Collecting championships, collecting bruises

Men’s basketball clinches GNAC regular season championships, women’s basketball sees three players go down to injury

Daniel Newman and Sabrina Jiles

This Week in Falcon Sports, the men’s basketball team clinched the GNAC regular season championships, women’s basketball played two close games and a few athletes from the track teams competed in the Husky Classic at the University of Washington this weekend. 


The Falcon men’s basketball team has been on a roll this season, having won 18 of their last 19 games. Entering the game Thursday, Feb. 13 against Montana State Billings University needing just one more win to clinch at least a share of the GNAC regular season championships. The Falcons saw the challenge ahead of them and answered the call in a resounding fashion, thumping the Yellowjackets 83-62. 


The Falcons were locked in a tough battle for the first 16 minutes of the game before they ripped off a 12-4 run to finish off the first half with a 36-24 lead. The team made five out of their eight shots during that time period. 


From there, the Falcons did not let up, beginning the second half on a 24-12 run that saw their lead extend to 60-36. The lead ballooned to as much as 29 before the game ended. The Falcons field goal percentage was good in the first half at 44%, but shot up to 64% in the second half. 


Leading the way for the Falcons were junior Harry Cavell and sophomore Braden Olsen with 15 points apiece. Sophomore Divant’e Moffitt scored 14 points as well.


“It’s been amazing,” freshman Filep Fullerton said of the season so far. “Last year at Portland State I was injured and I didn’t play, and it’s just been a great time this year to be able to play with a team like we have, a great team that loves doing what we do and we play our hearts out every time,” Fullerton said.


For the Yellowjackets, Brendan Howard had 15 points and Psalm Madukor had 11 off the bench. 


The Falcons have four games left to go in the regular season before entering the GNAC championships on March 5-7 at Royal Brougham Pavilion


“Just gotta win out, put ourselves in a good position for the playoffs,” Fullerton said of the final four games of the regular season. 


The women’s basketball team faced two tough tests this week, the first of which came when they faced off against the Western Oregon Wolves Thursday, Feb. 13. The Falcons were down by 12 points by the end of the first half, but were able to bounce back in the second half. This bounce back was crucial in the fourth quarter when the Falcons out-scored the Wolves 17-14. 


The Falcons had the cards stacked against them this game, as the Falcons lost three of their starters over the course of the game due to injury — junior Ashlynn Burgess, senior Hailee Bennett, and sophomore Ashley Alter. But that did not hinder the Falcons game, with senior Madi Hingston leading the team with eighteen points. Sophomore Natalie Hoff had fourteen points, and freshman Grace Sterk had seven points. 


The game came down to the wire, the two teams were tied 53-53 with 5.2 seconds left in the game. With the Falcons having possession of the ball, it was inbounded to junior Abril Rexach Roure who passed to Hoff. Hoff caught the ball and drained a wide-open free-throw line jumper to put the Falcons up with three tenths of a second left in the game.


“We had endless reasons to stop fighting and believing, but to see us rally together showed our character and ability to rally together to overcome adversity,” Mike Simonson, the women’s basketball Head Coach, said. 


Bennett returned for the Falcons in the next game against Concordia University Portland Saturday, Feb. 15, but it was not enough as the Falcons fell 59-54.


The Falcons held a 21-11 lead midway through the second quarter, but the Cavaliers finished the half on a 10-2 run to tighten the score once again. 


The game stayed close until Concordia pulled off a 14-3 run in the middle of the fourth quarter to extend their lead to 10 points. A final three pointer from Hingston made the score a little closer at the end, but the Falcons ultimately came up short in a game that they would have liked to win in order to have a shot at making it to the GNAC tournament. 


Hingston again led the Falcons with 18 points, and Concordia was paced by the 15 points of Olivia Vezaldenos and the 14 points of Dorcas Wu.


The Falcons are now two games out of a playoff spot with four games to go, and have two huge matchups coming up, as they face the two teams directly in front of them over the next two games. The Falcons will take on Saint Martin’s University Tuesday, Feb. 18, and Montana State Billings Saturday, Feb. 22. 


“Our backs are against the wall,” Simonson said. “Earlier in the year, our team talked about how we love to be challenged and rise to the occasion. We are excited to execute and continue to strive for our goal to make (the) GNAC tournament.”


Six Falcon track athletes hit the track at the Husky Classic Feb. 14-15. Most of the Falcons at the meet took part in the women’s 200-meter race. Sophomore Peace Igbonagwam finished in first with a time of 25.25 seconds, her second meet in a row winning an event. Senior Grace Bley finished in third and juniors Julia Stepper and Renick Meyer finished in fourth and twelfth, respectively.


Senior Scout Cai finished in third in the pole vault, and sophomore David Njeri finished in fifth in the triple jump. 


The two teams will head out to Nampa, Idaho next weekend Feb 21-22 to compete for the GNAC indoor track championships.