Travelling to face the 2nd best team in the GNAC conference in Western Washington was always going to be tough for the Simon Fraser men’s basketball team. But compound the fact that they were missing two key starters in JJ Pankratz and Iziah Sherman-Newsome plus the size disadvantage they already had, well it would just be all the more harder.
The result was a 86-64 loss that left SFU with a 3-12 conference record with five games to play. Although the twenty-plus point loss looked bad on paper, they played well despite competing with one hand behind their back.
SFU was forced to play a starting lineup that featured four guards and only one forward. They had three players with which to rotate on the bench, and all three of them have never played more than 15 minutes in a game.
The tallest SFU player on the floor to start was 6’7 Tyrell Lewin — four of the five players for Western Washington were 6’7 or over, including seven foot Logan Schilder.
SFU managed to keep it close in the first half, with a three from Othniel Spence with 11:37 left brought it within five. However, the Vikings would score 26 points the rest of the half to take a 13 point lead heading into the break.
But SFU did show some fight in the second half. A jumper from point guard Michael Provenzano cut the Viking lead down to nine. However, Western Washington pulled away after that — a product of the size advantage wearing the visitors down and the man advantage on the bench.
Kedar Salam continued his terrific season for SFU. The Senior from Toronto and former UBC Thunderbird had 23 points on nine of eighteen shooting, and played 39 of a possible 40 minutes. Three others finished with double-digits, as Othniel Spence had 12 points while both Michael Provenzano and Jordan Muir-Keung had 10.
With a depleted lineup, the game saw players who don’t get usually used as frequently to get a chance. Both Bongani Moyo and Aleks Vranjes both logged a season high in minutes, while Bowen Bakken got on the floor for only the fifth time this season.
SFU’s next game will be this Saturday against Montana State back at the West Gym. The Billings are currently 4-10 in the GNAC, just one spot ahead of SFU.
Written By: Nick Bondi