Clan comes up just short on Seniors Night

Salam, Pankratz, and Sherman-Newsome honoured in their last game at Burnaby campus

JJ Pankratz spent played all four seasons with the SFU Clan. (Photo courtesy of SFU Athletics)

On Saturday night, the men’s basketball team hosted Alaska Anchorage on Seniors Night for the Clan. The team and fans paid their respects to seniors N’Kosi Kedar Salam, JJ Pankratz, and Iziah Sherman-Newsome. The game went down to the last second, where SFU had a chance to tie, and then win the game, but ultimately fell short and lost 66–64.

Pankratz, who has been struggling with injury as of late, started the game in an attempt to reach 1,000 career points. Unfortunately, he went 0–2 from the field in two minutes of play, and would not return to the game, leaving him at 998 career points. As long as he is healthy, he should have no problem reaching the feat, as the team will play two more games in Oregon next week.

Similar to Pankratz, the Clan as a whole struggled mightily out of the gate. Alaska pulled ahead early with a 13–0 run to start the game, and would get ahead by as much as 16 at the 10-minute mark after a three from Drew Peterson. Despite these early struggles, however, Simon Fraser would bounce back to put themselves within striking distance by the end of the half. A 12–0 run by the Clan, in which Othniel Spence scored 10 points and assisted a basket, cut the deficit to three, before a buzzer beater jumper by Alaska’s Josiah Wood would put the score at 37–32 heading into the half.

In the second half, the Clan did everything they could to stay in the game, tying the score twice, but were never able to take the lead. Despite this, the ending could not have been more exciting. Down three points with less than a minute to go, Spence hit a huge three-pointer to tie the game up at 63 with 50 seconds left. Alaska responded with a jumper by Malik Clements to go up by two, and then extended their lead to three after hitting a free throw. This put the Clan down three with possession of the ball at 13 seconds to go. They would not be able to get the three-pointer needed to tie the game after two missed attempts by Michael Provenzano separated by a free throw from Tyrell Lewin. The game would end with the Clan coming up just short, and losing 66–64.

The story of the night, however, was that this was the final game that the seniors will play at the SFU Burnaby campus. All three seniors were major pieces for the team this season and in years past, and were all regular starters as well as the three highest scorers for the Clan this season. Salam currently leads the Great Northwest Athletic Conference with 19.7 points per game, while Pankratz and Sherman-Newsome are first and second in rebounds and blocks for the team. Sherman-Newsome did not play in this one, as he is out for the rest of the season with a hand injury.

The team will next travel to Oregon for games on February 22 and 24 to wrap up the season. The first will be against the winless Concordia Cavaliers. Tipoff is at 7 p.m for both games.