The year 2015 has not been kind to the men’s basketball team — their last game was just their first win of the year. However, Thursday night against the Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks, the men’s basketball team were able keep up the positive momentum, putting up their second straight win.
The Clan came out firing on all cylinders. Guard Sango Niang scored the first basket, and his team then managed a quick 10–1 run. Midway through the first, Alaska was able to cut the lead down to 7, but the Clan answered back, this time by going on a 9–2 run and restoring their big lead. The half ended 45–33 SFU, led by strong performances by both Niang and guard Hiddle Vos.
The second half started with a commanding lead for SFU — up by 17 just two minutes in. But after that, the team’s offence dried up and the shooters began missing the mark. This allowed the Fairbanks to slowly get back into the game, eventually cutting the lead down to two points. Ultimately, the Clan were able to restore a bit of a lead, and the final score was 79–71 SFU.
The win was SFU’s lowest-scoring victory this season — their only win while scoring under 100 points — as well as their second-lowest score.
Despite the lack of offence and sloppy defence that plagued the Clan’s second half, head coach James Blake was pleased with the win — their second in January, a feat the team has not accomplished since joining the NCAA.
“I’m very proud of how my team has responded,” said the coach. “This team has responded to a tough January, and now they’ve got two wins in the month of January, which my teams in the past haven’t done.”
With the win, SFU moved out of a four-way tie into sole possession of seventh place in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC), one spot short of sixth place — the final playoff spot. Though tied with Western Washington for conference wins, they have the edge because of more overall wins. An NCAA playoff appearance would be a first for the Clan.
The Clan’s next home game is Saturday, January 31st against the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves. Tipoff is at 7 pm. With a win and a Western Washington loss, the Clan can move into a playoff spot.
Field Goals: 27–74 (36.5%)
3 Pointers: 11–47 (23.4%)
Free Throws: 14–18 (77.8%)
Field Goals: 23–60 (38.3%)
3 Pointers: 5–22 (22.7%)
Free Throws: 20–30 (66.7%)
Player of the Game: Sango Niang
Niang was a key contributor to the Clan’s impressive performance in the first half. Near the end of the half, he assisted on a highlight reel alley-oop to Roderick Evans-Taylor, which sent the crowd of 245 into a frenzy. Always the crowd-pleaser, Niang nabbed the ball again a few seconds later, and stepped back for a long distance three-pointer. He finished with a game-high 23 points, including going perfect from the line and three assists.
Rebounds (Off-Def): 2–5