Falcons Return To Formula For Success In Quarterfinal Win
Play Video Rachel Shim scored 15 points, including 12 in the second half, leading the Falcons to a come-from-behind victory.
Rachel Shim scored 15 points, including 12 in the second half, leading the Falcons to a come-from-behind victory.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

LACEY, Wash. – Seattle Pacific made Thursday’s second quarterfinal a defensive battle, beating No. 4 Northwest Nazarene 71-60 at Marcus Pavilion with a 13-0 run to close the game to return to the GNAC Championships semifinals for the third time in five years.

The Falcons opened the year on an 11-game winning streak and had the nation’s best scoring defense at that point in the season. A slew of injuries, however, hindered that defense throughout conference play. The Falcons rediscovered that defense on Thursday afternoon as the Falcons (19-10) held Northwest Nazarene 17 points below its scoring average this season in their second consecutive victory over the Crusaders.

Seattle Pacific will next play against No. 1 Alaska Anchorage, which enters Friday’s semifinal at 2:15 p.m. with an undefeated record against all NCAA Division II competition and a program-record 23-game winning streak.

The quarterfinal contest featured eight lead changes and five ties, but the Falcon defense didn’t allow Northwest Nazarene (12-15) any points in the final 4:43 of the game to pull off the fourth-quarter comeback. The Falcons remain undefeated in the 2016-17 season when holding opponents to less than 68 points.

"It's tournament, time, and we just want to survive and advance, and that's what we did," SPU head coach Julie Heisey said. "NNU is one of the hardest teams to guard. They can score a lot of points, and that's one of the things we've struggled with. So I feel really good knowing we held them to 60 points, especially knowing they had 18 offensive rebounds and 17 points from the free throw line."

Seattle Pacific had to get out of its own offensive funk in the fourth quarter, making just one field goal in the first seven minutes of the final frame. Erica Pagano was the one to provide the offensive boost, making a field goal to tie the game at 60-60 with 2:45 left in the game.

Hannah Rodriguez gave the Falcons the lead for good after taking a pass from Rachel Shim in the paint and knocking down the jumper. Shim then added to the lead, making a pair of free throws to start a string of nine free throws made in 10 attempts for SPU to ice the quarterfinal victory.

Northwest Nazarene’s Maya Rodgers led all scorers with 18 points, including 13 points in the second quarter alone. The sophomore transfer from University of Denver went 4 for 5 from the field, including a perfect 3 for 3 from 3-point territory with two free throws to hand the Crusaders a 36-30 lead at halftime.

The Falcons answered that with a balanced offensive effort in the third quarter to rack up 24 points, led by Shim’s six points and two assists. Jordan McPhee also scored three of her team-best 15 points in the third quarter, giving the Falcons a three-point edge going into the fourth quarter. Pagano added 12 points and six rebounds.

Seattle Pacific’s regular season leader in points and rebounds, Courtney Hollander, missed the final four games of the regular season with a left knee injury, but got 20 minutes of playing time off the bench and registered six rebounds, which equaled the most on the team and added five points, including a crucial trey in the third quarter.