The Seattle Pacific University women’s basketball team played two hard fought games against tough competition in the Sodexo Classic last weekend, but came up short in both of them.

The Falcons first played Azusa Pacific University on Friday night, and lost 67-58. The following day, the Falcons took on the University of California San Diego Tritons, and lost 83-72.

Riley Evans, a senior guard for the Falcons, thinks that playing tough competition will help the team out in the long run. “Playing in tight games has definitely taught us to play under pressure and the need to take care of the ball.”

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Jaylee Alber guards the ball from the Cougars. Alison Meharg | The Falcon

The Falcons got out to a pretty good start on Friday night, taking a quick 6-0 lead on 3-pointers by guard Jaylee Albert and center Carly Rataushk, but the Azusa Pacific Cougars quickly closed the deficit to three points by the end of the first quarter
The two teams battled back and forth in the second quarter, exchanging the lead five times. The Cougars began to go on a bit of a run with 1:10 left in the quarter, after a 3-pointer by guard Rachel Bozlee, and four free throws from guard Zoe March on two separate trips to the line. The Cougars used this run to take a 33-25 lead into the half.
The Falcons could not do much to close the gap in the third quarter. The closest they got was when Jaylee Albert hit a 3-pointer to close the score to 46-40 in favor of the Cougars. The Cougars then used a free throw from guard Savanna Hanson and a 3-pointer from forward Laura Pranger to get the lead back up to ten and had a 55-43 lead at the end of the quarter.

After the Falcons again closed the lead to seven in the fourth quarter, the Cougars responded with a 9-1 run, with three Savanna Hanson jumpers and a 3-pointer from guard Lydia Nieto to make the game 67-52. The Falcons only scored six more points over the remaining 4:28, and the Cougars walked away with the win.

Rebounding was a big part of the game, as the Falcons were outrebounded 52-39, and 19-6 on the offensive glass. Savanna Hanson led the way for the Cougars with 15 points, and also grabbed ten rebounds, while Laura Pranger had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
For the Falcons, guard Jaylee Albert had a career high 25 points, and led the team in assists with 4. Freshman forward Natalie Hoff led the Falcons with 12 rebounds.

The next night against the UCSD Tritons, the Falcons struggled a bit out of the gate, making one out of three shots and turning the ball over twice to start the game.

However, the Falcons used good defense, and were sparked by seven points from guard Riley Evans to be down by two, 20-18, at the end of the quarter.

The Falcons fought hard the entire second quarter, taking the lead briefly before surrendering it back to the Tritons. The quarter ended with both teams having scored 16 points, bringing the total to 36-34.

The Falcons and Evans had a huge third quarter, with Evans scoring 13 of the Falcons 24 points in the quarter in a span of three minutes. The Falcons led 51-42 with 5:43 remaining in the quarter, but the Tritons used a 3-pointer a piece from guards Emily Cangelosi, Joleen Yang and Brianna Claros to close the gap to three points by the end of the quarter, with the score being 58-55 in favor of the Falcons.

With 8:22 left in the fourth quarter, and the Falcons holding a two-point lead, Yang took over. Yang scored 13 points in roughly four minutes, hitting three 3-pointers along the way. Forwards Haleigh Hatfield and Mikayla Williams combined to score the Tritons next nine points. It was all part of a 24-9 run that put the game to rest.

In the first half, the two teams both made about 44 percent of their shots. But in the second half, the Tritons made 51 percent of their shots, while the Falcons made 43 percent.

The Tritons were paced by 25 points from Yang and 20 points from Williams. Hatfield had 10 points and grabbed a total of 16 rebounds. Brianna Claros had six assists off the bench for the Tritons.

The Falcons were led by a career high 27 points from Riley Evans, who is stepping more into a leadership role this year after coming off the bench last year.

“It’s been fun to play day in and day out with my teammates and I’m just trying to soak it all up before it’s over,” Evans said. I love that as a senior I can be a leader for others and help them with whatever they need on and off the court.”

Guard Jaylee Albert also scored 14 points for the Falcons. Forward Cici West had 11 points and eight rebounds, and guard Madi Hingston made all three of her shots, and totaled eight points coming off the bench.

With Thanksgiving coming up, the Falcons will only play one game next week. It will be at home on Tuesday, Nov. 20, against the Holy Names Hawks. The Hawks are a part of the Pacific West Conference, and both teams will be looking for their first win on the season.

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