Tale of two halves

Men’s basketball splits northern road trip, gymnastics celebrates senior night

Daniel Newman, Sports Editor

In both games the men’s basketball team played this week, they had an average first half. Against Simon Fraser University Thursday, Feb. 20, the team exploded the second half and won 88-67. But against Western Washington University Saturday, Feb. 22, the Falcons only improved slightly in the second half, and it didn’t end up being enough as they lost for only the second time to a conference opponent all season, 73-68.


The Falcons first headed to Canada, and the game was back and forth for most of the first half, with SPU holding a six-point advantage at the halftime break. The Falcons sprinted out of the locker room and sprinted out to a 15-4 run, giving them a 17-point lead. The Falcons did not let up, scoring a total of 54 points in the half.


Junior Harry Cavell led the Falcons with 24 points, sophomore Divant’e Moffitt followed with 20 and sophomore Braden Olsen had 11 off the bench.


Othniel Spence had 24 for Simon Fraser and Jasdeep Singh had 21.


Most of the games the team played this season have not been relatively close, with the Falcons only playing two games where the teams finished within five points of one another. 


While the Falcons have not had much close game experience, they have been drilling those situations in practice according to Head Coach Grant Leep.


“The better we can teach, the better our guys will perform in those moments,” Leep said on Friday before the game.  


Still, the Falcons’ lack of experience in close games may have hurt them Saturday against the Western Washington Vikings. The Vikings jumped out to a quick lead, as the Falcons only made two of their first 17 shots to begin the game. 


The Falcons began to click, hitting 11 of 14 shots to end the half, pulling in front. Unfortunately, the Falcons gave the lead back to Western Washington, and the Vikings held a 71-68 lead with 24 seconds to go. 


The Falcons came out of a timeout and Cavell attempted a layup that missed. Falcons freshman Jacob Medjo attempted to grab a rebound, but batted the ball toward the out-of-bounds line. Cavell saved the ball from going out of bounds, but threw the ball right into the hands of a waiting Vikings player who hit two free throws to seal the win. 


Trevor Jasinsky led the Vikings with 22, while Moffitt and freshman Shaw Anderson paced the Falcons with 16 apiece.


“To win the conference is a huge accomplishment. We had set this as (a) goal of ours from the start of the season, so to hit that mark with two weeks to go is a testament to the toughness and togetherness of this team,” Leep said.


The Falcons have two home games left to close out the season, first against Northwest Nazarene Thursday, Feb. 27, and Central Washington University Saturday, Feb. 29.


The Falcons will use these games to tune up for the upcoming tournaments.


“We need to be prepared for whatever comes our way, and the closer we get to March, the crazier things seem to get,” Leep said. 


SPU’s four senior gymnasts, Sienna Brane, Darian Burns, Muyuki Matsune and Lena Wirth, celebrated their final meet at Royal Brougham Pavilion against San Jose State. While the Falcons did not come out ahead on the scoreboard, losing 194.900 to 191.925, all the seniors placed in their events. 


Burns won the floor exercise with a 9.925, the second best score in Falcon history. She also won the vault and uneven bars. Wirth tied for second on the vault, Brane tied for fourth on the bars and Matsune finished in sixth on the bars.


The Falcons women’s basketball team also had a midweek contest against Saint Martin’s University Tuesday, Feb. 18. 


The Falcons went down 15-5 early, but eventually retook the lead on freshman Bailey Brennan’s three-pointer to end the first half. But the back-and-forth game saw the Saints retake the lead and the Falcons never quite made the shot or got the stop they needed. The Saints won 63-58.


Brennan led the Falcons with 15, while Janealle Sutterlict had 16 for the Saints.