Simon Fraser gets first NCAA tourney win, beating Northwest Nazarene
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -– No. 2 Simon Fraser won the first NCAA tournament game in program history on Saturday, defeating the seventh-ranked Northwest Nazarene Crusaders 68-57 in the opening round of the NCAA West Regional.
“I thought we came out in the first half and moved the ball very well,” said Head Coach Bruce Langford. “We had good movement offensively which got us a lot of open shots. When we do that we normally have a fair number of threes and shoot at a good percentage.”
Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe led the Clan with a double-double, scoring a game high 23 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. She was dominant in the first half, scoring 18 points.
“Nayo did a good job of finishing inside, especially in the first half. I thought we did a good job of getting her the ball and that got us off to a good start,” continued Langford.
She was eight for 11 from the field and seven for 10 from the free throw line.
“I just wanted to come with intensity and focus,” said Raincock-Ekunwe. “The last couple of games my shooting percentage wasn't where I want it to be so that's something I came into the game focusing on. We've been inconsistent recently and I was proud of how the team came into this game.”
Erin Chambers followed with 22 points, going a perfect four for four from the free throw line and six for nine from beyond the arc.
Kristina Collinsled SFU with five assists and tied for the team lead with Raincock-Ekunwe in steals with three.
Chelsie Luke led the Crusaders with 22 points and Megan Hingston had a double-double for NNU, scoring 13 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
In the opening 20 minutes of play, the Clan shot 45 percent from the field, 54 percent from three point range and 75 percent from the free-throw line.
The Clan outscored NNU in the paint 26-22, off of turnovers 23-21, on second chance points 10-9 and the Clan bench outscored NNU's 10-6 in the game.
SFU opened the scoring 1:32 into the game when Collins hit a three pointer. The Clan set the tone early, opening on an eight to two run to open up an early lead.
With 9:24 to play in the opening half, Kia Van Laare hit a three to open up the Clan's largest lead of the half at 15.
The Clan rode their strong shooting into the locker rooms with an 11-point, 41-30 halftime lead.
SFU's lead got as high as 17, on three separate occasions in the second half.
NNU played strong in the late stages of the game, cutting the Clan lead to eight with 1:04 to play but that was as close as the Crusaders would get as Katie Lowen and Chambers hit late free throws to seal the Clan's 11-point victory.
“NNU is a very gritty team. They're a team that constantly is finding ways to get momentum, then they live off of it. If they lose it, they don't quit as long as they have a chance to get it back,” Langford said.
The win means the Clan advance to Monday's regional semifinal game which will be played at noon against the No. 6 Grand Canyon Antelopes at Sam Carver Gymnasium in Bellingham.
Saturday's win was the first in a national tournament for the program since leaving Canadian Interuniversity Sport after the 2009-10 season.
“We left the CIS three years ago and we got decimated, losing players that weren't supposed to graduate who lost eligibility in the move. Three kids stuck around (Raincock-Ekunwe, Collins and Carla Wyman) and we were basically a junior varsity team our first year in the NCAA. We knew we were going to take some beatings along the way so it's kind of nice to be where we are now,” finished Langford.