant. Jessica Jones was the only other double-figure scorer with 11 points and 4 assists, including 3–6 from deep. Taylor Drynan finished with 7 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds. Claudia Hart chipped in nine points off the bench on 4–7 shooting.
Ashlie Blackburn, Emily Evans, and Marian Wamsley lead the way for the Nanooks with 11, 10, and 10 points each.
SFU shot 45% from the field and went 11–31 from three. The 85 points was a season high for the Clan. Their defense limited Alaska to 20–61 shooting (33%) and 2–15 from three. The story, however, was SFU’s diverse and unselfish attack. 22 of their 31 buckets were assisted.
“We moved the ball well,” said Swant. “I think it makes us really hard to guard when everyone’s scoring, because you shut down one and someone else is going to hit the shot.”
It was SFU’s sixth win in a row, including a stunning upset over the number-one ranked Northwest Nazarene University. With the playoffs drawing closer, SFU may be peaking at the right time.
SFU now turns their attention to Saturday, where they face a tough test against the number 11 ranked Alaska Anchorage (18–1). With the challenge ahead, Langford seemed relieved with the small workload his starters carried.
“We had some injured players, so it was nice to be able to get them some rest,” said Langford.
The game will be played at the West Gym on February 2 at 7 p.m.
“Today wasn’t really the test,” said Swant. “The test will be on Saturday.”