Falcons rebound after loss at Simon Fraser; defeat rival Western

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All good things come to an end. That statement held true for Seattle Pacific’s women’s basketball team, but only briefly. Their five-game winning streak came to an end on Thursday when they played at Simon Fraser.

The Falcons (14-5, 7-4 GNAC) knew that the road trip was going to be vital part of their season. After their game at SFU, they had to go up to play archrival Western Washington on Saturday.

Before last weekend, SFU and SPU were tied for third in the GNAC while WWU and Montana State Billings were tied for first.

Going on the road to play two of the top three teams in the GNAC over one weekend would prove to be no easy task.

SFU and SPU went back and forth in their game until the Clan went on a 17-2 run late in the second half. With 9:25 left in the game, the game was as close as 49-48 in favor of the Clan, but then they didn’t look back from there.

The Falcons defense seemed to break down from that point on. SFU was able to get some easy points and SPU wasn’t executing well enough on offense anymore.

“We just made some mistakes,” head coach Julie Heisey said. “They [SFU] got an open layup and an open three on back-to-back possessions, and they just got on a roll until they got 20 points in just four minutes.”

The Clan went on to win the game 77-68, surprising because they led 76-57 with only 2:40 left in the game. Despite SPU’s efforts to stage a miraculous comeback, they weren’t able to pull this one out.

A detail that was overshadowed by the loss last Thursday was the return of sophomore forward Maddey Pflaumer. The team has dealt with a lot of injuries this year, and having Pflaumer back was helpful in adding depth to the roster. This would play a bigger factor in the game at Western.

Going into the game on Saturday, SPU was tied for fourth in the GNAC. Western was tied for second. As if this rivalry couldn’t get any bigger, both of these teams are playing at very high levels of basketball.

This game would end up being a typical SPU-WWU matchup. It was a scrum. A battle. Intense. Neither team was going to back down until the final buzzer sounded.

With eight minutes left in the first half, SPU had gotten out to an 18-17 lead and would build off of it from there. But WWU was not going to roll over in this game.

Senior forward Katie Benson, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, barely played two minutes in the first half before she had two fouls against her. This led Heisey to bench her for the rest of the first half.

The key factor for SPU being able to build on to their lead was Pflaumer and freshman forward/guard Hannah Rodrigues being able to come off the bench and play valuable minutes.

“Being able to get in there and have fresh legs was crucial for our team,” Pflaumer said. “I was able to be a new source of energy and help some of my other teammates rest more during the game.”

Pflaumer would end up tallying six points and four rebounds while Rodrigues would add four points, four assists and five rebounds.

The Falcons would extend their lead to 39-23 early on in the second half before the Vikings started to draw closer. With 2:05 left in the game, WWU was able to bring the game to 59-54. With 45 seconds left, it was just 66-60.

But that night would belong to the Falcons as they went on to close out the game 68-62. Although the Vikings had a 26-game winning streak at home before last weekend, the Falcons made it two losses in a row at home for WWU.

“Western is always just a huge game for us,” Heisey said. “Being able to beat them at Western was huge and great for momentum going forward.”

The Falcons now find themselves in a four-way tie for second now with Alaska Anchorage, Simon Fraser and Western Washington. Each of them is two games behind Montana State Billings for first.

The team has a bye next Thursday before hitting the road once again as they travel to Billings in what will be another huge showdown on Saturday.

This article was posted in the section Sports.