After a heartbreaking, last-second loss to Northwest Nazarene over the weekend, the men’s basketball team went back at it on Tuesday night as they hosted Western Washington University (WWU). While things did not go as planned in a 69–54 loss to the visitors, it’s important to consider that the Clan was facing off against the best the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) has to offer, and that there were some positives to take away from the game.
For one, Simon Fraser got off to a great start. After the teams traded baskets at the beginning of the first half, the Clan got up to as much as eight points by the 13 minute mark, as the team went up 19–11 aided by a 17–6 run. As good teams do, however, WWU bounced back, erasing the deficit before going on an 8–0 run to take a 33–25 lead. The teams would go into halftime with a score of 36–32 for the visitors, with SFU providing good competition to such a strong opponent.
At this point, SFU’s N’Kosi Kedar Salam was leading the game with 14 points on 6–11 shooting. He also had two of the Clan’s three three-pointers, as the team went 1–5 from behind the ark apart from him. For Western Washington, Deandre Dickson had an efficient 12 points on 6–8 shooting.
In the second half, Western Washington showed what makes them such a strong side. They dominated the Clan on the boards and all around the court really, with the biggest case of this being a 13–0 run that gave the visitors a 22-point lead with just under six minutes left. They would ride this lead to eventually win 69–54, winning the second half 33–22 after a close first half.
Rebounds were certainly the difference in the second half, as the Clan got outrebounded 31–12 after keeping the rebound battle close in the first half (19–17). In fact, Western Washington had more offensive boards in the second half (13) than Simon Fraser did in total. Dickson was once again dominant on the inside, with 10 rebounds in the half, six of which were offensive boards.
For SFU, Salam continues to be a bright spot, scoring 26 points on 11–22 shooting with two threes in the contest. Apart from Salam, the Clan shot a dismal 13–44 from the field. Salam has now scored 26 points or more in each of his last three contests, with a career-high 40 points against Central Washington being the highlight. For his efforts, he was awarded the United States Basketball Writers Association’s Division II Men’s National Player of the Week.
With the loss, Simon Fraser are now 2–5 in GNAC play this season, although two of their losses came down to the wire. SFU will next travel to Montana to play against Montana State on Thursday night at 6 p.m. This will be a good contest for the Clan, as the Yellowjackets have a similar GNAC record at 2–4.