By: Brandon Braich, Peak Associate
Both SFU basketball teams played two GNAC games last weekend to kick off the 2020 portion of their schedules. In an early afternoon start, the SFU Women’s Basketball team won a tightly contested battle against the Western Oregon Wolves by a score of 64–57 to move to 8–6 overall and 3–1 in GNAC play.
The Wolves held a narrow lead of 25–24 at the half thanks to a stifling defensive performance. The Clan were held to only 33% from the field in what was a defensive struggle for most of the night.
Western Oregon, with their sights set on an upset, came out of the locker room strong and extended their lead to nine going into the fourth quarter. The Wolves were led by forward Shariah Green, who finished with 17 points on just 11 shots.
However, with their backs against the wall, the Clan rallied and dominated the final frame, outscoring the Wolves 27–12 in the fourth quarter. SFU’s long-range attack helped turn the game, as the Clan finished with 10 three-pointers, six of which were scored in the fourth quarter. The defence also tightened, which forced the Wolves into 25 turnovers on the day.
SFU was led by Jessica Jones, who finished with seven rebounds and a game-high 22 points. Jones was hot from long range, finishing 4 of 6 from behind the line, including two crucial three-pointers in the fourth to complete the comeback. Claudia Hart also had a standout performance, finishing with 12 points, seven rebounds, and three steals.
Having now won five of their last six games, the women’s team will look to continue to build momentum as they venture into the thick of their GNAC schedule.
Meanwhile, the men’s team hosted and defeated the Central Washington University Wildcats by a score of 75–57 in what was a dominating second half performance. In front of a crowd of 424, the Clan outscored the Wildcats 41–24 in the second half to move to 10–3 overall and 3–1 in GNAC play.
While the visiting Wildcats got off to a strong start, keeping neck and neck with the Clan for most of the first half, they could not sustain the effort throughout the entire game. SFU took a narrow one-point lead into the half after centre Julian Roche sank a free throw shortly before the buzzer, and the Clan didn’t look back from there.
Once the second half started, the floodgates finally opened for the Clan’s powerful offence. With the score 49–48 for the home team, SFU went on a 14–0 run to finally pull away in what had been a back-and-forth affair. SFU shot an impressive 50% from the field, and went 7 for 17 from long range. The victory would have been even more emphatic had the Clan capitalized on their free throw attempts, as the team shot just 57% on 21 attempts.
Roche led the way for SFU, going 8 of 12 from the field for 17 points and 11 rebounds, while also finishing with a game high three blocks and two steals. Wilfried Balata was a spark off the bench, finishing with 11 points and six rebounds. Balata was aggressive, attacking the basket all game and doing most of his work from the line, where he shot 8 of 11.
All in all, it was a successful first weekend of 2020 for both SFU Basketball teams. Hopefully for Clan fans, this type of performance has set the standard for a high level of basketball that SFU sports fans can enjoy throughout the semester.