Women improve playoff odds

With only a single game left in season play, the Seattle Pacific women’s basketball team is faced with the challenge of taking on second place Central Washington University this Saturday at 5 p.m. in SPU’s Royal Brougham Pavilion.

In addition, Saturday’s game could decide whether or not the Falcons qualify for the postseason, as they must finish in the top six teams in the region to qualify. In last week’s poll, the Falcons were ranked seventh.

Central Washington is currently holding second place in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC), just ahead of the Falcons with one less loss than SPU, but the Falcons hope to change that this Saturday.

"We’ve had our roads, our ups and downs. There’s definitely been some adversity," junior guard Stephanie Urrutia said. "But we’re still hopeful because the regional tournament is still in front of us. We just need to take care of what we need to do, and more than likely, we’ll be there."

The Falcons (13-4) are going into the final game against CWU (14-3) coming off of back-to-back wins on the road against Humboldt State, 81-69, and Western Oregon University, 94-80.

The women came home with a win after an intense game against the Western Oregon Wolves on their home turf last Saturday night. With both teams trading places for the lead throughout both halves and two overtime periods, the match-up between SPU and WOU was anything but boring.

Junior guard Kerie Hughes rallied the Falcons with impressive numbers throughout the game. She posted a season-high 22 points and a career-best 10 rebounds to help lift the Falcons to a double-overtime victory.

The Falcon offense had a sub-par performance in the game, posting a season’s worst .329 shooting percentage from the floor, but the women more than made up for it under the glass, out-rebounding the Wolves and posting season-high team numbers for boards.

Starting junior center Kelley Berglund was forced to sit out most of the second half and both overtimes of the game with a sprained ankle after only 23 minutes of play and four points. She is expected to be at full strength for Saturday’s game against Central Washington.

Last Thursday night’s game against Humboldt State also proved to be exciting as SPU trailed Humboldt by as many as eight points in the first half. A pair of double-doubles from sophomore forward Kristin Poe and Berglund gave the Falcons the extra boost needed to regain the lead in the middle of the first half.

Shooting 76 percent from the line and four players posting double-double numbers was enough for the Falcons to take the victory over Humboldt. Berglund posted a double-double of 11 rebounds and 20 points. Poe grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds. The team had a balanced attack with Hughes and Urrutia posting double-digit scoring with 15 and 14 points, respectively.

"We just went out to play harder, because that’s all we really need to do," freshman forward Emily Faurholt said.

And play harder they did. With these back-to-back wins, the Falcons have renewed hope for the regional tournament on March 7-9. Hopes for the team are high as they come upon the end of the regular season. The women now look toward tournament play as a new challenge.

The Falcons’ close out their season at home on Saturday at 5 p.m. against Central Washington University.

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Title: Women improve playoff odds | Author: Derek Ghan | Section: Sports | Published Date: 2002-02-27 | Internal ID: 2524