The Simon Fraser University women's basketball team advanced to the NCAA West Region title game after defeating the Grand Canyon University Antelopes on Monday, 76-59.
"I thought we did a good job of containing their two big scorers," said SFU head coach Bruce Langford. "Judy Jones is obviously a great driver and we tried to clog up the lane and give her some problems in there. We didn't want Maylinn Smith to go off on threes and I thought we contested them pretty hard. I was pleased with our defensive intensity the whole game."
The Clan will face either the NO.1-ranked Western Washington Vikings or the sixth-ranked Cal State Monterey Bay Otters at 6 p.m. on Tuesday. The Vikings and Otters face off in the other semi-final later today.
Kristina Collins led the Clan in scoring with 19 points and five assists. Collins was five-for-seven from beyond the arc in the game, four-for-four from the charity stripe while also adding three rebounds and two steals.
"I liked our mental and physical preparation," said Collins. "We took care of our bodies on our off day and were ready to come out and play hard. I was excited about my shooting. I wasn't thinking about it but I felt good and the shots seemed to come naturally."
Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe followed with 15 points and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.
Erin Chambers and Katie Lowen each had 11 points. Chambers also had a team-high three steals and was a perfect four-for-four from the field, including two three pointers.
SFU shot 57 percent in the game, 53 percent from beyond the arc and 80 percent from the free-throw line, while GCU could only manage 36 percent shooting.
The Antelopes had three players in double digits, as Smith had 17 points, Jones had 15 and Jasmine Cannon had 11.
A strong first half was key in the Clan's win as Simon Fraser outscored GCU 42-26 in the opening 20 minutes.
With the Clan women leading 23-20 with 7:54 remaining in the opening half, Raincock-Ekunwe hit a jumper that sparked a 10-0 run for the Clan.
By the end of the half, the Clan took a 16-point lead into the locker room.
"Despite the lead we didn't do a good job on the boards in the first half. We tried to fix that in the second half and reinforce what we were doing with their two top players," said Langford.
SFU capitalized on turnovers in the first half, outscoring the Antelopes 16-2 in that category.
The Clan lead got as high as 24 points in the second half when Raincock-Ekunwe hit a jumper with 10:39 remaining.
With 24 seconds left, Lowen put in a layup to wrap things up, giving the Clan a 17 point victory.
Simon Fraser now moves on to the Sweet 16 on Tuesday at 6 p.m. for the NCAA West Region title game against the winner of WWU and CSU Monterey Bay.
"Whoever advances to tomorrow's final is obviously going to be a very good team and will be ready to compete. Right now we need to sit back, relax and enjoy ourselves. We got to play the game that I like to play, which is the first one and now we can watch to find out who we've got in the next one," finished Langford.
SFU will be sending a free bus to Bellingham for the game, departing at 3 p.m. Fans interested in going on the bus should email firstname.lastname@example.org as space is limited.