SFU men’s basketball show promise, but lack sustaining power against SMU

Clan falls 85–63 to Saint Martin’s University

The win was in sight, but ultimately the Clan fell short in the second half. Kelsey Nikl / The Peak

On Saturday night, the Clan hosted Saint Martin’s University (SMU), the third-placed team in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, at the West Gym.

The Saints showed their dominance early, getting off to a 14–4 lead four-and-a-half minutes into the game. After being down 29–18 heading into a media timeout (and by as much as 15 before that), however, the Clan responded.

Othniel Spence was a major contributor in this, scoring four points in a 6–0 run to cut the deficit to five, before getting a huge block on the defensive end and hitting a corner three on the other side of the floor. SFU also fixed up their early defensive issues, forcing SMU into a few late shot clock situations. The first half comeback would be completed by N’Kosi Kedar Salam, who forced his way into the paint for a basket with 1:12 left to go in the half, tying the game at 37, the first tie since the game was 4–4. The teams would go into the break with this score, with the game being anybody’s to win.

“We had a poor start and our bench did a tremendous job getting us back in the game after we gave up a 15-point lead,” said head coach Steve Hanson on the first half. “[Spence], Jordan [Muir-Keung] and Bongani [Moyo] played with energy and grit. Our ball movement was much better with the second unit.”

In the second half, however, those early game struggles were repeated, without the bench being able to bring SFU back into the game. The Saints got everything they wanted on offence, and the Clan could do little to keep up.

Luke Chavez in particular had a strong half for SMU, scoring 18 of his 20 points on 7–9 shooting. SMU shot 63.3% from the field in the half, including 54.5% from deep. Comparatively, SFU shot only 23.5% from the field, and were led in the half by N’Kosi Kedar Salam’s eight points. He struggled from the field as well, only going 1–7 in the half. In a game in which the Clan looked like they might have a shot to pull off the upset in the first half, they lacked the sustaining power of the Saints. The game would eventually end 85–63.

After the game, Hanson had this to say: “We expect our starters to set the tone defensively each night and they didn’t do that in either half. We gave their best shooters open looks and we struggled to score on offence. That’s not a winning formula.”

Tyrell Lewin led the Clan with 13 points on 6–8 shooting, while Salam, Spence, and Michael Provenzano also hit double digits.

With the loss, SFU now falls to 3–9 in conference play so far this season, and 9–11 overall. Simon Fraser will now go on a three-game road trip, starting with Northwest Nazarene on Thursday, February 1. The Nighthawks are 6–6 in conference play so far this campaign.