Two losses drop SPU in the GNAC

Daniel Newman

Falcons plummet in the Great Northwest Athletic rankings after two detrimental losses last week.

The Seattle Pacific University Women’s basketball team could not pull off an upset last Thursday against Northwest Nazarene University, losing 82-64. Then, on Saturday, the Falcons took on Central Washington, and lost 77-70. SPU faced a tough test, having to take on the fifth ranked team in all of NCAA Division II women’s basketball on the road.

“NNU is a good team, … they are just very well coached, confident and they always play hard,” Falcons guard Riley Evans said.

In the first quarter, against NNU, after Evans hit a 3-pointer to put the Falcons up 7-6, the Nighthawks went on a 15-0 run. Nighthawks guard Carly Parker scored eight points during the stretch, hitting two 3-pointers. The run, which lasted seven minutes between two quarters, pushed the Nighthawks’ lead to 21-7.

“We just let them go on a 15-0 scoring run and that’s what hurt us,” Evans said. “If you take away those points during that period, we would have been right with them.”

Forward Cici West scored the next 10 points for SPU, attempting to close the gap between the two teams. But the Nighthawks were up to the challenge, responding to every basket with one of their own, including eight points from first-year guard Jordan Pinson. The Nighthawks held a 37-23 lead heading into the halftime break.

The Nighthawks continued controlling the game through the third quarter, extending their lead to 22 points a total of three times. Both teams used more of a balanced scoring attack in this quarter, as the leading scorers, Falcons guard Hailee Bennett and Nighthawks forward Maya Rodgers, both scored five points.

The fourth quarter of the game turned into a 3-point contest.

The Falcons, attempting to make some sort of a comeback, shot the ball six times from the 3-point line and hit four of them, getting two from Evans, and one each from Bennett and guard Madi Hingston. Unfortunately, the Nighthawks also made four 3-pointers out of their nine attempts, two from guard McKenna Walker and one each from guards Pinson and Ellie Logan.

The Falcons began to make a small dent in the lead, but ultimately ran out of time, and the Nighthawks won, preserving their undefeated record for the year.

The Falcons were led by Evans, who scored sixteen points, hitting four 3-pointers along the way. West came close to her fifth game on the season with double digit points and rebounds, adding 13 points and nine rebounds. Forward Natalie Hoff also had seven points and five rebounds off the bench, and guard Jaylee Albert had four assists.

A majority of the Nighthawks points came from off the bench, led by guards Pinson and Parker, who combined for 25 points off of 9-16 shooting, including 5-10 from the 3-point line, and 5 assists. As for the starters, Walker had 12 points, six rebounds and four assists, and guard Marina Valles had six points and six rebounds.

The Falcons would get a chance to bounce back against Central Washington on Saturday, and they started out keeping it close, trading baskets throughout the first quarter. The largest lead of the quarter was taken when Wildcat guard Alexis Pana and forward Taylor Shaw hit back to back 3-pointers to make the game 13-7. The Falcons came back quickly off a 3-pointer by guard Hingston, and a layup and free throw from guard Evans. The quarter ended with the Wildcats in front, 19-17.

The Wildcats went on a bit of a run to begin the second quarter, after two free throws by Pana, two layups by post Samantha Bowman, and a jumper from Kassidy Malcolm. The Falcons began the trek back, as West scored 10 points over the rest of the quarter. The Wildcats, paced by Pana and Bowman, kept up a 39-32 advantage at the break.

After halftime, Wildcats forward Kaelie Flores scored six straight points to spark the beginning of a quarter that would see the Falcons be outscored 23-13. Center Carly Rataushk scored five points in the quarter for the Falcons, but the Wildcats got to the free-throw line nine times in the quarter, hitting eight of them, including five that were made by forward Jonnae Richardson.

The Wildcats held a 62-45 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but the Falcons used a 16-3 run, lead by eight points from guard Ashley Alter, to close the gap to 65-61 with four minutes to go. Over the next two minutes, the Wildcats responded with a 7-1 run of their own after two more free throws from Richardson, a 3-pointer from guard Sadie Mensing, and a layup by Shaw.

The Falcons closed the gap to six points with 54 seconds to play, but that was as close as they could get, as they only made one out of the four shots that they took the rest of the way.

Evans said that the Falcons would have had to limit the Wildcats ability to get to the basket and limit scoring runs as much as possible in order to win.

The Falcons did a good job of countering the Wildcats scoring runs with scoring runs of their own, but it was the Wildcats ability to hit their free throws that ultimately did the Falcons in, making 23 of them over the course of the game.

The Falcons were led by an incredible performance from West, who scored 14 points, and grabbed 18 rebounds. Falcon guard Albert followed close behind with 12 points and 10 assists, and Evans added 13 points.

Alter also got into double figures for the first time this season with ten points.

The Wildcats were led by the 14 points and four assists of Pana, and Mensing added 12 points and seven rebounds. Richardson provided a spark off the bench, scoring 13 points, seven of which were free throws. Malcolm also grabbed 11 rebounds and scored six points.

The two losses knocked the Falcons a few places down in the conference standings. They now are tied for fifth place in the Greater Northwest Athletic Conference with Simon Fraser University and Montana State Billings, with a conference record of three wins and three losses.

Next up, the Falcons will head back home and take on Western Washington University on Thursday, who are in fourth place with a conference record of four wins and two losses, and Simon Fraser University on Saturday.