Fresh start for GNAC tournament

Scores return to 0-0 for tournament opener Thursday

Samantha Ledbetter | The Falcon
Sophomore center Carly Rataushk waits for the pass as she slips around Western defender in Saturday afternoon’s Senior Night game at Royal Brougham.

After a dismal four-game consecutive losing streak, things were looking bleak for the Falcons.

In Thursday’s game against Concordia, SPU suffered another loss 70-62, increasing the down streak to five. Needing one game to assure their postseason chances, everything was riding on these final games.

The Falcons struggled to keep their momentum up through all four quarters of the Concordia game.

At the half they were only down by one, but they were unable to score for the first four minutes of the second quarter, and Concordia left the Falcons in the dust.

After two losses in Alaska, the women had hoped their home-court advantage would lead to a win, but it was to no avail.

That is, however, until their last game of the regular season.

On Saturday, the women’s basketball team was able to turn things around and finally secure the win they needed to continue on into the postseason, beating Western Oregon, 70-60.

The crowd was full of families and friends who came to support the Falcons on Senior Night, where all three graduating seniors were honored for their years of dedication to the team.

In a ceremony prior to tip-off, the families of the seniors walked out to the floor to celebrate all their accomplishments.

Samantha Ledbetter | The Falcon
Senior Brianne Lasconia looks for the open man at the top of the key on Saturday.

Senior guard Brianne Lasconia, who will graduate with a degree in business, had an all time season high of 34 steals this year.

“I think the thing I love about [Lasconia] is she is all heart,” Head Coach Julie Heisey said. “She is passionate about her teammates, and she is passionate about winning, and she just puts her heart out there, and that makes it a lot of fun.”

Senior guard Stacey Lukasiewicz, a three time elect to the GNAC all-academic team who is graduating with a 3.48 GPA and a degree in exercise science, served as a two-year co-captain and led the team in each and every game.

Heisey noted how Lukasiewicz does a “good job of being not only a leader by example, but being a vocal leader, whether that is articulating what needs to happen on the floor or just firing people up so we are all on the same page.”

“She has done an amazing job that way, and she is probably one of the best defenders I have coached and not just on the ball but off the ball,” Heisey added. “She is really smart, and she can really cover a lot of ground.”

Senior forward and guard Hannah Rodrigues, who has never missed a game in her four years as a Falcon, is a three-time member of the GNAC all-academic team. She will graduate with a 3.76 GPA and a degree in applied human biology.

Heisey said she admires Rodrigues’s quiet consistency. “She competes really hard, and she is not always going to be vocal, but you know she’s going to do what it takes to win,” Heisey said.

Stats aside, all three seniors said that at the end of the day, the relationships formed are what they will carry with them after graduation.

“That’s something I consider [myself] to be really lucky for, and I appreciate it because not everyone can say that at the end of their careers,” Lasconia said about the supportive team she has been a part of.

All three seniors started the game Saturday, and through their years of experience there was energy and poise from the tip off.

“We learned to rely and trust each other this year,” Lasconia said. “Being able to play selflessly and for one another. Giving each other confidence and building trust.”

Forcing the wolves into 16 steals, the Falcons had a season low nine turnovers. Rodrigues came away with eight rebounds and four steals, Lasconia scored eight points, and Lukasiewicz scored eight points, five rebounds, three assists, one steal and one blocked shot.

Their win advances them into the GNAC Tournament starting Thursday. The Falcons will take on Northwest Nazarene at St. Martin’s in Lacey, Washington. The game tips-off at 2:15 p.m.

“We have momentum,” Heisey said. “There is a lot of positivity there. We got our goal of getting to the tournament, and now it’s a new season, and we have a great opportunity.”

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