Women remain perfect in 2006

A weekend away produced two wins for the women’s basketball team from Seattle Pacific University, improving the Falcons’ record to 12-4 overall, 6-1 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC).

Last Thursday, the Falcons traveled to Arcata, Calif., where they defeated the Lumberjacks of Humboldt State University (HSU) 76-56, in a game in which senior guard Mandy Wood tied her career-high with 27 points. Wood delivered a remarkable performance despite dealing with a hand injury that has plagued her since early December.

Regarding her injury, Wood said, "If it was affecting how I played, I would consider taking some time off, but I don’t think it affects my game physically, although sometimes it does put a strain on me mentally."

She added, "But knowing that it is my last year keeps me going."

Wood, with five 3-pointers, led a Falcon offense that shot 45 percent from behind the 3-point arc, helping extend what was only a six-point lead at halftime into double digits early in the second half. The Falcons never looked back, as another solid defensive effort held the Lumberjacks to 33 percent shooting from the field for the game, while out-rebounding HSU 51-33.

The Lumberjacks’ leading scorer in the loss was forward Jenna Washington with 20, while guard Katie Wilder added 17 points of her own.

For SPU, senior guard Jenny Poe contributed ten points and also led the team in rebounding with eight. Coming off the bench, junior forward Rachel Strand also added 10 points in the victory on the road.

While the Falcons continue to hold an outstanding home winning streak, they have delivered with some solid victories on the road this year as well.

"Road trips are always rough with all the sitting in airplanes and cars, and the schedule changes. The gyms can also be hard, different hoops, small crowds, and different atmosphere. I think our team does well when we get rest and focus on the game. On away games, you have to come out sharp and work hard just like in any game," senior center Brittney Kroon said.

The Falcons did just that on Saturday, when they traveled to Monmouth, Ore., to face the Western Oregon University (WOU) Wolves, who have gone winless so far this season.

Uncharacteristically, the outside shots would not fall for the Falcons at WOU, but solid inside play allowed SPU to struggle to an eight-point lead at halftime, after trailing the Wolves early in the half.

To begin the second half, Kroon scored the Falcons’ first three baskets, giving SPU a double-digit advantage that it would never again lose, as the Falcons came away from Monmouth with 65-45 victory.

Kroon finished with a team-leading 16 points along with seven blocks, while senior forward Carli Grant earned a double-double, scoring 12 points and gathering 11 rebounds. In addition, freshman center Kelsey Hill came off the bench to contribute 12 points.

"Kelsey has been a great addition to this team. She works hard, and you see that in how she plays," Kroon said of her fellow post player.

She added, "It is hard to come in as a freshman and have so much expected of you, but Kelsey has done a great job of stepping up to the challenge."

For the Wolves, Ali Crumb led all scorers with 18 points in the losing effort. Kori Seymour also scored eight points and grabbed eight rebounds.

In the end, SPU outscored WOU 34-14 in the paint, helping the Falcons to overcome an unusual 15 percent shooting performance from the 3-point line.

Still, the Falcons played another impressive defensive game, holding the Wolves to 31 percent shooting from the field, the fifth straight game in which the SPU defense has held their opponents to under 40 percent shooting.

"From the beginning of this year, one of our main goals has been to play strong team defense. We have been working towards that all along and with each game and practice are getting better," Kroon said of the team’s superb defense.

"Our focus this year has been on defense. Our shot may not always fall, but we can control our defense… The last three weeks, we have been getting the job done defensively, and that in turn sparked our offense," Wood said.

The victories keep SPU one game behind conference-leading Western Washington, who is undefeated in GNAC play.

The Falcons will bring their hard-working defense home this weekend as they look to extend their winning streak at Royal Brougham, where SPU will face off against Alaska Fairbanks on Thursday and Alaska Anchorage on Saturday.

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Title: Women remain perfect in 2006 | Author: Matt Woods | Section: Sports | Published Date: 2006-01-25 | Internal ID: 4804