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Wildcats gear up for first meeting with the Clan

Kassidy+Malcolm+%28SO%29+passes+the+ball+to+teammates+during+the+game+on+Saturday+afternoon.
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Wildcats gear up for first meeting with the Clan

Kassidy Malcolm (SO) passes the ball to teammates during the game on Saturday afternoon.

Kassidy Malcolm (SO) passes the ball to teammates during the game on Saturday afternoon.

Kassidy Malcolm (SO) passes the ball to teammates during the game on Saturday afternoon.

Kassidy Malcolm (SO) passes the ball to teammates during the game on Saturday afternoon.

Micah Chen, Staff Reporter

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Correction 1/18/19: This story originally stated the game was taking place this week and on this Thursday. Both instances have been changed to Jan. 24.

The CWU women’s basketball team is hoping they can take care of business on the road on Jan. 24 against conference rival Simon Fraser.

Anytime you play a conference game, there are playoff implications on the line. Currently, CWU holds a slim two game lead over Simon Fraser in the GNAC standings.

Head women’s basketball coach Randi Richardson-Thornley believes that Simon Fraser will be one of their toughest opponents yet.

“They have a lot of returning kids,” Richardson-Thornley said. “They’re a team that has notoriously been successful in the GNAC.”

If CWU is going to win this game, they’re going to need key contributors to continue stepping up.

5-foot-11 sophomore forward Kassidy Malcolm and 5-foot-9 junior guard Alexis Pana have been breakout players for the Wildcats this year.

Right now Malcolm is second in the GNAC in rebounding with an average of 9.1 rebounds per game, and a total of 118 over the season.

Pana is averaging 14.9 points per game which is the best record on the team and fourth overall in the conference. That’s not to say that Simon Fraser doesn’t boast their own high talent level.

The Clan’s starting lineup is highlighted by 5-foot-11 senior guard Sophie Swant. The MVP candidate is averaging a quality 13.8 points per game and 5.6 rebounds per game.

CWU forward Kaelie Flores knows the importance of taking care of the fundamentals against a team of Simon Fraser’s caliber.

“We just need to do what we do,” Flores said. “Expand our offense and make stops on defense.”

Outside of executing the game plan, Flores believes that getting everyone involved will maximize their potential.

At the mid-way point of the season, CWU currently sits at 10-3. It’s not a bad record by any stretch, but senior captain Sadie Mensing knows that improvements still need to be made.

“I don’t want to lose at all,” Mensing said. “We’re doing good and overall I’m happy with how we’re playing together.”

If there was one trait that made Mensing believe they could be successful this season, it was the chemistry that her group plays with.

That team chemistry has led to high point totals this season. Right now, the team is averaging 77.1 points per game which is good for second in the conference behind Northwest Nazarene University.

Richardson-Thornley credits the tempo her team plays at as a reason for the team’s early offensive success. Right now there are five total players averaging at least nine points per game.

That high power offense could be tempered a little against a Simon Fraser team that’s ranked top seven overall in the GNAC in total defense.

This group has been vocal about their belief in taking it one game at a time, but the ultimate goal is to hoist the GNAC trophy at the end of the season.

According to Mensing, the pieces are there to make that happen.

“If you stop one person we’re just going to hit the next person that’s open,” Mensing said. “It’s really hard for teams to guard.”

Combine that with CWU’s high pressure defense, and Mensing is confident in their chances to win a conference title.

Winning the GNAC is the long term goal, but for now, Mensing’s focus is 100 percent on preparing for the Clan.

This rivalry game between CWU and SFU takes place Jan. 24 in Surrey, British Columbia with tip-off scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

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