It was a game that highlighted both the youth on Simon Fraser’s basketball team, and the three-point making ability that Central Washington has displayed all season.
Coming into the game on a 12-game losing streak against the second place Central Washington Wildcats, the Clan knew they were facing a challenge. While they ended up losing the game, coach Steve Hanson was positive regarding the team’s effort.
“I thought our guys battled hard,” said the coach when asked about the game. “There were great stretches of effort, we just haven’t had a game of 40 minutes.”
The game started in favour of Central Washington, as two blocked shots by Fuquan Niles led to transition threes for Dom Hunter and Naim Ladd, and gave the team a 13–9 lead early. A few minutes later, two Ladd free-throws stretched the lead to 27–16 for the visiting team.
Two fouls by starting SFU point guard Michael Provenzano forced coach Hanson to go to his bench early, where Othniel Spence provided a defensive spark. The Clan then went on a 12–3 run that was capped by a steal and made free-throw attempts by Spence, cutting the lead to two points.
“He brings us so much energy on the defensive end,” said Hanson when asked about Spence’s play as of late. “He’s learning every week [. . .] he’s getting better every week.”
A beautiful alley-oop from Spence to JJ Pankratz helped the Clan keep the game close, before two failed defensive rebounds lead to a three for Ladd and a converted-and-one dunk for Niles.
When asked about it after the game, coach Hanson said, “The difference was the offensive glass, we just gave up too many second chance points.” Central Washington was plus seven in second chance points in this one, outscoring Simon Fraser 13–6.
A four-point play by Ladd gave the Wildcats a 52–44 lead going into the half. While faced with a daunting challenge, the Clan seemed to be holding their own so far.
In the beginning of the second half, however, the game got away from them. The Wildcats went on a 22–4 run to start the half, giving them a 74–48 lead. While the Clan made a valiant effort to claw back, strong play by Ladd and Niles ended up being the difference in the game.
“There were great stretches of effort, we just haven’t had a game of 40 minutes.”
Ladd ended the game with an efficient 33 points in 30 minutes on 8–11 three pointers, which has been the story of the Wildcats’ season thus far, as they lead the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) in three-pointers made per game. This combined with Niles dominating the paint with 14 rebounds and three blocks was too much for Simon Fraser to handle.
On the bright side, Kedar Wright had another solid performance for the Clan, with 25 points and seven rebounds on 8–17 shooting, including three three-pointers. When asked on his performance, coach Hanson responded with, “We see what Kedar can do on offense every day [. . .] he’s a very good three-point shooter.”
On top of this, the Clan were plus 17 in bench points, largely in part to Hidde Vos going 5–9 from behind the arc.
In a game in which Simon Fraser was a solid 48.3% from the field, the offense was not the problem. While showing bursts of effort on the defensive end, the 54.1% that Central Washington shot from the field alludes to the relatively young team that Simon Fraser has.
This can be summed up with coach Hanson’s post game quote: “We’re just not as big. . . not as old and strong.”
With this loss the Clan continue their skid with their 13th straight loss, and fall to 0–9 in the GNAC.
NEXT GAME: Simon Fraser will host the Northwest Nazarene University Crusaders on Saturday. The Crusaders are 1–4 in away games so far this season, giving the Clan a good opportunity to break their losing streak. They are tied for second in the GNAC in scoring defence, averaging 73 points per game.
Tip-off is at 7 p.m.