First Win Over WWU Since '98 Earns SFU Team of Week
Michael Harper hit the first of the Clans 12 three pointers on Saturday in SFU's first conference game of the season.
Michael Harper hit the first of the Clans 12 three pointers on Saturday in SFU's first conference game of the season.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

PORTLAND, Ore. - Simon Fraser's men’s basketball team , which defeated boarder rival Western Washington 122-118 last Saturday for the Clan’s first victory over the Vikings in 15 years, has been selected the GNAC Red Lion Hotels Team of the Week.

The Clan shot 56.8 percent from the field and hit 12 three pointers, 10 in the first half, to help break the GNAC record for combined points scored in a game with 240.

“We practiced really hard leading up to that game,” senior guard Sango Niang said on episode 46 of GNAC Insider. “It was a big night for us. It was Terry Fox night so we had a lot of fans supporting us. We wanted to prove to the GNAC that we’re going to be a different team this year and we’re ready for the competition.”

Niang and Justin Cole led the Clan with 29 and 20 points respectively while junior Roderick Evans-Taylor added 18 in the conference opener. All three combined for 10 of the Clans 16 assists.

Junior Michael Harper nailed his only three pointer of the game for the Clans first points and, besides the Vikings starting 2-0 to open the game, only surrendered the lead for a few short seconds for the remainder of the contest.

“We felt it was our night at the beginning (of the game) when we got the tempo because with this playing style it’s hard to play fast when you’re down,” Niang said. “We knew we had to be up the whole game. We came out with a good mentality and the bench played a really big part in keeping us in the game.”

One of those bench players was Clan sophomore Adam Westfall who went 3-of-4 from behind the arch in the first half. Westfall's nine points contributed to a Simon Fraser 71-63 lead at the break, which beat the Vikings mark for points allowed in a half.

The Vikings kept the game close in the second half, but Niang and Cole added 27 combined points and forward Patrick Simon added seven more for the 122-118 victory.

Simon Fraser’s high scoring offense produced 100 points for the fourth straight game and the seventh of the season.

The Clan are scoring at a torrid pace, leading the country in points and assists and are second in three pointers made. It’s not close either. Simon Fraser’s 126.1 points per game is 15 points better than the second place team and more than 33 points better than the second place GNAC team.

“With us we just play dribble drive,” Niang said. “We’re trying to get to the basket before the other team gets set. I think that benefits us because we practice playing fast and are used to playing fast while other teams usually are not.”

Niang is the leader of the Clan’s offense, scoring 23.4 points per game while placing third in the nation with 7.4 assists per game. He also averages the fourth most steals each game in Division II, a stat the team ranks first nationally in.

Three Clan scorers rank in the top 10 in points each game in the conference while four more rank in the top 10 in three pointers made.

Head coach James Blake like to keep fresh legs on the court as 12 different players have appeared in all eight games, more than any other school in the conference.

“We want to put up more shots than anyone in the GNAC,” Niang said. “We want to shoot more three’s. We’re trying to get a good shot within the first seven seconds.”

Simon Fraser has only one more game in the month of December, hosting the Capilano Blues next Tuesday, before returning to conference play at the beginning of the New Year.