Coming off of a huge win against Alaska Anchorage two weeks ago, the SPU women’s basketball team took home two more victories on the road this week against Saint Martins (94-76) and Montana State Billings (66-50).
The game against Alaska Anchorage in Royal Brougham Pavilion on Saturday, Jan. 20 was the last conference game for the women’s basketball team.
“If we would have lost the game, we would be ranked third in the conference, but now we are tied for second place,” said women’s basketball head coach Julie Heisey. “It was a big finish, especially at home.”
Not only did the team earn a victory, but the Falcons also were named the conference’s Team of the Week (chosen from all sports currently in conference).
Along with the team recognition, senior Rachel Shim was named the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Week.
“We’re incredibly proud,” Heisey said of the fifth-year senior. “It’s so good to see her hard-work recognized.
There were times that she was not even able to walk due to injuries, and it’s been fantastic to see her fully recovered.”
During a regular season game against Point Loma Nazarene in 2015, Shim went down with a season-ending knee injury.
Now, as a senior, Shim scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, earning career-highs for both during the battle against Anchorage.
“It was great to be named player of the week, but it honestly couldn’t have happened without the hard work of the team,” said Shim. “That’s really what meant the most to me — we all came together to make history.”
Shim played hard the entire game, and especially shined in the third quarter, racking up 11 points.
“This game meant a lot to Rachel,” said Heisey. “As a fifth year, she’s lost to Anchorage so many times, and she came out determined to finally get a win.”
The team came off of a physical and mental high entering their Tuesday night game at Saint Martin’s University.
This was the Falcon’s third game in five days.
The Falcon’s were short a post, as senior Julia Haining was out sick, so the team played a slightly different line-up than usual, and adjusted to a zone defense.
Despite the changes, the Falcons scored their best shooting game of the year.
They beat their record of 87 points scored against Western Oregon on Dec. 2.
The team trailed behind in the first four minutes, but was ultimately able to double Saint Martin’s score of 15 at the end of the first quarter, 30-15. Saint Martin’s fought back hard in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Falcons by 12 points.
The Falcons collectively shot more than 50 percent, landing a total of 32 out of 62 shots.
Junior Riley Evans scored 20 points during the game against Saint Martin’s, breaking her personal record.
Evans hit seven out of 11 shots on the floor, with four of the five from the 3-point line.
“I think I am just playing with more confidence now,” Evans said. “The more I’ve been playing, the more confidence I am gaining because I hadn’t really been able to play for my first two years here due to injury.”
Heisey credits Evans performance in recent games as well.
“Even against Anchorage, Riley scored 13 points,” she said, “I’m really proud of her.”
On Saturday, Jan. 27, the Falcons played the Montana State Yellowjackets in Billings, Montana. At the end of the first half, SPU was down 33-25.
During the third quarter, however, the Falcons came back and outscored the Yellowjackets 28-5.
Senior Erica Pagano started the game in place of Julia Haining, who was still recovering from her illness, and scored 15 points. Guard Courtney Hollander sunk 18 points total.
Along with scoring 11 points, Jordan McPhee also tied her career high of five assists.
Montana State Billings’ player Alisha Breen is the top scorer in GNAC, averaging 20.2 points per game.
Throughout the game, the Falcons held Breen to only 13 points. In fact, they limited the Yellowjackets to their lowest scoring record of the season at only 16.7 percent in the second half.
“The game was great. We had foul trouble, sickness and other adversity that we had to fight through. Erica and Jaylee gave us a huge lift off the bench,” said Coach Heisey. This week, the team will battle on the road against Central Washington on Thursday, Feb. 1, and Northwest Nazarene on Saturday, Feb. 3.