It was a predictable week for the Seattle Pacific University women’s basketball team, who went on the road to take on the two Alaskan universities in the Greater Northwest Athletic Conference. Hailee Bennett lead the team with 18 points on Thursday night in the 62-55 win against last place University of Alaska Fairbanks.
“When you are a young team like ours, wins on the road build confidence and character,” head coach Mike Simonson said.
The Falcons did start out quickly in Thursday’s game. Forward Cici West scored the first six points of the game for the team, as they hit five of their first seven shots. But the Nanooks and forward Marian Wamsley fought back, as Wamsley scored six straight points for her team to spark a 15-4 Nanooks run.
The Nanooks held a 29-25 lead at the end of the first half, helped in part by 14 Falcon turnovers. Guard Sabrina Ungaro had 11 points to lead the Nanooks, and Bennett lead the Falcons with eight.
The two teams traded baskets back and forth in the third quarter, but both teams went cold in the fourth quarter. The Nanooks didn’t manage to hit a field goal until the 5:32 mark of the quarter. Bennett hit a three pointer with four minutes to go to give the Falcons a nine-point lead, and guard Riley Evans hit a 3-pointer to give the Falcons a 60-51 lead with 39 seconds to go, essentially putting the game away.
A key to the win was the Falcons’ ability to limit their number of turnovers in the second half.
“In the first half we struggled to drive the basketball against Fairbanks due to poor spacing and this led to turnovers. At halftime we made adjustments [to] open up driving lanes. This allowed us to take care of the ball better,” Simonson said.
Bennett lead the Falcons with 18 points and five rebounds, and Evans contributed 13 points. Guard Jade Skidmore added seven points and four rebounds off the bench.
Wamsley had 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Nanooks, guard Emily Evans had 11 points, six rebounds and five assists, and guard Kylie Wallace had 10 points and five rebounds.
However, the team did not fare as well in their game last Saturday. Almost nothing went right in the Saturday’s matchup, a 78-37 loss to second place University of Alaska Anchorage. The Seawolves’ defensive pressure gave the Falcons fits, forcing 24 Falcon turnovers, and only allowing the Falcons to make 22 percent of their shots during the game.
The game against Alaska Anchorage on Saturday started similarly to the one against Alaska Fairbanks for the Falcons. Evans scored eight quick points for the Falcons, including hitting a three with 7:02 left in the first quarter to give the Falcons a 10-6 lead. That was the last shot the Falcons would make until Cici West made a basket with 7:35 left in the third quarter.
The Seawolves would show why they are the 10th ranked team in the nation, as they went a 44-8 run throughout the first half. Turnovers were again a problem for the Falcons, and they only made four of their 19 shots in the first half.
The Seawolves, on the other hand, made 61 percent of their shots in the half. They attacked the inside in the first quarter and moved to the three point line in the second quarter. When the dust settled, the Seawolves held a 50-18 lead.
The 32 point lead the Seawolves built up over the first half would not be one that the Falcons were able to overcome. Both teams struggled to score in the second half, making under 33 percent of their shots.
Evans, who lead the Falcons with 10 points, and guard Kaprice Boston, who had seven, were the only two Falcons to make more than one shot in the game. Guard Madi Hingston grabbed six rebounds off the bench.
The Seawolves were led by forward Hannah Wandersee’s 18 points. Guard Tara Thompson had 11 points and six rebounds, guard Sala Langi had 12 points, four rebounds and four assists, and guard Yazmeen Goo made five of her six shots for a total of 11 points, and added four assists.
The end of this week’s games marks the middle of conference play, and the Falcons remain tied with Western Washington University for fifth place in the conference, with five wins and five losses.
The Falcons will have to bounce back from this loss quickly, as they face Saint Martin’s University at home on Tuesday. The last time the two teams faced off, SPU pulled off a 68-64 win on the road in Lacey.
The Falcons will then play Montana State Billings at home on Thursday, who they lost to 72-64 on Jan. 5 in Billings.
Both of these games will be crucial for the Falcons to win if they want to move up in the standings.
“These upcoming games are so winnable,” Evans said. “We will watch tape, regroup and try our best to win on Tuesday and Thursday this week.”