By: Brandon Braich, Peak Associate
Returning from a short road trip, the SFU Women’s Basketball team split two games at home last week.
The Clan started the week by hosting the University of Alaska Fairbanks (6–13, 1–9 GNAC) on Thursday, and easily dispatched their opponents in a decisive 93–61 victory.
Fairbanks started strong and jumped out to an early 7–2 lead after a long 3-pointer by Sam Tolliver. However, the Clan responded soon after and controlled play for the rest of the quarter. Led by Ozioma Nwabuko’s 18 points on just 9 shots, SFU began to break the game open in the second quarter. Just before the halftime buzzer, Jessica Jones finished a layup in the paint and then followed it up with a 3-pointer to give the Clan a double digit lead heading into the half.
Coming out of the locker room, the Clan quickly buried their outmatched opposition. A smooth layup by Sophie Klassen capped off a 21–2 run that effectively ended the game early in the second half. Klassen was a force all over the court, stuffing the box score with 6 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 blocks.
It was an impressive performance on both ends of the court for SFU, as the team shot an astounding 48% from the field while forcing their opponent into a total of 19 turnovers. Stifling defence propelled the Clan all night long, as they scored 24 of their 93 points off of turnovers.
Jones had a strong game, recording 16 points and 2 assists while shooting three of 11 from beyond the arc. Kendal Sands was a spark plug off the bench and finished with 11 points on the night.
On the other side of the ball, Tolliver led the way for the team from Fairbanks, scoring a game high 22 points.
Following the win, SFU turned their attention to the division-leading University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves (19–2, 9–1 GNAC). In a battle between two of the top teams in the conference, the Clan was unable to continue its winning ways. After a tightly contested first half, the Seawolves pulled away in the second which led to a tough 87–66 loss for SFU.
Once again, the Clan got off to a slow start and quickly fell behind 13–2 just minutes into the contest. While the Clan settled down defensively soon after, they struggled to muster any offence and hit just four field goals in the first quarter. The final of those four buckets was a critical 3-pointer by Claudia Hart to cut the deficit to single digits.
However, the Seawolves continued the onslaught in the second quarter and extended their lead to 19 after a pair of successful free throws by Safiyyah Yasin.
While the game appeared to be slipping away, the Clan began to mount a comeback and finished the half strong, spurred by consecutive 3-pointers from Georgia Swant and Jessica Wisotzki. Ultimately, SFU was able to cut the deficit to 40–33 after a pair of successful Sophie Klassen free throws to end the half.
A field goal by Nwabuko seconds into the half brought the Clan to within five points, which was the closest it had been since the opening minutes of the game. This was as close as SFU would get, though, as the Seawolves clamped down on defense to ensure the score was never closer than that. Alaska Anchorage dominated the rest of the quarter, outscoring SFU 28–14, and an impressive jump shot by Tennae Voliva gave the Seawolves a 19-point lead heading into the final quarter.
In the final frame, the Seawolves demonstrated why they sit atop the GNAC standings by playing at breakneck speed while getting contributions from all over the line up. In the loss, Claudia Hart led all SFU scorers, finishing with 16 points and 6 rebounds.
Ultimately, it was the poor shooting night that doomed SFU, as they failed to sink a single 3-pointer in the second half. In an email interview with The Peak, Head coach Bruce Langford noted the uphill battle they faced against the Seawolves because of their cold shooting.
“If you can’t hit open three’s, then you can’t beat anyone,” Langford said. “We struggled with the pace of the game. We had one good stretch but we were not able to maintain it.”
Despite the loss, SFU still sits third in the GNAC standings, and will look to get back to its winning ways at home next week against Western Oregon University.