Incredible performances don’t always guarantee victory. Just ask senior guard Nyesha Sims, whose performance (26 points, 14 rebounds) ended in defeat. Sims was the star of Saturday’s matinee show at Royal Brougham Pavilion, a 63-62 overtime loss for Seattle Pacific.
The loss puts SPU at a record of 12-5 on the season and 6-3 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. The Falcons are currently tied with rival Western Washington for second place in the conference.
“We played hard and I’m proud of the way our team battled, but a loss is a loss. We will have some good practices next week and make the needed improvements,” head coach Julie Heisey said.
While the campus was closed due to the bizarre snowstorm for the majority of the week, SPU’s women’s basketball team also had a break. With two looming road games, the Falcons were able to rest and prepare for Saturday’s game against Montana State Billings. The Yellowjackets, who were 4-4 in conference play heading into the game, defeated the Falcons in both games last season.
The game had all the makings for a classic. It didn’t disappoint.
At the start, the Falcons caught the Yellowjackets off guard and jumped out to a quick 9-0 lead. However, the margin was quickly diminished as the momentum shifted. A few minutes and 14 missed shots later, the Falcons were on the wrong end of a 20-0 scoring run and trailed 21-11 with 7 minutes, 48 seconds remaining in the first half.
“We really let down defensively. We started out strong, but we got away from what we were doing defensively and [Billings] scored a few baskets which gave them confidence,” Heisey said.
It was apparent the Falcons needed to end this drought, but it remained unforeseen how it was going to happen. Sims took it upon her shoulders to carry the load for the night, igniting a comeback midway through the first half.
She ended the Yellowjackets’ scoring run with a two-point field goal. From there, she paced the Falcons to a steady comeback, scoring 13 first-half points.
The Yellowjackets closed out the first half with an 8-4 run. The score was 39-25. Although it was a double-digit deficit, the Falcons remained confident and sought ways to stage a comeback.
“We talked about finding ways to score and attack the basket. Defensively, we knew what was right, we just had to get back to it,” Heisey said.
Offensively, SPU utilized on-court leadership. For most of the second half, the Falcons had three seniors on the court, which was a rotation that consisted of Sims, guards Jordan Harazin and McKayla Gorman and post Joani Reimer.
“[The seniors] are super vital. They have been in the program for four years and do a great job leading,” Benson said.
Sims nailed a key 3-pointer, and Harazin followed with a 3-pointer of her own. On the next possession, Sims made another one from long range, which increased SPU’s score, but still left Billings in the lead, 51-48. Sophomore forward Katie Benson scored her first field goal of the game to give the Falcons a 55-53 advantage.
The Falcons extended the lead to four after Harazin and Sims each made a free-throw, but Billings tied the game and forced a turnover on SPU’s final possession.
With the game tied at 57, Billings had one final possession to win the game in regulation. On the play, Sims locked down Billings sophomore guard Bobbi Knudsen, who was averaging 16.8 points per game.
In the five-minute overtime period, Benson scored all of the Falcons’ five points while Sims held Knudsen at bay, denying Knudsen any points from the field.
However, it wasn’t enough, as Knudsen was fouled driving to the hoop and converted the deciding free-throw with four seconds left.
Although the nail-biting loss stung, the effect of it won’t be noticeable until the regional rankings come out in the upcoming week.
Still, Sims’ performance did not go unnoticed by her coach.
“She defended their two best players, [and she] was rebounding and scoring a lot. … [Sims] is playing with a sense of urgency and makes the most of each possession,” Heisey said.
The Falcons play two away games this week: tomorrow against Saint Martin’s in Lacey and Jan. 28 against Western Oregon in Monmouth, Ore.
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Title: Sims’ stellar game falls short in OT defeat | Author: Danny Ciaccio | Section: Sports | Published Date: 2012-01-25 | Internal ID: 7971