Benson's milestones lift Seattle Pacific to upset of eighth-ranked Simon Fraser
SEATTLE -- Katie Benson poured in a career-high 32 points and passed the 1,000-point mark for her career on Thursday as Seattle Pacific defeated No. 8 Simon Fraser 70-60 in Great Northwest Athletic Conference play.
Junior forward Benson broke her previous career high of 24, which she had set twice. She became the 20th player in SPU history and the 52nd in the history of the GNAC to pass 1,000 points.
Benson also is the first Falcon player to record 30 or more points in a game since Daesha Henderson notched 30 on Feb. 27, 2010 against Central Washington. Henderson also was the last Falcon to break 1,000 points, finishing her career in 2010 with 1,051.
“It's great, but I'm just so happy that we won,” Benson said. “It wouldn't have been fun if I had those accomplishments and we lost. I'm a post player, so I owe everything to Aubree [Callen], the guards, Mechela [Barnes] – all of them. They did an amazing job of giving me the ball with great passing, and I was able to finish.”
Benson also capped a double-double – her fifth of the season and 10th of her career – by grabbing 10 rebounds.
Sophomore guard Suzanna Ohlsen and Callen added 11 points apiece for the Falcons (14-8, 8-6 GNAC). Callen also had eight rebounds and eight assists – including the assist on Benson's 1,000th point late in the first half. Barnes chipped in 10 points, and banked in a 3-pointer from at least 25 feet away at the first-half buzzer to wipe out Simon Fraser's last lead and create a halftime tie at 34.
|KATIE BENSON VS. SIMON FRASER (2-14-13)|
|*Benson surpassed 1,000 career points (1,022).|
“I feel like our kids have been growing and doing things right, but haven't gotten the reward of a win,” SPU coach Julie Heisey said. “We really talked this week about what this win would mean for us. We're in a different place – we're healthy and we've had a couple weeks of having everybody back with some continuity.”
Callen put Seattle Pacific in front for good with a turnaround lay-in at the outset the second half, breaking a 34 tie. Seattle Pacific stretched its lead out to seven at 43-36, and the closest Simon Fraser (17-4, 10-3 GNAC) came after that was 50-46 with 11 minutes to play.
“We just saw it as, 'We're tied, it's a new game, let's go out and take it,'” Benson said. “We just came out strong, and with that, we just didn't look back.”
Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe, the GNAC's leading scorer and rebounder, had a double-double of 21 points and 11 boards before fouling out with 31.7 seconds remaining. But the Falcons limited her to just four points during the second half on 2 of 7 shooting. Raincock-Ekunwe hit 10 of 18 for the game.
The victory was SPU's first against a nationally ranked team since beating then-No. 8 Alaska Anchorage on Feb. 2, 2012 in Brougham Pavilion 67-62.
Benson passed the 1,000-point mark with 7:01 left in the first half. She stole the ball in backcourt and handed it off to Callen. Benson broke into the clear, took a return pass from Callen, and laid it in for a 23-22 SPU lead. That capped a 9-0 scoring run and put the Falcons in front for the first time in the game.
The basket was part of a 13-2 SPU surge that took the Falcons from 22-14 down to 27-24 in front. Simon Fraser eventually moved back in front by three, the last time at 34-31. But Barnes launched a straight-away shot from way downtown that beat the buzzer and knotted it at 34.