The SFU men’s basketball team kept their winning ways going on Tuesday night as they hosted Western Washington University, coming up with another huge win to position themselves for a playoff spot. Coming into the game, the Clan and the Vikings were tied for fifth place in the conference. With the win, SFU now has sole position of the spot and have a great chance of playing in the GNAC postseason.
The win was huge for standings purposes, but it was also huge when you consider the adversity that SFU were under. Missing starting centre Julian Roche, the leading scorer and rebounder on the team, it was clear that somebody had to step up to lead the team. That man would be Jasdeep Singh, who led the team with a season high 31 points, seven rebounds and two blocks in a game high 39 minutes.
After the game, head coach Steve Hanson told The Peak, “Adversity hits every team and you have to be ready. Julian brings rebounding, communication and scoring every night and the rest of our team had to bring a little more of that tonight. I think we did that.”
He added, “Jas had some pressure tonight with his front court partner out. He had to play tough, stay out of fouls trouble and be efficient. He did that plus more. We’re proud of his performance.”
The team’s were neck-and-neck the entire game, and finished the first half with a score of 36–34 in favour of the home team. The Vikings held a slight lead for the majority of the second half, but clutch play down the stretch would eventually help the Clan prevail with the win.
Tyler Payne did his best to give Western Washington the win, scoring each of his team’s final 11 points, but was unable to single-handedly defeat SFU. He was countered by two three-pointers by Singh down the stretch and a three from Othniel Spence, as well as a couple free throw makes by Bongani Moyo and Michael Hannan. With seven seconds left and a three-point lead for the Clan, Payne attempted to tie the game with a three. He missed, and Singh grabbed the rebound to end the contest with a score of 76–73.
“It was a tough battle the entire game,” said Hanson, “What we expected this time of year with two teams battling for a playoff spot.”
The win gives the Clan a 9–9 GNAC record on the season, and more importantly, sole position of fifth place in the conference. The top six teams qualify for the GNAC Championships, but SFU’s position in the postseason is far from guaranteed. Three teams behind SFU in the standings have eight or more wins, meaning that the next two home games are very important to ensure that the Clan make the postseason.
The team is definitely playing their best basketball of the season so far, winning six of their last seven GNAC games. That being said, Hanson believes the team has room to grow, saying, “I don’t think we are peaking but we are playing tough and smart basketball. We had to play that way to be in this position.”
Peak player of the game: Jasdeep Singh
Singh had to step up on Tuesday night with Roche out, and he did that and more. His 31 points were a season high, and he played big for team missing their starting centre, grabbing seven rebounds and blocking two shots. He also did a great job of avoiding foul trouble, playing a game high 39 minutes (he only rested one minute!) while also playing strong defence. His two threes down the stretch were key in SFU’s ability to grab the win, it what was the most important game of the season thus far.
What a performance.
The Clan have two more games this season, both at home, and both later this week. They will host the 4–14 Concordia University Cavaliers on Thursday, before taking on the 12–6 Western Oregon University Wolves on Saturday. Both games are at 7 p.m, and both have huge playoff implications for the SFU men’s basketball team.