After finishing 2–18 in conference play last season, the Clan has now claimed their second win in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) in this campaign, as Simon Fraser defeated Central Washington University (CWU) in a home game at SFU. The win was in large part due to a career night from N’Kosi Kedar Salam, who led the game with a career-high 40 points.
While the Clan had a commanding win, the game began with the teams battling neck-in-neck throughout the first half. A layup from CWU’s Fuquan Niles gave the Wildcats a 28–21 lead, which marked the largest lead for either team in the half. The Clan went on a 12–2 run to end the half, as Salam hit a three-pointer with less than a minute to go to give SFU a 33–30 lead heading into the break.
At this point, Salam was leading the game with 13 points on 3–8 shooting from the field, with each of his field goals made being a three-pointer. JJ Pankratz was tied with Niles for second in the game with eight points.
The second half is when Salam really took over, and helped the Clan win the game as a result.
The teams battled back and forth before a 12–2 run by Central Washington gave the visitors a 52–51 lead with 11:07 to go. Simon Fraser handled the game from there on out, scoring an incredible 40 points in less than 11 minutes. Salam, as expected, played a huge role in this, scoring 21 points during the stretch.
He played all 20 minutes of the half, scoring 27 points on 8–11 field goals with three threes, while going a perfect 8–8 from the free throw line. This marks only the third time an SFU player has scored 40 or more points in a game, after Ricky Berry scored 40 against Western Washington in 2011 and Sango Niang scored 46 against (ironically enough) Central Washington in 2015.
A game like this is a reminder of how far along Salam has come between his junior and senior seasons at SFU. While he has always been a gifted scorer, he is now putting up points in a much more efficient manner, due to an increase in shotmaking abilities, but also better shot selection. After this game, he now has a field goal percentage of .506 and a three-point percentage of .488. Comparatively, in the 2016–17 season he shot .388 from the field and .333 from three.
With the win, the Clan is now 2–3 in conference play this season and 8–5 overall. They have had a lot of success at home so far this season, as they are 6–1 when playing in Burnaby. Their next game is Saturday, January 6 as they host Northwest Nazarene in the West Gym.