All good things must come to an end, and this saying is especially true in the sports world.
In the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2013, SFU was just one win away from the Elite Eight. Two days after pulling off the upset of the tournament, the Clan was looking to play spoiler once more — this time to the California Baptist Lancers.
After getting up to a 10-point lead near the end of the first quarter and looking in control, SFU faltered. They were outscored 23–6 the rest of the half, and although the Clan made things interesting in the second half by tying things up, the Lancers proved too much in the end.
The final score ended up being 77–64, ending SFU’s season four months and nine days after it officially began.
The game started out well for SFU. After trailing by four early on, the Clan went on a 23–9 run to take a 10-point lead late in the first, before the Lancers battled back to cut it to six. Ozi Nwabuko led the way in the first quarter, going a perfect 5–5 from the field and finishing with 10 points.
In the second quarter, the Clan only scored six points compared to Cal Baptist’s 17. The Lancers really turned it on near the end, scoring back-to-back threes that really put SFU on its heels.
SFU was down by seven, but there weren’t any alarm bells ringing yet. SFU was still shooting better from the field as well as from three-point land — the difference was Cal Baptist went 12–13 in free throw attempts. In contrast, SFU didn’t get to the line once.
The Clan came out in the second half determined, and did a great job drawing offensive fouls to start. A layup from Rachel Fradgley and a deep three from Elisa Homer brought SFU to within three. After that, Homer once again knocked down a triple to tie it at 44, before the teams traded baskets to tie it at 46.
For nearly two minutes after that, neither team scored — the game was up for grabs. Cal Baptist eventually took advantage, ending the quarter with five points and outscoring SFU 26–18 in the final frame.
Both teams shot exactly 37.1% from the field. However, what ended up being the deciding factor was the Lancers’ ability to get to the line. They scored 22 of their 77 from free throws, shooting at 91.7%. Compare that to SFU, who went only 5–8 from the line — a significantly lower 62.5% clip.
In the team’s final game of the season, it seemed fitting that SFU was led by players who will likely be leaned upon for next season — however far in the future that seems from now.
Sophomore Tayla Jackson had an incredibly efficient 15 points, two blocks, and two rebounds in 14 minutes played coming off the bench. Rachel Fradgley nearly had a double-double, finishing with 12 points and eight boards in 17 minutes.
A senior next year, Elisa Homer played 34 minutes and had 14 points, including four threes. GNAC Freshman of the Year Ozi Nwabuko had 11 points, 10 of which came in the first quarter.
But for two players, this marked the end of their collegiate careers. In Ellen Kett’s final game, she played 39 of the game’s 40 minutes and had 3 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals — another typical all-around performance from her.
She will go down as arguably SFU’s best-ever player in the NCAA era — and one can certainly make the case perhaps one of the best in the whole history of the program.
Her records for most assists in a season and single game will probably not be broken for quite some time, if ever. Her passing ability made the players on the floor with her that much better, and there is no doubt she will be greatly missed next year.
And for Meg Wilson — not able to play in the game due to a finger injury — her versatility will need to be replaced. Sophie Swant seemed to be capable throughout the three games she started in her place, but that was a very small sample size. The Clan’s leading scorer and rebounder during the regular season, Wilson will leave some big shoes to fill for next year.
But for now, it is time to reflect on truly a season to remember for the women’s basketball program. Their 26 wins set a record in the team’s NCAA era, and was 10 wins better than the year previous. Although it is a bitter pill to swallow now, this year will be looked at fondly in due time from all involved.