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Why the SFU men's basketball team's win on Saturday was historic for the program

On the road in Washington state, the Burnaby-based Red Leafs pulled off a buzzer-beater victory against Saint Martin's University — ranked fourth nationally in NCAA Div. II.
Immanuel Oludele of the SFU Red Leafs faces a Western Oregon defender during the 2023-24 NCAA Div. II men's basketball season.

Simon Fraser University (SFU) defeated the Saint Martin's Saints on the road on Saturday, Feb. 3, in a 74-72 buzzer-beater thriller.

So, why does that matter?

Well, in addition to extending its win streak to two games, it was the Red Leafs' most historic victory of the men's basketball program since joining the NCAA ranks in 2010.

The unlocked achievement: the Saints were the highest-ranked opponent the SFU men's basketball team has ever beaten, entering last Saturday's contest nationally-ranked fourth in NCAA Div. II play. Saint Martin's (SMU) was also ranked seventh in the NCAA Div. II men's basketball coaches poll.

And, in another twist, the last best victory for the Red Leafs was five years and one day earlier — Feb. 2, 2019 —against the Saints at their home gym when they were ranked 12th across the continent.

"It was an impressive win for our young team," said SFU head coach Steve Hanson in a team release.

"SMU is such a quality veteran team. We have grown a lot this week and multiple guys have contributed in a big way. Defensively, we are locked in, but still have room to grow."

Guard Immanuel Oludele drove in the winning layup to topple the Saints. The sophomore, alongside fellow Ontario athlete Eric Beckett, led the Red Leafs with 16 points each.

Two days earlier, on Feb. 1, SFU needed an extra frame to beat the Western Oregon Wolves 88-87 (OT).

The victories improve the Red Leafs' record to 3-8 in Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) play.

SFU was also named the GNAC team of the week for its recent success, the program's first in five years.

"It’s a nice honor to be named GNAC Team of the Week," Hanson said.

"Our conference is extremely tough and our team had to really grind out two wins against quality opponents in front of tough crowds both nights."

They'll look to continue the momentum back home at West Gym on the SFU's Burnaby campus (8888 University Dr.) when the Leafs host Montana State Billings on Thursday, Feb. 8, and Seattle Pacific on Saturday, Feb. 10.

Both games tip-off at 7 p.m.

Meanwhile, the women's basketball team is on a three-game win streak after sweeping the Alaskan invasion this past weekend.

The Red Leafs defeated Alaska-Anchorage on Thursday 79-72 in overtime and Alaska-Fairbanks 83-68 on Saturday.

SFU's record stands at 5-6 in GNAC but 13-11 overall for the 2023-24 season.

The women are on the road this week to Central Washington (Feb. 8) and Northwest Nazarene (Feb. 10).