While for most Seattle Pacfic University students winter break is a chance to recharge their batteries, catch up on sleep and spend time with family and friends, the SPU women’s and men’s basketball teams were called to action.
The men’s team played three games over winter break, coming up victorious in every contest as they rebound nicely from a tough start to the 2019-2020 campaign. The break was also a successful one on the women’s side as the team went 3-1, including a much needed conference victory against Alaska Fairbanks.
As the SPU women’s team finished finals, they all were missing one important thing: a win on the court.
The Falcons entered the break and their game against the Golden Eagles of California State Los Angeles with an 0-8 record, and badly needing to get a win under their belts. Fortunately, they did just that, beating Cal State LA 80-67.
The Falcons started off slow as they trailed 12-11 following the first quarter. Despite trailing, the team kept on fighting and held a slim one-point lead through three quarters before pulling away in the fourth. The team was led by junior guard Hailee Bennett’s superb 29-point, 9-rebound performance, while junior forward Ashlyn Burgess dropped a 14-point, 10-rebound double-double.
Head Coach Mike Simonson pointed to the plays of Bennett and Burgess as one of the reasons for the wins over break.
“They were steady scoring threats in all of our wins. They took a lot of pressure off of the rest of the team and allowed everyone to break free,” Simonson said.
After a 76-50 win against the Academy of Art, and a 78-47 loss to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the Falcons were given a chance to rebound two days later as the Nanooks of Alaska Fairbanks came to Royal Brougham.
The beginning of this contest did not go the Falcons way as Fairbanks took an early 26-14 lead. Despite the rough beginning, the Falcons flipped the script over the next three quarters and finished with a resounding 83-70 victory.
SPU was led by their stars as Ashlyn Burgess and Hailee Bennett scored 27 and 23, respectively. Burgess also contributed 11 rebounds to give her two double-doubles in four games. Freshman post Kayla Brundidge also collected a solid 10-point, 12-rebound double-double to add her contribution to the successful effort.
Meanwhile, the men continued their winning streak over the break.
After a 103-74 win against the University of Puget Sound, the men faced the University of Alaska Anchorage. The Seawolves came to Royal Brougham on the second day of the new year for a critical early season matchup of GNAC’s elite. Both teams came into the contest undefeated in conference play with the Seawolves holding a 9-4 record, as opposed to the Falcons 6-4 record.
The game was a nail-biter at the start as the first half finished with the Falcons having a tight 38-36 advantage. Fortunately for the nerves of the Falcon fans in the building, Seattle Pacific pulled away and ultimately won the game 83-76, without incredible drama in finishing it off, always maintaining a safe lead by making clutch baskets down the stretch.
The Falcons were buoyed by sophomore guard Divant’e Moffit’s 18 points and 5 assists, along with junior guard Harry Cavell’s near double-double with 14 points and 9 rebounds. They would score another victory against Alaska Fairbanks two days later, as freshman forward Shaw Anderson scored a career high of 33 points.
While students recently returned to campus, the basketball season continued.
While the women had some success over break, they were unable to come away with a win on their road trip up north, facing Simon Fraser University and Western Washington University and losing 71-54 and 73-60, respectively.
Senior Madi Hingston led the Falcons in scoring for both games with 14 points, then 15 points.
“Unfortunately in both games we played well for three quarters but not a complete game,” Simonson said. “This week we are focusing on getting defensive stops followed by scoring possessions. Back to back possessions of stops and scores are important to stop opponent runs and start our own,” Simonson said.
The Falcon men continued and extended their winning streak to 10 games after defeating Concordia University and Western Oregon University 80-55 and 98-88 in overtime.
The Falcons began by dominating Concordia, the team in last place in the GNAC. Senior Gabe Colossimo had his best game since returning from injury, scoring 17 points off the bench. In the game against Western Oregon, one of the top teams in the conference, the Falcons were down 67-57 with 9 minutes to go before they made their comeback and forced overtime.
In the overtime, it was all Falcons, as Sophomore guards Divant’e Moffitt and Braden Olsen worked together to score 14 of the Falcons 22 overtime points. Freshman Shaw Anderson set his new collegiate career high for scoring, scoring 17 of his 34 points in the first half.
The team would again win on Tuesday the 14th, as they defeated Saint Martin’s University 87-63, marking the eleventh straight win for the team.
This week, the men will take on Montana State University Billings on Saturday, Jan. 18 at 2 p.m. at Royal Brougham Pavilion. The women will take on two conference opponents at home this week in Concordia Portland Thursday, Jan. 16 at 7 p.m. and Western Oregon Jan. 18 at 4:15 p.m.